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FOUR DOWNS: Defense picks off Murray three times in win over Cardinals


Detroit entered Sunday's game as one of only two teams in the NFL (Houston) who had yet to force a takeaway in either of their first two games. It was something head coach Matt Patricia, defensive coordinator Cory Undlin and some of the players on that side of the ball talked about correcting this week. Turnovers are one of the most vital statistics in football, and the Lions needed to start generating them.

And generate them, they did. The Lions' defense picked off Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray three times Sunday, and the offense turned them into 10 points in Detroit's 26-23 victory, their first of the season.

"Turnovers are critical every single week," Patricia said after the game. "We talked about it throughout the course of the week. We just haven't had them on defense. It was something that was really important to us. The guys did a great job of making plays."

Safety Duron Harmon, linebacker Jamie Collins Sr. and rookie cornerback Jeff Okudah all registered picks for Detroit. It was Okudah's first career interception in just his second start.

The Lions actually should have had four interceptions, but Harmon dropped what could have been his second of the game.

Detroit won the turnover battle in the game, 3-0. The defense overall played a pretty good game against a very explosive Arizona offense. Outside of the turnovers, the Lions' defense came up with two crucial stops in the fourth quarter, one deep in Arizona territory and one at midfield that helped swing the victory Detroit's way.


Quarterback Matthew Stafford and the Lions' offense coined the term 'dagger time' this offseason for those end-of-game moments where the team that makes the most plays wins the game.

Stafford found himself in one of those dagger moments Sunday as the offense took the field in a tie game with just under five minutes left on the clock and the ball at Detroit's 9-yard line.

"A chance to end the game on offense is what I want," Stafford said after the game. "It's what we all practice for, a chance to go out there and control the game at the end of it and win it."

That's exactly what the 11-year veteran did. Stafford orchestrated a 10-play, 70-yard drive in four minutes and 49 seconds to give Matt Prater a chance for the walk-off 39-yard field goal.

Stafford completed passes to running back Adrian Peterson, wide receiver Kenny Golladay and wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. (2), and threw a perfect pass to tight end T.J. Hockenson, who was interfered with, on the drive. The Hockenson pass came one play after a 52-yard touchdown reception to wide receiver Marvin Hall was wiped off the board due to a holding penalty.

Stafford was cool, calm, and collected, and put a dagger in the Arizona defense in the final five minutes of the game.

"I've been doing this a long time," Stafford said. "I feel real comfortable in that situation. That's the situation I want."


There have been a couple uncustomary missed field goals by Prater in Detroit's first two games. They were from 55 and 57 yards, which is by no means automatic, even for one of the most prolific long-range kickers in the history of the game.

Prater was frustrated with the two misses, special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs told the media this week, so it was good to see him get an opportunity to kick a game winner Sunday.

"I'm happy for him," Stafford said of Prater. "He's as clutch as they get. I've been around him long enough to know that he loves that moment. That moment has Matt Prater written all over it. I've watched him do it from 58 (yards) in Minnesota to send us into overtime, 59 (yards) before the half in Chicago, or whatever it was. I'm never worried about Prater. When he jogs out onto the field I think it's points."

Prater was a perfect 4-for-4 kicking field goals Sunday, including the walk-off game winner.

"It's just a good feeling," Prater said after the game. "I've always said in the past, anytime I go out to kick a field goal I expect to make it."


Okudah was picked on in his rookie debut in Green Bay last week. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers targeted him 10 times and completed seven passes for 121 yards. He was tasked with covering wide receiver Davante Adams in that contest, which is no easy task even for a veteran corner.  

Okudah was asked to match up with talented Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in his second start Sunday. Tough back-to-back assignments for Detroit's first-round pick.

Okudah was much more consistent this week, which included his first career interception off Murray in the third quarter. He undercut a Hopkins crossing route and returned it 32 yards into Cardinals territory to set up one of Prater's four field goals. 

"Coming into the game, for me personally, I was tired of being disrespected by everyone," Okudah said after the game. "I think the whole defense was tired of being disrespected and the whole team tired of being disrespected, so it's a game we took personal.

"We knew we had to get back on track in the win column and going up against an offense with great opportunity to show the work we put in this week."

It's been a learning experience for Okudah his first two starts going up against two of the top receivers in the game. He's been thrown into the fire, and it's good to see the rookie adapt on the fly and make a play Sunday that helped impact a victory.

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