After recording eight wins via fourth quarter comebacks in 2016, the Lions added another such victory over the Cardinals on Sunday afternoon at Ford Field, 35-23.
This was the Lions’ first victory over Arizona since November 2005.
A late touchdown catch by rookie receiver Kenny Golladay late in the fourth quarter put the Lions up by two scores, but Miles Killebrew put the nail in the coffin with a pick-six on the ensuing Arizona drive. The defense finished the day with three interceptions and held the Cardinals (0-1) to just 314 total yards.
The Lions’ (1-0) defense was the real story of the game as it stuffed David Johnson before he left with an injury and held Carson Palmer in check. Johnson, arguably the league’s best running back, had just 23 total rushing yards.
The Lions looked sloppy early on as penalties and special teams gaffes costed them field position. However, Matt Stafford settled in after throwing an interception on his first drive and finished with 292 yards on 29-of-41 completions and four touchdowns. He recorded his first victory in five tries against Arizona.
Golden Tate also had a big day for Detroit, finishing with 10 catches and 107 yards. Golladay had a solid showing in his debut, catching four passes for 69 yards and two scores.
Detroit will travel to New York to face the Giants in Week 2 and Arizona will face the Colts on the road.
Lions hold on for win
The Cardinals attempted an onside kick, but it went out of bounds, drawing penalty flags. Detroit took over at the Cardinals' 44. A couple of runs would help the Lions bleed the clock and hold onto the win.
Cardinals end Lions' scoring run
Although Detroit fans didn't like it, Jarrad Davis was flagged for unnecessary roughness after body-slamming Jermaine Gresham on a first-down catch. A wild, falling first-down throw and catch by Carson Palmer to John Brown was negated thanks to a holding penalty. On forth-and-1, Palmer snuck up the middle for a first down at the Lions' 28.
Palmer looked to the end zone on first down, but the pass was broken up by the Lions' secondary. A nine-yard pass to J.J. Nelson set the Cardinals up on a third-and-inches as the two-minute warning struck. Larry Fitzgerald got the Cardinals down to the 14 with a short catch before Palmer overthrew his tight end in the end zone, but there would be pass interference called.
Since the foul occurred in the end zone, Arizona would get the ball at the 1-yard line. Palmer found J.J. Nelson on a short touchdown pass. The two-point conversion try was no good and the Lions led 35-23.
Carson Palmer throws third pick
Once again, the defensive line pressure Carson Palmer and he threw a ball behind his receiver which was deflected into the air and it was intercepted by Miles Killebrew and returned 40 yards for a touchdown.
Golladay dazzles with diving TD catch
Ameer Abdullah started the Lions' late drive with a couple of solid runs, totaling 12 yards. Golden Tate stayed active, catching a 14-yard pass for a first down. Matt Stafford then launched a home run pass down the middle of the field to a streaking Kenny Golladay who laid out to make the touchdown reception. The touchdown catch went for 45 yards. The Lions took a 28-17 lead.
Penalties cost Cardinals on late drive
After a touchback, Carson Palmer took over, leading Arizona down the field. Andre Ellington, a replacement of David Johnson, caught a pass out of the backfield and took it 24 yards down the field. During a third-down catch that nearly gave Ellington a first down, John Brown was flagged for offensive pass interference and pushed the Cardinals back. On third-and-18, Palmer threw into triple-coverage as Larry Fitzgerald was unable to come up with the reception.
Andy Lee punted to Jamal Agnew at the 15-yard line and he returned it to the 28.
Lions take first lead
Golden Tate took an end-around about 15 yards, but it was called back on an illegal block in the back penalty. After being pushed back, the Lions would eventually face a third-and-10, but Matt Stafford found T.J. Jones for a 16-yard pass for the Cardinals' 49. Jones made a heck of a catch on a ball that was thrown behind him. Golden Tate then made a catch and turned it into a 15-yard gain to the 34. Jones made a toe-tapping reception at the 14-yard line.
A defensive holding call moved the ball up to the Cardinals' 8-yard line. After a negative-yardage run by Ameer Abdullah, Kenny Golladay caught his first NFL touchdown pass on a corner route to the left side of the end zone. The Lions took their first lead, 21-17, after a failed two-point conversion.
Cardinals offense fizzles out
David Johnson was taken to the locker room following the previous Arizona drive and fumble to have his wrist checked out. A short pass to Jermaine Gresham set up a second-and-2 but Kerwynn Williams was stuffed. Haloti Ngata was taken off the field with an injury. Williams was stuffed on third-and-short, but a last-second surge got him the first down.
The third quarter ended with another crucial third-down play forthcoming.
Anthony Zettel got the fourth quarter off on the right foot with a third-down sack of Carson Palmer. Andy Lee punted to the Lions' 10, but Jamal Agnew had the best special teams play of the team, outside of Matt Prater's long field goal, returning it 23 yards.
Stafford tosses second TD pass
A Dwayne Washington run on first down didn't yield much success, but Matt Stafford took to the air from the 7-yard line on the next play, hitting Theo Riddick who caught the ball at the 5-yard line, spun and reached the end zone. The Lions would line up for the two-point conversion to tie it up. Stafford's pass to Kenny Golladay in the corner of the end zone was incomplete and the Cardinals led 17-15 with 3:07 left in the third.
Cardinals cough up ball
In his first play back from injury, David Johnson coughed up the football thanks to an A'Shawn Robinson tackle who forced it. Rookie linebacker Jarrad Davis picked it up and ran it back to the Cardinals' 10-yard line.
Stafford slings longest pass of the day
Matt Stafford got the drive kicked off with a nice touch pass over a Cardinals defender to Marvin Jones Jr. down the sideline for a 31-yard gain. Ameer Abdullah continued to struggle on the ground, though, rushing for two yards on the next play to the Lions' 49. On third-and-8, Stafford threw the ball away with no one open downfield. Matt Prater set up for another punt and it got to just to 20 of Arizona.
Penalties continue to mount for Lions
For yet another season, penalties continue to be an issue for the Lions. On a long incompletion by Carson Palmer, a personal foul and pass interference were called on the same play, giving the Cardinals new life. Palmer's accuracy looked much improved in the second half as he hit a plethora of receivers to get deep into Lions territory.
A short screen pass to Jermaine Gresham led to a touchdown, but it was called back on a hold by Gresham himself before making the catch. David Johnson caught a 24-yard pass from Palmer to get to the Lions' 3-yard line but he was crushed by three defenders and went down on the play. He looked to have the wind knocked out of him. Kerwynn Williams punched it in on a 3-yard run to give the Cardinals a 17-9 lead. They drove 94 yards on the scoring drive.
Lions receive to start second half
The run game continued to struggle as the Lions took over at their own 25 to begin the second half. Matt Stafford made up for it with some nice throws, but a failed third-down conversion just yards away from midfield forced another Matt Prater punt. This time, it was an impressive one than rolled inside the Cardinals' own 10-yard line.
Prater drills 58-yarder before half
After the Cardinals' missed chip-shot field goal, the Lions were set up with 40 seconds left in the half at their own 22. Matt Stafford hit his most reliable target, Golden Tate, to get the Lions into Cardinals' territory with 17 seconds left. A short completion to the 41-yard line set up a 58-yard field goal attempt for Matt Prater and he drilled it. Cardinals led 10-9 at the half
Phil Dawson misses FG
After going 11 plays for 56 yards, Carson Palmer and the Cardinals' offense marched down to the Lions' 14 and set up a 32-yard field goal try for Phil Dawson. He missed the attempt off the left upright.
Lions offense sputters again
The Lions began the drive at their own 38 but they couldn't get anything going. After a run for a loss of yards and a couple of short passes, they were forced to punt after a three-and-out. The Cardinals would take over at their own 30 after a Matt Prater punt.
Lions defense continuing early dominance
After throwing another interception on a fluke bounce into the hands of Quandre Diggs, Carson Palmer and the Cardinals went three-and-out instead. The Lions' defense continued to hold strong.
Stafford shows toughness in scoring drive
Matt Stafford was paid handsomely a couple of weeks ago, and early on he didn't look like the highest-paid player in the league. He got the fans out of their seats with a third-and-12 first-down scramble in which he evaded a sack and took a hit to gain about 15 yards. He led the Lions down the field and into the end zone with a touchdown pass to Marvin Jones Jr. Jake Rudock botched a snap on the PAT and was forced to run out of bounds with the ball. Cardinals still lead 10-6.
Carson Palmer throws another pick
The Cardinals were set up nicely in Lions territory after a long reception and run by Larry Fitzgerald, but Carson Palmer threw his second interception of the game and Glover Quin returned it to the Cardinals' 42.
Dwayne Washington's gaffe sets up long drive
On the kickoff return, Dwayne Washington made a major gaffe, taking the ball deep out of the end zone to the 7. After a short run by Ameer Abdullah, Golden Tate caught his first pass of the year and came just two yards short of a first down. The first quarter ended with the Lions attempting to march down the field.
The penalties continued to rack up in the second, though. Golden Tate made up for it with a first-down reception in the middle of the Cardinals' defense to keep the drive going. However, the drive stalled out near midfield. Matt Prater was forced to punt after Kasey Redfern was injured on the previous drive.
Cardinals tack on field goal
After taking over at the Lions' 13, David Johnson had two rushes for two yards and an incomplete pass from Carson Palmer to Larry Fitzgerald at the goal-line set up a field goal try. However, a leaping penalty on the Lions during the field goal attempt gave the Cardinals new life inside the 10. However, the defense stood strong and held the Cardinals to a field goal by Phil Dawson. The Cardinals took a 10-0 lead.
Lions' offense struggles again
The Lions' drive started deep in their own territory, at the 19, after a penalty on the punt return to set it up. Matt Stafford was sacked for a seven-yard loss to start the drive, Theo Riddick then caught a short pass. On third-and-12, Stafford tossed a short incompletion to avoid a sack which resulted in intentional grounding. Kasey Redfern's attempted punt didn't go off as planned as he was forced to run out of the end zone to escape a safety. The Cardinals would get it in the red zone.
David Johnson stuffed by Lions' defense
The Cardinals started their second drive at their own 33-yard line after a Lions punt. David Johnson continued to get touches, catching a pass for two yards and then rushing for six to set up third-and-short. The Lions' defense stuffed Johnson, forcing a punt
Lions go three-and-out
The Lions' second drive didn't end much better than their first, although they didn't allow a pick-six this time. Ameer Abdullah rushed for no gain and caught a short pass to set up third-and-long. Matt Stafford hit rookie Kenny Golladay down the sideline and it looked like he made a miraculous finger-tip catch, but a hit jarred it loose. Three-and-out for the Lions.
Stafford throws pick-six
It didn't take long for Matt Stafford to throw his first pick of the season. After a five-yard run by Ameer Abdullah to start the drive deep inside Cardinal territory, Stafford threw an interception, returned 82 yards for a touchdown by Justin Bethel. The Cardinals led early, 7-0.
Cardinals toss pick on opening drive
After winning the toss and electing to receive, the Cardinals relied on their workhorse, David Johnson. Larry Fitzgerald caught a four-yard pass to start the drive and Johnson touched the ball three times, including a 15-yard reception which nearly resulted in a lost fumble. He was flagged for offensive pass interference, leading to a third-and-long for Carson Palmer. The veteran quarterback threw an interception to Tavon Wilson and he returned it to the Cardinals' 23-yard line.
The crisp (almost) autumn air, the football feeling, the audacity of NFL hope.
The Detroit Lions and their fans were counting down to the 1 p.m. Sunday start to their regular season against the Arizona Cardinals and the buzz downtown was palpable.
The expanded and revamped tailgate areas on both sides of Woodward were filled with filled with fans, their brats, hamburgers, beverages and Lions gear. Many of the newer restaurants and bars around Ford Field were packed with throngs of fans both taking in the new downtown scenery and ready for the NFL season to kick off.
On the walk to Ford Field, many fans sported their Matthew Stafford jerseys, wholeheartedly backing the – at least for now – highest-paid player in the league. Shockingly (or humorously), I also saw a Louis Delmas jersey among the revelers.
It's all in preparation for one of the biggest events downtown since Opening Day for the Tigers – and that'll be short-lived, as well, as Little Caesars Arena prepares to open in a couple weeks.
LIONS VS. CARDINALS
When: Sunday, 1 p.m.
Where: Ford Field, Detroit
TV / radio: Fox / 760 WJR
Line: Cardinals by 1.5