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5 takeaways from the Lions’ win over the Cardinals

The Lions pulled off the incredible upset on Sunday.

Arizona Cardinals v Detroit Lions Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images

What a win!

The Detroit Lions came out of nowhere to defeat the Arizona Cardinals. One of the top teams in the NFC fell flat against a ramshackle roster, giving the Lions their second win of the season. The Lions jumped out to an early lead, shutting out the Cardinals in the first half. The defense put the clamps on in the second half as well, resulting in a dominant 30-12 victory.

Here are some takeaways from that incredible upset:

David beats Goliath

Beating the Minnesota Vikings? An upset, but not too surprising. Tying the Pittsburgh Steelers? They’ve struggled and they were missing their quarterback.

Defeating the now 10-4 Arizona Cardinals, on the contrary? Now that’s a shock.

Almost nobody had Detroit beating the Cardinals today, except maybe Detroit. The Lions played inspired football, and for the first time this year, they played a full game. Detroit dominated the Cardinals in every facet. The Lions couldn’t be stopped on the ground. Jared Goff had a great game in the air. The run defense stepped up to shut down James Conner and Chase Edmonds. Even the passing defense was good, with Amani Oruwariye making an incredible diving interception.

This game is coach Dan Campbell’s pièce de résistance, and hopefully not his last. We have stressed patience with this rebuild all year, but this victory over the Cardinals is a glimpse at the future of the Lions.

There is so much to be excited about, from the coaching staff to the young players. Even if the Lions miss out on the first overall pick, they are still in a prime position to draft an important asset for their team. This win won’t amount to much in the standings, but this was an important stepping stone for Detroit.

It’s official: Amon-Ra has broken out

I could have said this after his 73-yard, game-winning outing last week against the Broncos, but today feels like the right time to declare it: Amon-Ra St. Brown is here.

With eight catches for 90 yards and a touchdown, he and Josh Reynolds have emerged as Jared Goff’s favorite targets. The rookie had a slow start to the season, but things have picked up in recent weeks. The Lions have started to use him in multiple ways—out wide, in the slot, screens, even in the backfield—and he is turning into the gadget this team needed.

Aaron Glenn will be a head coach sooner than later

It’s hard to comprehend how a defense this battered and bruised can play like it is.

Actually, no, it isn’t: Aaron Glenn is fantastic.

Looking at the Lions roster—missing their top pass rusher, top corner, top safety, and a myriad of other injuries—and you would expect an awful defense. Instead, Glenn has his defense going toe-to-toe with one of the most explosive offenses in the league. Sure, it was a bad game from the Cardinals, but that shouldn’t detract from what Glenn is doing.

Charles Harris, a former first-rounder, was signed off the scrapheap. He has now notched 7.5 sacks. Jalen Reeves-Maybin, formerly a special teamer, is playing well despite the Lions missing a starting linebacker (Alex Anzalone) and his replacement (Josh Woods). They had to start Will Harris at outside corner following injuries and illnesses to their starters. Even Brady Breeze, a player claimed off waivers, contributed on a few good plays.

This defense rallies around Aaron Glenn, and I can only hope the Lions are able to keep him for a few more seasons. He has head coach written all over him, and I can only imagine what he could do with some more talent on defense.

Time to shut down Swift?

Given D’Andre Swift’s injury history, I think the Lions should shut him down for the season.

The Lions aren’t in playoff contention, so this should be considered anyway, but the emergence of Craig Reynolds has left the running back group in good hands. Jamaal Williams isn’t expected to be out long-term, so he figures to return to a starting role soon. Reynolds has done nothing but impress since being signed by the Lions, and today, he added to that resume with a 100-yard rushing game. He’s made some incredible cuts, including one play where he shook off a tackle-for-loss and turned it into a big gain.

Swift is still an important part of the Lions' offense—his pass-catching is unmatched—but you only risk further injury by playing him again this year. If you abide by the notion of riding the hot hand, that’s Craig Reynolds. There’s nothing to gain by playing Swift. Let him heal fully and have him ready for 2022.

Don’t boo Matt Prater

Why are you booing Matt Prater? Prater is a Lions legend, notching many long-range game-winners that turned our hearts into roller coasters. He even won you free beer.

With the Lions entering a rebuild, it made sense to move on from him—spending $2 million on a kicker didn’t make a lot of sense for the Lions. The Lions had to cycle through a few kickers, but it appears as though they’ve acquired a good one with Riley Patterson, who remains perfect as a Lion so far.

However, that’s no reason to boo Prater. Sure, he’s the opposing kicker, but you don’t normally boo opposing kickers—Justin Tucker is an exception. Remember, Prater wanted to return to the Lions, but Detroit opted to go in a different direction. There should be no ill-will towards Prater. If anything, he should be cheered as one of the best to ever do it in Detroit.