It wasn’t pretty, but the Detroit Lions picked up their first win on the road against the Cardinals since 1993. Both teams looked completely inept on offense for the majority of the game, but a defensive score and a solid drive from an unlikely offensive hero led to Detroit’s fifth win of the season. Unfortunately, it cost Detroit the health of several important players. Here’s how it happened.
The Detroit Lions offense was rolling to start the game. Thanks to four rushes for 34 yards, Detroit worked its way into Cardinals territory. But when Matthew Stafford dumped it off to LeGarrette Blount on first down, the veteran running back was stripped of the ball and wasted a promising possession.
The Cardinals offense responded by doing what they’ve been doing all season: nothing. A quick three-and-out gave the Lions the ball back after Romeo Okwara picked up a third-down sack. Detroit responded with a three-and-out of its own, and the Punting War was on.
Unfortunately for Detroit, the Punting War didn’t come without some casualties. Both Ezekiel Ansah and Da’Shawn Hand suffered injuries in the first quarter and were carted off. Ansah was immediately declared OUT, while Hand was questionable to return with a knee injury.
The Lions finally got on the board with a slowly sustained drive that ended with a GOOD third-and-long draw. The running play got the Lions into field goal position and Matt Prater knocked it through from 47 yards. 3-0 Lions.
Arizona responded with a nice drive of their own. Josh Rosen found Trent Sherfield for a 19-yard gain on third-and-10. A personal foul penalty put them right into field goal position. But the Lions’ defense stiffened up from there, and the Lions’ FIELD GOAL DEFENSE showed up again. Zane Gonzalez doinked a 54-yarder of the upright and the Lions remained ahead.
Detroit couldn’t do anything with the good field position, however. They quickly went three and out, and then they lost right tackle Rick Wagner to an injury, as well.
The Cardinals responded with a—stop me if you’ve heard this before—punt! Jarrad Davis had a tackle for loss and a sack, giving the Lions offense one more opportunity to score points before the end of the half, but Detroit couldn’t move the ball beyond midfield, and the Cardinals would run the rest of the time off the clock to end a quiet first quarter.
The Cardinals got the ball first to try and finally get on the board. They did not. After a couple of play got them to midfield, the Lions shut them down. A special teams penalty gave the Lions the ball at their own 10-yard line.
The Lions were able to get out of the shadow of their own endzone, earning a few first downs. But as the Lions were nearly crossing midfield, Michael Roberts dropped a third-down pass and Detroit punted the ball back to Arizona.
The Cardinals would finally put up the first touchdown of the game... but, thankfully, it was for the Detroit Lions. Darius Slay picked off Rosen for a beautiful 67-yard interception. 10-0 Lions.
The ugly game continued to be ugly early in the fourth. Penalties and poor offensive play plagued both teams, as more Lions continued to go down with injuries. Bruce Ellington and Charles Washington were both declared out in the second half.
The Cardinals finally got on the board. Rosen found success connecting with Sherfield against the Lions’ beat-up secondary and worked the Cards into the red zone. However, a holding penalty pushed them back and Darius Slay forced an incompletion on third down. The Cardinals opted for a chip-shot field goal to get on the board. 10-3 Lions.
With the Cardinals back in the game, and the Lions offense stalling all day, it would take a big effort to put the game away. That big effort came from Zach Zenner. The Lions’ fourth-string running back had seven carries for 43 yards on that drive alone, including the game-sealing 1-yard touchdown with just 4:05 left. 17-3 Lions.
The Lions are now 5-8 and not technically dead in the playoff race. With losses from the Panthers (6-7), Buccaneers (5-8), Washington (6-7) and (potentially) the Eagles, they really aren’t that far behind a Wild Card spot. That being said, they aren’t playing well enough to warrant a spot in the playoffs.
We’re officially in the final stretch of the Detroit Lions’ 2018 season. With just the final quarter of the season left to go, fans were hoping for some more exciting games on the docket.
Unfortunately, both the Cardinals and Lions are going through some serious struggles. Both teams are sporting first-time head coaches and the though the end results have been similar, the paths to a losing season have been much different.
For the Lions, high hopes from back-to-back 9-7 season were quickly dashed after the team couldn’t get thing right defensively, giving up huge plays on the ground and hard providing any resistance through the air. As the season rolled on, the roles reversed. Detroit added valuable pieces on defense and shipped away integral players on offense. Now Detroit stands as a team that is playing competitive defensive football, but have completely lost themselves offensively.
This was never going to be the Cardinals’ year. With a rookie quarterback, a defensive roster full of turnover and a scarcity of playmakers on both sides of the ball, 2018 always represented a rebuild year for Arizona. Unfortunately for them, injuries have destroyed any chance of the team being competitive this year. Though they’re coming off an unlikely win in Green Bay, fan confidence remains extremely low.
Still, both fanbases are starving for some reasons for optimism heading into the 2019 season and a Week 14 win could provide at least a little spark. Here’s how to watch Sunday’s game—and remember, it’s a late afternoon game.
How to watch Lions-Cardinals
Date: Sunday, December 9, 2018
Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
Location: State Farm Stadium — Glendale, AZ
Week 14 TV Map: Courtesy of 506 Sports here
Announcers: Tim Brando, Brady Quinn, Shane Bacon
Online streaming: Fox Sports Go, Yahoo Sports app
Local radio: WJR-AM NEWS TALK 760
Radio announcers: Dan Miller, Lomas Brown
Odds: Lions by 2.5