If first impressions are everything, Matt Patricia is in for a rough career as the Detroit Lions head coach. In his first career game, the Lions were absolutely embarrassed on their home field in front of a national audience. Detroit dropped the opener 48-17 and there wasn’t much of anything that went right.
Here’s how it happened.
The Lions won the coin toss and decided to defer, leaving the Jets with no choice but to take the ball first. Sam Darnold was up first. And it didn’t take long for Darnold to make an impression—in a very wrong direction. On a rollout to his right, Darnold decided to throw the ball across his body, right into the arms of Quandre Diggs, who took it to the house:
The second possession for the Jets was a little more successful, but it stalled around midfield after Ezekiel Ansah picked up a sack on third down.
The Lions offense took the field for the first time afterwards, and couldn’t get anything going—a sign of things to come.
An early 7-yard loss from LeGarrette Blount sent the Lions into a hole they couldn’t recover from. To make matters worse, former Lions punt returner Andre Roberts took the punt for 43 yards, setting the Jets up in Lions field position.
After an injury scare to Darius Slay (he returned) and a few third-down conversions, the Jets punched it in and tied the game. 7-7.
The Lions offense picked up where they left off, which is to say... in neutral. A dropped pass by Theo Riddick was followed up with an desperate heave from Stafford that was intercepted, giving the Jets good field position once again. This time, the Lions would hold strong in the red zone, with Devon Kennard picking up the drive-killing sack. The Jets would add a field goal on the first play of the second quarter and take the lead. 10-7 Jets.
The Lions offense finally got going at the start of the second quarter thanks to the debut of Kerryon Johnson. The rookie running back took his first carry for five yards, then added a catch and a third down conversion. That’s when things got wacky.
Stafford threw an interception after TJ Jones’ route was disrupted on a timing play, but Kenny Golladay saved the day with a fumble-inducing hit, giving the ball right back to Detroit:
This might be the best play you'll see from a receiver his week, and it has nothing to do with catching the ball.— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) September 11, 2018
The Lions offense stalled from there and were forced to attempt a 55-yard field. Matt Prater didn’t get all of it, and it fell a couple yards short, leaving the game at 10-7 Jets and giving New York good field position yet again.
New York threatened into Lions territory, but a gadget running play on third-and-1 backfired and a 9-yard loss drove the Jets out of field goal position, and they were forced to punt.
The Lions offense remained stuck in neutral, and this time their drive came with more bad news. Stafford’s leg was rolled up on, and he was hobbling the rest of the drive. After just one first down, the Lions were forced to punt.
This time, Sam Darnold made them pay, connecting on a 41-yard bomb to Robby Anderson:
Sam Darnold finds Robby Anderson for a deep touchdown. First of his career.— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 11, 2018
And Matt Patricia is probably not too happy right now with his defense, but he's used to that stuff.pic.twitter.com/yu8YgCLwqA
The Lions, as they usually do, ran a pretty solid two-minute drill thanks to a couple of big plays from Kenny Golladay. However, the red zone struggles from last year apparently have carried over, and the Lions couldn’t punch it in despite having first-and-goal from the Jets’ 7-yard line. Detroit would add a field goal, cutting it to a one-score game before the end of the half. 17-10 Jets.
The Lions offense finally woke up, and did so in a hurry. It only took Stafford four plays—and four straight completions—to get the Lions their first offensive touchdown of the game, a 24-yard strike to Golden Tate. And just like that, it was tied. 17-17.
But the Jets struck back almost as quickly. Darnold hit Quincy Enunwa on a pick play with Nevin Lawson trailing in coverage for a 21-yard score. 24-17 Jets.
Stafford followrf with a critical mistake. Facing a third-and-1, the Lions quarterback targeted Theo Riddick, but completely overlooked Jets linebacker Darron Lee, who picked off Stafford for a touchdown. That was the third interception for Stafford on the day. 31-17 Jets.
And the bad kept coming. After a three-and-out that featured Matthew Stafford taking a hit that knocked him out for a play, the Jets returned the ensuing punt for a touchdown and the route was on. 38-17 Jets.
Stafford came back out, despite the injury, and immediately threw another interception. The Jets tacked on a field goal, pushing their lead to 24. 41-17 Jets.
Let’s just bullet point the rest of this one:
- Prater misses a 45-yard field goal.
- Isaiah Crowell runs for a 62-yard touchdown, 48-17 Jets.
- Lions offense turns it over on downs in the red zone.
- Jets three-and-out on three runs.
- Matt Cassel in, throws an interception.
- Jets probably would’ve scored, but took knees to bleed the final seconds off the clock.
- Jets fans are annoying.
The Lions obviously still need a lot of work to do, and Stafford hasn’t looked this bad in quite some time. It’s still obviously extremely early in the season, but Detroit can’t afford to fall too far behind in this division early.
The inactives for the game were announced just before kickoff and there were some big surprises. Former Lions second-round picks A’Shawn Robinson and Ameer Abdullah are both healthy scratches for the game, indicating they’re both pretty far down on the depth chart. Meanwhile, the Jets will be missing three starters, including wide receiver Jermaine Kearse.
Both teams will be looking to make a huge impression to start the season off right.
Here’s how to watch “Monday Night Football” and your 2018 Detroit Lions.
Date: September 10, 2018
Time: 7:10 p.m. ET
Local TV: ABC
Announcers: Beth Mowins (play-by-play), Brian Griese (analyst), Laura Rutledge (sideline reporter)
Online streaming: WatchESPN
Local radio: WJR 760 (Dan Miller, Lomas Brown)
National radio: Westwood One (Ian Eagle, James Lofton, Ross Tucker)
Odds: Lions by 6.5