The Detroit Lions started off so well. Quickly building a 21-3 lead, it seemed like the team was destined for a positive start to the 2016 season. But much like last year’s opener against the San Diego Chargers, the Lions defense fell apart and let the Chargers back in the game. However, Matthew Stafford would not be denied and drove the Lions to a game-winning score.
The Lions kicked off the scoring with an impressive nine-play, 80-yard drive capped by a great 21-yard run from Theo Riddick, a career long for him.
Detroit’s defense answered the call, forcing two straight three-and-outs, thanks to good coverage from Darius Slay and DeAndre Levy. The first quarter ended with a huge statistical edge for the Lions.
The Lions began the second quarter with another impressive drive. Big third down pickups from Anquan Boldin and Eric Ebron kept the drive alive in Colts territory. Riddick got the Lions to the goal line after another huge catch and then rookie Dwayne Washington capped off the drive with his first career touchdown.
The Lions defense wasn’t going to hold the Colts down all game, and later in the second quarter the Colts drove deep into Detroit territory. However, Kerry Hyder picked up a huge sack—his second on the day—and forced the Colts to stall. A 50-yard field goal put Indianapolis on the board.
But the Detroit Lions quickly answered with a great mixture of passes and runs. Matthew Stafford drove the team another 75 yards for a score. This time, it was Eric Ebron who found the end zone, snagging a six-yard pass in traffic.
With the half winding down, the Colts quickly drove to get some points before the break. After some loose coverage from Nevin Lawson, the Colts got their way into the red zone and T.Y. Hilton made an unbelievable, but controversial, catch to convert on third down. The ball appeared to hit the ground, but the referees ruled Hilton had control before he rolled over and the ball hit the ground. Two plays later, Luck cashed in with a two-yard touchdown pass to Donte Moncrief. The Lions went into the half up 21-10.
After receiving the ball to start the second half, the Lions quickly ceded it back to Indianapolis, going three-and-out. The Colts quickly took advantage after Luck connected on a 51-yard bomb to Dwayne Allen. A blown coverage from the Lions secondary allowed Indy to score quickly and after a two-point conversion, it was suddenly 21-18 Lions. With less than halfway to go in the third quarter, it was a one-score game.
Detroit had no answer on offense, rushing twice before Stafford took his first sack of the day. Suddenly the Colts had the ball with a chance to take the lead. But the Lions defense stood firm and responded with a three-and-out of their own.
This time, the Lions offense gained its footing and drove down the field on the legs and feet of Ameer Abdullah. Abdullah gained six yards on the ground and an additional 42 yards through the air, including an 11-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford to push the Lions’ lead to 10.
Detroit took a 28-18 lead into the fourth quarter, but with the Colts driving. The Lions had the Colts stopped, but a taunting penalty on DeAndre Levy extended the drive. However, the Lions’ defense stayed strong and held the Colts to just three points by way of a Vinatieri field goal.
Again, the Lions offense responded with a three-and-out, their fourth of the game. But a good Sam Martin punt pinned the Colts deep in their own zone. However, Luck dissected the Lions secondary and connected with Jack Doyle for the game-tying score.
The Lions got the ball back desperately needing for some signs of life from the offense. Quickly the Lions drove down the field, against thanks mostly to their duo in the backfield. A screen pass to Riddick went to the house and the Lions were back on top. But Matt Prater missed the extra point, so the Colts had four minutes to erase a six-point difference.
And that missed extra point would be the difference. The Lions defense had no answer for Andrew Luck and the Colts took the lead with 37 seconds left.
The Lions drove all the way down into field goal position in short time and Matt Prater redeemed himself with a 43-yard field goal to win the game.
The Lions are 1-0 and face the Tennessee Titans next week.