LIONS INSIDER

RECAP: Lions vs. Cardinals

Posted Sep 10, 2017

Tim Twentyman recaps the Detroit Lions' 35-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

The Detroit Lions started slow Sunday, but in the NFL, it’s not about the start, but the finish.

The first pass thrown by Matthew Stafford in the 2017 season resulted in an 82-yard pick-six for Arizona. Detroit also had some early issues on special teams, and had too many early penalties.

But Detroit’s defense was tough throughout, and bought the Lions' offense enough time to get going in the second half. And boy did they get it going.

Stafford threw three second-half touchdowns, and second-year safety Miles Killebrew put the finishing touches on a dominant second half for the Lions with the first pick-six of his career late in the fourth quarter that helped the Lions to a 35-23 win.

Detroit’s defense forced four turnovers, one of which was brought back for a score, and two others the offense turned into touchdowns.  

Marvin Jones Jr., Theo Riddick and rookie Kenny Golladay (2) all caught touchdowns in the game. Matt Prater added a 58-yard field goal right before the end of the first half.

QB Comparison: Stafford finished 29-of-41 passing for 292 yards with four touchdowns and the one interception. He finished with a 113.1 passer rating. He also rushed once for a 15-yard gain and a first down on a 3rd and long play.

Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer was far less sharp. He completed 27 of his 48 passes for 269 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions for a passer rating of 53.2.

Safety patrol: In 2016, the Lions were one of only two teams (Tampa Bay) with three safeties who recorded at least two interceptions and one of five teams who featured four safeties with at least one.

Both starting safeties – Glover Quin and Tavon Wilson – recorded interceptions in the first half Sunday. Killebrew, the team’s third safety, had a 35-yard interception return touchdown in fourth quarter. Nice start for that unit.

Play of game: The Lions drafted receiver Kenny Golladay in the third round because they liked his size and speed, and pegged him to be a pretty good weapon down the field and in the red zone.

In his first regular-season game, Golladay caught a red-zone touchdown, and also made the play of game, hauling in a diving 45-yard touchdown with 4:13 left in the fourth quarter to give the Lions a 28-17 lead.

Key stat: The Lions held the Cardinals to just 45 rushing yards.

Not so special: Detroit’s special teams had their issues early on. Punter Kasey Redfern dropped a snap in the Lions end zone and was injured when he then tried to run for the first down.

That forced kicker Matt Prater into kickoff and punting duties, as well as his normal field goal responsibilities. It also forced backup quarterback Jake Rudock into the holder role on field goals and extra points.

After the Lions’ first touchdown, Rudock mishandled the snap on the extra-point try, and couldn't get the ball in the end zone on the subsequent scramble.

Dwayne Washington also made a couple poor decisions taking the ball out of the end zone on kickoffs, and he negated a nice 11-yard punt return by Jamal Agnew in the first quarter with a roughing penalty. He was replaced on kickoff returns in the second half by Agnew.

The one positive was Prater. He hit a 58-yarder in the first half. He also had four punts for an average of 34.8, which isn’t bad at all considering he’d never punted in an NFL game before.

Injury report: Redfern injured his knee and did not return.

Golden Tate appeared to be bothered by a left hand injury for most of the game, but played through it.

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was shaken up in the second half, but returned.