The Detroit Lions didn’t play a perfect game, but neither did the Los Angeles Chargers. In the end, the Lions managed to capitalize just enough on some bad LA mistakes and come away with the 13-10 win.
Here’s how it happened:
The Detroit Lions won the toss and deferred, meaning it would be up to Philip Rivers to kick off the game. But Detroit’s defense got off to another strong start, forcing a quick three-and-out after a Darius Slay pass breakup on third-and-long.
The Lions’ offense didn’t fare much better. After two ineffective runs from Kerryon Johnson, Matthew Stafford had to throw away his first passing attempt of the game after a free blitzer was threatening.
The Chargers got things going on the next drive thanks to a splash play from Austin Ekeler. Lined up out wide, Ekeler pulled a double move on Lions safety Tracy Walker and Rivers found him for a big 35-yard gain. Keenan Allen pitched in with catches of 12 of 10 yards, and Los Angeles would eventually punch it in Austin Ekeler on third-and-goal from the 1-yard line. 7-0 Chargers.
The Lions quickly answered with a steady drive of their own. Kerryon Johnson would cap it off on a brilliant double screen look. Johnson bobbled the ball but after corraling it, he would trot 36-yard for the potential game tying score. I say potential, because Matt Prater missed the extra point 7-6 Chargers.
Thanks to a split sack between A’Shawn Robinson and Romeo Okwara, the Lions defense would quickly get off the field, giving the Lions offense the ball back deep in their own zone (thanks to a special teams penalty on Miles Killebrew.)
The Lions managed to work their way out of the hole with a few first downs but couldn’t get past their own logo at midfield. Sam Martin’s punt nicely pinned the Chargers at their own 12-yard line.
The Lions defense continued to hold strong, but their special teams continued to look downright awful. After the Chargers punt, Jamal Agnew fumbled the return, but was bailed out by offsetting penalties. Danny Amendola replaced him on the replayed down, but a holding penalty erased his big return, setting the Lions inside their own 20.
Unfortunately, a good offensive drive was spoiled for the Lions. After a few nice runs from rookie Ty Johnson, Stafford missed Danny Amendola on a third-and-short. That meant it was up to Matt Prater to kick a chip-shot field goal from 40 yards, but he pushed it right and the Lions remained behind 7-6.
After another defensive stand from the Lions defense, Matthew Stafford had another opportunity to put points on the board before halftime. A big 24-yard pass to Marvin Jones Jr. on third-and-4 got the Lions to midfield. But Stafford just missed Kerryon Johnson on a wheel route and the Lions were forced to punt. Sam Martin laid a perfect punt, pinning the Chargers inside their own 5-yard line.
The Lions appeared content letting the Chargers run the half out, but Philip Rivers had a different idea in mind. Somehow with 11 second left Mike Williams slipped by the Lions defense and hauled in a 47-yard bomb to get Los Angeles in field goal position. Ty Long was good from 39 and the Lions were down at the half. 10-6 Chargers.
The Lions offense had another solid driving developing, but again they failed to finish it. After a bomb to Kenny Golladay that had Detroit in field goal position, Stafford took a risk throwing to Golladay in one-on-one coverage with Pro Bowl corner Casey Hayward Jr. The underthrown pass was perfectly intercepted by Hayward and Detroit squandered yet another good opportunity.
The ensuing Chargers drive was a whirlwind. First, Austin Ekeler took a screen pass for 25 yards, and on the very next play Justin Jackson took a run for 60 yards and a score. But a downfield holding block cut the damage down by 30 yards and took the points off the board. A few more penalties—including another one that nullified a touchdown—pushed the Chargers back. But Keenan Allen bested Darius Slay on this drive first with a 23-yard catch, then drawing a pass interference in the end zone.
And just as it looked like the Chargers were about to go up by two scores, Ekeler fumbled on the goal line—forced by Jahlani Tavai—and Devon Kennard recovered at the 3-yard line.
Unfortunately, the Lions couldn’t capitalize on the turnover and quickly went three-and-out, giving the Chargers decent field position about halfway through the third quarter.
The Chargers offense was back at it, steadily driving down the field, threatening to go up by two scores again. However, on a key third down Trey Flowers hit Rivers just as he was throwing, forcing the incompletion. Chargers kicker/punter Ty Long doink the ensuing 39-yard field goal off the left upright and AUDIBLE DONG IS BACK, BABY.
Stafford tried to get a splash play to get the Lions offense back on track, but a deep ball to Marvin Jones hung up too long and Chargers safety Rayshawn Jenkins picked him off.
It was an almost identical drive for the Chargers. The Lions bent and didn’t break, and another Trey Flowers pressure forced a third-down incompletion. Ty Long missed another short field goal and Detroit took over still down just four points with 11:45 remaining in the game.
Finally, FINALLY, the Lions made them pay. After converting a fourth-and-1, Stafford hit Kenny Golladay in stride for a 31-yard touchdown, giving Detroit their first lead of the day. 13-10 Lions.
Seeking the game-tying or game-winning drive, the Los Angeles Chargers did what they did nearly the entire second half, move methodically and efficiently down the throat of the Lions defense. Keenan Allen continued to pick up a couple key grabs with Darius Slay in coverage, and Los Angeles quickly found themselves in field goal position at the two-minute warning.
But after dueling all day with Allen, Darius Slay got the last laugh. Rivers through into double coverage and Big Play Slay came away with the interception.
All the Lions offense needed was one first down to put the game away. And with a play action pass on third down the Lions GOT IT! NO TIMEOUT WAS CALLED.
With the big win the Lions move to 1-0-1 and pick up a big win against a quality opponent.
Both teams are coming off a week of extra football, with the Lions unable to break the tie in overtime while the Chargers scored on the opening drive of the extra period, sealing a win for their season opener.
Now it’s Detroit’s team to make their debut in front of their home crowd. With the Packers and Vikings having impressive debuts in Week 1, the Lions can ill afford to fall a couple wins behind both teams, so this is a pretty big game for Detroit.
Los Angeles, on the other hand, are dealing with a load of injuries and are just hoping to try and keep pace in a competitive AFC West that had three winners in the opening week of the season.
Here’s how to watch this interconference Week 2 matchup.
How to watch Lions-Chargers
Date: Sunday, September 15, 2019
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Location: Ford Field — Detroit, MI
Week 2 TV Map: Courtesy of 506 Sports here
Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon, Jay Feely
Online streaming: Yahoo Sports app
Local radio: WJR-AM NEWS TALK 760
Radio announcers: Dan Miller, Lomas Brown
Odds: Chargers by 1.5