The Detroit Lions had to fight for all four quarter, but they finally ended their 11-game losing streak and maybe, just maybe, saved their season.
Here’s how they pulled off a last-second, 26-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
The Lions offense got off to a promising start. Adrian Peterson continued his hot start to the season with a 27-yard run to start the game. But Detroit stalled in the red zone after Matthew Stafford was sacked on third down. Matt Prater knocked through a 37-yard field goal to give the Lions an early lead. 3-0 Lions.
Arizona was starting to drive down the field to retaliate, but the Lions defense finally picked up their first turnover of the season. Kyler Murray, under pressure from Jamie Collins Sr. overthrew his receiver and the tipped pass went right into the waiting arms of Duron Harmon.
Detroit couldn’t take advantage of the turnover, however. The Lions went three and out, and gave the Cardinals the ball back. That’s when Murray turned it on. Murray found a wide open Andy Isabella for 26 yards. A few plays later Isabella pulled another perfect pass from Murray, this time for a 13-yard touchdown:
The Lions offense continue to stall, as Halapoulivaati Vaitai allowed a sack on another third down.
But the defense gave the Lions another shot. Jamie Collins Sr. perfectly read Murray on a pass attempt to Larry Fitzgerald and picked it off, giving the Lions the ball deep in Cardinals territory.
With a few more rushes from Adrian Peterson, the Lions worked their way into the red zone. Facing a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, the Lions decided to go for it. A rub route perfectly executed from Kerryon Johnson left Jesse James wide open for the go-ahead score.
But Arizona’s offense remained in high gear. 18 yards to DeAndre Hopkins, 11 more to Hopkins. 11 to Dan Arnold. Once in the red zone, Murray shook Jeff Okudah out of his shoes for a 2-yard rushing touchdown on a designed rollout. 13-10 Cardinals.
With just under two minutes remaining, the Lions had three timeouts to get the score back to tied, at the very least, before the teams split for halftime. And took back the lead, they did. Stafford got big chunk plays to D’Andre Swift (19) and Jamal Agnew (20) to put them in the red zone. Kenny Golladay, back from injury, capped off the drive with a heck of a catch that stood after review. Check it out:
The Cardinals couldn’t do anything with the remaining 30 seconds on the clock, so that was the score at the half.
With the first possession of the second half, Arizona picked up where they left off. However, Detroit eventually got the stop they needed after the Cardinals got onto their side of the field. An awkward fourth-and-1 attempt with Kyler Murray off the field resulted in a false start, and Arizona settled for a 54-yard field goal. 17-16 Lions.
Detroit offense responded with their second three-and-out of the game. However, the Lions defense responded with a third interception of the day, this time from rookie Jeff Okudah.
Detroit was able to pick up a first down, but that’s it. Stafford missed an open T.J. Hockenson in the end zone, then overthrew Danny Amendola on the next play. The Lions settled for three, and extended the lead to four points. 20-16 Lions.
The Cardinals responded with a long, drawn-out 11-play drive to re-take the lead. Jeff Okudah suffered an injury mid-drive, puting backup Chris Jones into the game opposite Amani Oruwariye. Kyler Murray responded by going 5-of-6 and capping the drive with a 4-yard touchdown to Isabella. 23-20 Cardinals.
Detroit offense drove nicely to midfield, but then the Lions started shooting themselves in the foot. On a poor play design or a blown assignment, nose tackle Corey Peters ran unimpeded into the backfield, sacking Stafford for a 10 loss. A dropped pass, and illegal shift later, and the Lions faced a fourth-and-6 from the Cardinals 40-yard line. Detroit opted to try and get Arizona to jump offsides on a field goal look. They didn’t and Detroit punted.
But Detroit’s defense forced a three-and-out, and Jamal Agnew’s nice punt return gave the Lions the ball back at Arizona’s 36-yard line. Hockenson got them down into the red zone, but—once again—Detroit failed to punch it in for six. A chip-shot field goal tied the game up with 6:44 remaining in regulation. 23-23.
Detroit’s defense was able to get another stop, but got the ball backed up at their own 9-yard line with 4:49 left. Detroit drove to midfield and appeared to connect on a 52-yard touchdown pass to Marvin Hall for the go-ahead score. But a holding penalty on Vaitai negated the play, and forced at second-and-15 at the two minute warning.
A pass interference call on the Cardinals gave Detroit a first down in Arizona territory. A huge pass to Marvin Jones Jr. gained 20 yards, put the Lions in field goal position and allowed them to run the rest of the clock. Matt Prater