Earlier in the week, Detroit Lions running back Adrian Peterson said this Week Three matchup in Arizona was a must-win game. The team delivered.
The Detroit Lions sputtered to a 26-23 victory behind the leg of kicker Matt Prater in Arizona, but it doesn’t matter how it’s done, a win is a win. The Lions ended an 11-game losing streak with this vital victory.
Prater lived up to his clutch reputation today in Arizona, nailing all four of his field-goal attempts, including that game-winner. Not often do I reference a punter, but Jack Fox had himself a stellar day, and it certainly played a role in Detroit’s first victory.
Fox averaged over 55 yards on the day and boomed three of his four punts inside the 20-yard line. In fact, he should have gone 4-4 inside the 20 yard-line, but Tony McRae failed to fully establish himself back into the field of play as he downed the football at the two-yard line.
Generally, it is the offense leading the Detroit Lions to victory, but today it was the defense intercepting Kyler Murray a whopping three times. Detroit held the high-powered offense to 377 total yards while compiling 322 themselves. The Lions also possessed the football for nearly six more minutes than Kliff Kingsbury’s fast-moving college-style offense.
Rookie Jeff Okudah struggled last week in Green Bay, making his first career start. He rebounded today, earning himself his first career interception. As expected, the Lions struggled to contain star receiver DeAndre Hopkins as he made ten receptions totaling 137 yards. Oddly enough, it was Andy Isabella making two touchdown receptions; one was a beautiful play design and perfect ball placement by Murray as Isabella beat Darryl Roberts from the slot on a corner route.
The Lions secondary held the future Hall Of Famer, Larry Fitzgerald, to a mere one reception for no-gain. I expected the Detroit defense to pay extra attention to Hopkins, potentially allowing Fitzgerald to feast on the intermediate patterns. Still, the Lions defense smothered that area of the field today, notably linebacker Jamie Collins.
Collins led the Lions defense with six tackles and also added an interception. He was as good as advertised today, anchoring the middle of the Detroit defense. Duron Harmon also came away with an interception. Detroit’s lone sack came from Romeo Okwara.
The Detroit offense looked great at times, but the struggling offensive line really made things difficult. Halapoulivaati Vaitai made a surprise start at the right guard spot as the Lions shifted rookie Jonah Jackson from right to left, replacing the injured Joe Dahl.
It was not an excellent debut for Vaitai in a Lions uniform. He was regularly being worked over and was overmatched entirely on two of the four sacks Stafford endured. Vaitai also had a massive holding call late in the fourth quarter that negated a deep touchdown strike to Marvin Hall. The Lions failed to re-sign Graham Glasgow, not wanting to spend $10-plus million per season on a guard and paid Vaitai tackle money only to make his first start at guard and looked atrocious.
Now, it was Vaitai’s first start of the season coming off of an injury. Hopefully, it was just a rusty performance rather than being a free agent ‘bust’ signing.
Here are some of the key-player stats from Detroit’s first victory of the season;
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- Stafford 21-31, 270 passing yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
- Peterson 22 carries, 75 yards.
- Golladay 6-57-1
- Hockenson 4-53-0
- Marvin Jones 3-51-0
- James 3-28-1