Justin Rogers and John Niyo of The Detroit News break down the Lions' 17-3 victory over the Cardinals, snapping a 25-year drought without a win in the state of Arizona. Justin Rogers, The Detroit News
Allen Park — After a sluggish start to the season, the Detroit Lions defense appears to be rounding into form.
The team has climbed to 12th in yardage allowed and 19th in points allowed. The unit has been particularly good the most recent four-game stretch, holding those opponents to 318.5 yards and 18.8 points.
The defense is coming off its best outing of the year, surviving the absence of sack leader Devon Kennard and early-game injuries to Ziggy Ansah and rookie Da’Shawn Hand to limit the Arizona Cardinals to a field goal in a 17-3 road victory.
The turnaround has led to some speculation that Lions coach Matt Patricia had taken over some or all of the play-calling duties from coordinator Paul Pasqualoni, a suggestion the coach was quick to debunk.
“No, everything is the same,” Patricia said. “Coach (Pasqualoni) does a great job of handling the defense and the organization of it, getting them ready to go and calling the game. It’s really been my thing from the start, just having Coach Pasqualoni, with his experience and my trust in him and his background, his work ethic, (it) really allows me to be in the other areas of the team that I need to be in and to help with and obviously try to give us a chance to win.
“I’ve just been extremely lucky and blessed that he’s here.”
Speculation had been fueled, in part, because broadcast cameras often have captured Patricia holding play sheets during the game, but he said that’s been standard operation during the season.
“I have sheets on all the phases, all three phases and I carry them,” Patricia said. “Most of the time, I have the hoodie, or the pocket out in front, where I just keep the different call sheets that I need based on where we are in the game. It’s pretty normal.”
Patricia and Pasqualoni go way back, with the latter hiring the former as a graduate assistant at Syracuse in 2001. The two have remained close, as Pasqualoni’s career took him back and forth between the pro and college coaching ranks.