Hey, no tie this time!
The Detroit Lions managed to put the Arizona Cardinals away, finally living up to the Dagger Time phrase. It might not have been the prettiest of games, but the Lions are in the win column after nearly a year of losing.
The biggest factor leading to the Lions success were turnovers. Entering the game, only the Lions and Texans were without a forced turnover. Not only did the Lions intercept Kyler Murray three times, but one of those came from rookie Jeff Okudah in what will surely be a confidence boost:
Equally encouraging was the existence of a pass rush. Murray was sacked only once, but the Lions were able to bring decent pressure for most of the game. Murray only ran for 29 yards, and given how elusive Murray is—Okudah learned this the hard way on a touchdown scamper—it is a positive for a unit that previously struggled. They are not elite by any means, but we are seeing progress.
On offense, Matthew Stafford was statistically solid with a pair of touchdowns and no interceptions, but it could have been a better day. A deep Marvin Hall touchdown was called back due to a Halapoulivaati Vaitai holding. Missed opportunities were aplenty, with Stafford missing some red zone shots to Danny Amendola and Jesse James. In hindsight, the Lions still won out, but if this team wants to be a competitor, Stafford needs to be at the top of his game. He was not on Sunday.
Meanwhile, to the dismay of fantasy owners, the Lions run game remains a mystery. After giving Kerryon Johnson a majority of the early carries last week, Adrian Peterson took over the workload in Week 3. The Lions fed him the ball 22 times, which turned in to a mere 75 yards. Excluding a 27 yard run on the very first drive, he made minimal progress on the ground. While Johnson had just three carries, he was superb as a pass protector. It was an underrated game for the young back. Surprisingly enough, it was D’Andre Swift as the odd man out:
D'Andre Swift played 5 snaps today, per @NextGenStats . I realize they won, but that seems egregiously low.— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) September 27, 2020
The offense looked better with Kenny Golladay returning to the lineup with his usual contested grabs, but the most shocking development from Sunday was Jesse James contributing in a positive fashion. James did not take away touches from T.J. Hockenson either, with the two tight ends totaling 81 yards. The Lions have been wanting to get multiple tight ends involved, and we finally saw it. With Hunter Bryant possibly on his way back, we could see more from this group.
The Lions sit at 1-2 on the season in third place in the NFC North. The Packers are looking like a great team at 3-0, the Bears are somehow looking like a disaster at 3-0, and the Vikings are somehow looking decent a 0-3. Wacky times. There will be plenty of shuffling as the season progresses.
Today’s Question of the Day is:
Do you feel better, worse, or the same after the Lions’ win over the Cardinals?
My answer: I feel the same after this win. Getting in the win column after the endeavor that was the 2019 campaign is huge, not only for the fans but the players and staff as well. 1-2 looks much better than 0-3 heading into a difficult match against the Saints.
However, I think a lot of this win comes from the Cardinals playing poorly, rather than the Lions playing well. Murray had a bad game, evident by the three interceptions, and there could have been more. A win is a win, but with such a significant turnover differential, you would like to see the team establish a larger lead. If Murray throws even one fewer pick, we are looking at a totally different game.
The Lions taking risks and forcing punts in the fourth quarter is a great sight to see, but I need to see more consistency from the offense and defense. The offense had a modest performance, although Golladay will likely step up once fully healthy. The defense is in a similar situation without a standout player. The secondary is a young and injured group, but their struggles have—and will—cost them down the road. The Lions do not have a dominant pass rusher or run defender either.
The Lions need to do better, but Sunday’s win was a step in the right direction.
How do you feel about the Lions after their loss to the Vikings?
This poll is closed
A lot better
A little better
A little worse
A lot worse