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Final score, highlights: Detroit Lions hold off Washington Commanders, win 36-27

The Detroit Lions didn’t make it easy on themselves, but after jumping out to a 22-point lead, they held on just long enough to win their first game of the season.

Washington Commanders v Detroit Lions Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

For the first half of the game, the Detroit Lions looked absolutely unstoppable. The defense absolutely dominated every facet of the game against the Washington Commanders. The offense was making big play after big play. Detroit held a 22-0 lead at halftime, and if we’re being honest, it probably should have been larger than that.

The Commanders would not make life as easy for Detroit in the final two quarters. On three separate occasions, quarterback Carson Wentz drove Washington into the end zone to potentially cut the lead to one score. But the Lions found a rebuttal the first two times on offense, and a key missed extra point late for Washington essentially sealed it for Detroit at the end.

First quarter

The Lions offense started with the ball, just like last week. But unlike last week, the Lions offense didn’t put up any points on their opening drive. In fact, Detroit went a quick three-and-out after Jared Goff took a sack on third-and-long preceded by a false start on Penei Sewell.

Fortunately, the Lions defense answered with a quick three-and-out of their own. Carson Wentz, too, was sacked on third down after failing to find anyone open. Aidan Hutchinson was the one to finally bring him down.

The Lions were the first to notch a big play on the day when Goff found a wide open Amon-Ra St. Brown for 49 yards on that third-and-3.

That got the Lions down inside the 25-yard line. They could only muster seven yards on the next three plays, eventually settling for a 35-yard field goal, and Austin Seibert drilled it. 3-0 Lions.

The Lions defense kicked off the next drive by forcing Wentz to get uncomfortable in the pocket. Malcolm Rodriguez came firing in and Wentz threw the ball away to nobody, drawing an intentional ground penalty that cost Washington 12 yards. That was it for the drive, as Washington punted after three plays again.

Detroit took over on their own 43-yard line to try and add to their lead. D’Andre Swift wasted no time getting Detroit into scoring position, taking the drive-opening handoff for 50 yards down to the Washington 7-yard line.

Detroit failed to get it in on three plays, so they ended up going for it on fourth-and-goal from the 3. Goff missed DJ Chark and the Lions turned it over on downs, though, tallying zero points despite the big play.

With Washington backed up against their own end zone, the Lions again brought the heat. This time Charles Harris got to Wentz’s blindside and forced the ball loose, which bounced out of the end zone for a safety. 5-0 Lions.

Kalif Raymond took the ensuing safety punt all the way down to the Washington 31-yard line, giving the offense a prime opportunity to make up for last drive’s failure. A pass to Craig Reynolds got Detroit down into the red zone. On third down, Goff lobbed a jump ball to St. Brown who leaped up and came down with it. 12-0 Lions.

Washington would fail to pick up a first down in the opening quarter, as they went three-and-out for the third time following a Wentz overthrow against Jeff Okudah in tight coverage. A short punt set the Lions up at their own 42-yard line as the game moved to the second quarter.

On the final play of the quarter, Goff connected with Josh Reynolds for a chunk 23-yard pickup.

Second quarter

The Lions tried a tricky flea flicker play to DJ Chark to open the second quarter, but it was defended well by Washington and fell incomplete. Detroit’s next two plays were rushes that fell well short of the first down, forcing Seibert to attempt a 48-yard field goal. It was good. 15-0 Lions.

Washington continued to lack an answer for the Lions defense, as Hutchinson’s second sack of the game forced Washington into a third-and-long. Wentz’s next completion was well short of the sticks on the checkdown, leaving the Commanders still seeking their first first-down of the game.

The Lions offense responded by pounding the rock down the Commanders’ throat. Four rushes for 35 yards moved Detroit into Washington territory, and this time the Lions didn’t waste the red zone trip. On a first-and-goal, a perfect play action fake left Josh Reynolds open for the 3-yard touchdown pass and a big 22-0 Lions lead.

Washington finally picked up a first down on the next drive, but that was all they got. The Lions defended the Commanders’ own attempt at a flea flicker, and a safety blitz forced a throw-away on third down.

The Lions couldn’t put the half away, going three-and-out quickly following a Goff pass that was nearly picked off. That left 2:43 for the Commanders to get on the board. But Hutchinson’s third sack of the half ended their drive quickly.

Third quarter

A good return from the Commanders put them at the 36-yard line to start the second half, and it didn’t take long for Wentz to finally move the offense. On the second play, he found rookie wideout Jahan Dotson for a 40-yard gain against Will Harris.

Two players later, Wentz lofted a nice ball to Curtis Samuel for a 15-yard touchdown. 22-7 Lions.

With the pressure back on the Lions offense, Detroit couldn’t respond, quickly going three-and-out following a Goff overthrow.

Wentz went right back to it, kicking off the next drive with an 18-yard pass to Terry McLaurin. But just as it seemed like Washington was working their way back into it, Wentz overthrew a deep pass that deflected into a diving Will Harris’ hands.

Detroit was able to pick up a single first down, but not much else. A nice Jack Fox punt was fair caught at the Washington 6-yard line, forcing the Commanders to start deep in their own territory.

But the deep ball continued to work for Wentz. He found McLaurin for a 35-yard bomb that got Washington to midfield. Then he found Samuel for another 28. Just two plays later, he found Logan Thomas up the seam for an easy 20-yard touchdown.

Washington added a two-point conversion to make it a one-score game. 22-15 Lions.

The Lions busted out of their funk with an end-around to St. Brown that went for 58 yards.

A sack put the Lions behind schedule to move the sticks, but that’s when D’Andre Swift delivered a huge play. Falling down untouched on a catch, the running back got back up and reversed direction to the house. 29-15 Lions.

Washington got into a fourth-and-1 situation at their own 26-yard line as the game moved into the fourth quarter.

Fourth quarter

An end around picked up the key fourth down for Washington, continuing their drive. A few big plays, including a 21-yard reverse to Samuel, got the Commanders deep into Lions territory. With Aidan Hutchinson limping, and Jeff Okudah to the locker room with what appeared to be a lower-leg injury, the Commanders were able to punch it in from a yard out.

Riverboat Ron Rivera decided to go for two, but Bobby Price picked it off to keep it an eight-point game. 29-21 Lions.

The Lions looked to push it back to a two-score lead and got of to a good start following a 18-yard diving catch from Hockenson. Goff had a big-time throw on third-and-2 to Brock Wright setting Detroit up at the Commanders’ 11-yard line. On the next play, Goff found St. Brown for an 11-yard touchdown, putting the Lions up 36-21 Lions with seven minutes left.

The Commanders would not give up, though. Wentz dinked and dunked his way down into the red zone—and even had an impressive scrambles of 18 and 11 yards. A jump ball pass to McLaurin got Washington to within nine points, but the Commanders’ kicker missed the extra point, and it remained a two-score game with just 1:56 left. 36-27 Lions.

The Lions recovered the ensuing onside kick. Instead of attempting a 51-yard field goal or pooch punting, the Lions went for it on fourth-and-3 to put away the game for good, but St. Brown dropped it. That gave the slightest of chances for the Commanders, down 9 with 1:30 left and no timeouts. But Washington never even made it to midfield.

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