Darius Slay's big plays help save Lions

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

Detroit — Nothing was going right for the Lions in the second half on Sunday.

The Lions blew a 14-point first-half lead to the Eagles and were less than three minutes away from dropping their fourth straight game.

That was until Darius Slay happened.

The cornerback helped turned the game around in 90 seconds with two pivotal fourth-quarter takeaways, lifting the Lions to a 24-23 win at Ford Field.

After the Lions burned their third and final timeout with 2:41 remaining and trailing 23-21, they desperately needed a crucial stop with the Eagles facing a third-and-2 at their 45-yard line.

Instead, Slay came down and delivered a jarring hit on running back Ryan Mathews, forcing a fumble that was recovered by defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker at the Eagles’ 45. The play was reviewed and eventually upheld.

“We just came back as a defense like, ‘We need to make a play, so let’s all make a play,’” Slay said. “We knew they were going to run the ball, so we were being a lot more aggressive, so I just came up there and I think I stuck him pretty good.

“The ball came up. We saw that (Mathews) had to carry the ball out wide, so we knew he was going to fumble once in a while, so I just made a play.”

After Matt Prater’s 29-yard field goal gave the Lions a one-point lead, Slay continued to live up to his “Big Play Slay” nickname with a game-sealing interception.

On the first play of the Eagles’ final drive, Slay picked off rookie quarterback Carson Wentz’s intended deep pass down the right sideline for receiver Nelson Agholor at the Lions’ 34 with 1:17 left.

“I was surprised (Wentz) even threw that,” Slay said. “I was in great position, so I’m like, ‘OK.’ But then I looked in the air and I said, ‘Oh, the ball is coming for real. He’s really throwing this. Oh well, it’s time for his first career pick.’”

Slay’s two takeaways were the first for the Lions’ defense since safety Glover Quin’s third-quarter interception against the Titans in Week 2. Slay finished with three tackles, two pass breakups and two game-changing plays.

“He’s one of those guys that has an inordinate skill level. He can run with you, he can make plays,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said of Slay. “It was good to see him get his first interception, essentially, on a heck of a play down the field where he tracked the ball, he screened it well.

“Overall, it was a heck of a ball game for him.”

Twitter: @jamesbhawkins