Matt Patricia's top 5 highs, lows during 'Same Old Lions' tenure

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Matt Patricia’s tenure with the Lions will be remembered for its futility, especially with the high standards that marked its arrival.

With his pedigree coming from the Patriots' championship stock, Patricia looked to be the answer for the Lions’ woes that have spanned generations of fans.

Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn, new head coach Matt Patricia, owner Martha Ford and president Rod Wood after the introductory press conference for the new Detroit Lions head coach at training facility in Allen Park, Michigan on February 7, 2018.

Instead, his 13-29-1 mark is another set of staggering numbers that defy description and add more fodder to the “Same Old Lions” mantra that fans have adopted.

Although largely forgettable, Patricia’s two-plus seasons have yielded some memorable moments — both good and bad — to ponder. Instead of focusing on just the bad, there are some good ones to add to the mix.


Patriots' Tom Brady is sacked by Lions' Eli Harold in the 4th quarter.

►Lions 26, Patriots 10: On Sept. 23, 2018, in Patricia’s matchup against his former team, the Lions had one of their best victories in his time in Detroit. After starting the season 0-2, the Lions showed the promise of the Patricia period with a 13-0 lead in the second quarter, before the Patriots got a field goal just before halftime. They pulled within 13-10 in the third quarter before the Lions put it away with the final 13 points. It was Patricia’s signature win in a tenure that wasn’t filled with many of them.

►Chiefs 34, Lions 30: How does a loss rank as one of the Lions’ high points? Well, it was a back-and-forth affair with the eventual Super Bowl champions and the Lions held their own. Stafford had three touchdown passes, including two in the second half to Kenny Golladay, and Kerryon Johnson finished with 125 rushing yards. The Lions had the lead on Golladay’s score with 2:26 left in the game, but Patrick Mahomes drove Kansas City to the go-ahead score with 20 seconds remaining on Sept. 29, 2019.

►Lions 23, Falcons 22: Patricia’s time with the Lions had just three instances of back-to-back wins — and this was the final one, on Oct. 25, 2020. The Falcons were just 1-5 entering the showdown of struggling teams, but the Lions managed to stay close with three long field goals by Matt Prater. After the Falcons’ Todd Gurley ill-advisedly scored a touchdown with 1:04 left in the game, the Lions found a way to drive down the field in the final seconds, culminating with an 11-yard touchdown play from Matthew Stafford to T.J. Hockenson as time expired.

►Lions 30, Washington 27: Again, not to be construed with a franchise-changing win, the Lions looked like they would stay in the playoff hunt in a tumultuous season. Washington was 2-6 entering the game, and the Lions needed any lift they could get on Nov. 15, 2020. They jumped to a 24-3 lead early in the third quarter and looked to be cruising to victory, but Washington rallied to tie it at 27 with 16 seconds left in the game. The Lions drove the ball and Matt Prater kicked a 59-yard field goal to win it as time expired. It was a win, but it exposed some of the cracks that lead to Patricia’s eventual dismissal.

►Lions 31, Packers 0: The final score was a bit deceptive, considering Aaron Rodgers was injured early in the game and the shorthanded Packers finished with backup DeShone Kizer in the season finale on Dec. 30, 2018. Green Bay was in shambles, having fired coach Mike McCarthy earlier in the season and were playing out the string. The Lions notched a rare shutout and an even more rare win at Lambeau Field, but even a win was bad for them, lowering their eventual draft pick from fifth to eighth (they picked Hockenson).


Texans strong safety Justin Reid (20) starts the sack of Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) in the third quarter.

►Texans 41, Lions 25: On Nov. 26, 2020, the Lions were reeling from their first shutout since 2009 to the Carolina Panthers the previous week and put up a meek showing on Thanksgiving Day. It spelled the end for Patricia, who was fired two days later. The Lions showed some fight in the first half, but a pick-six by the Texans’ J.J. Watt turned things around quickly. The Lions got within 23-17 midway through the third quarter but the Texans scored 17 straight points to put the game out of reach.

►Bears 27, Lions 23: In the season opener on Sept. 13, 2020, the Lions had a 23-6 lead into the fourth quarter, but as was too typical for their season. The Lions coughed up a late lead, surrendering three touchdowns in the final period, including the go-ahead score with 1:54 remaining. They had a chance to win in the final minute, but rookie D’Andre Swift, in his debut, dropped the potential go-ahead score with 11 seconds left, casting a pall on the season.

►Jets 48, Lions 17: Things started so well for the Lions that this game looked as if it could be one of the highs of Patricia’s time, with a Quandre Diggs pick-six on the Jets’ first drive. Not so much after that. The Lions gave up the lead in the second quarter and tied it at 17 early in the third quarter. The Jets finished with the final 31 points of the game, including touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams to finish the rout during Patricia’s debut on Sept. 10, 2018.

►Cardinals 27, Lions 27: In the season opener the following year, the Lions pounced to a 17-0 lead just before halftime and they were comfortably ahead, 24-9 with 11 minutes left in the game. The Cardinals and rookie quarterback Kyler Murray scored two touchdowns in the final six minutes, including the tying score with 43 seconds remaining. In overtime, the teams traded field goals and what looked to be a win turned into a deflating tie on Sept. 8, 2019.

►Raiders 31, Lions 24: This one wasn’t as much about the score as it was about Stafford’s season-ending back injury. He completed the game on Nov. 3, 2019, but it ended the best statistical half-season of his career and derailed the season that could have gone either way after a 3-4-1 start. The Lions lost their final nine games and it put them in position to get the No. 3 pick in the draft, which they used to draft Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah, instead of a potential replacement for Stafford at quarterback.