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NOTEBOOK: How run game helped Lions control tempo vs. Cardinals

The Lions came into Sunday with a plan to control tempo with their ground game and keep the ball away from quarterback Kyler Murray and the explosive Arizona offense. It was a plan they executed pretty well Sunday in their 26-23 victory.

Detroit held the football for 5 minutes and 40 seconds more than the Cardinals, handing the ball off to Adrian Peterson 22 times. Peterson rolled off 75 yards and kept the clock moving.

Lions head coach Matt Patricia talks all the time about controlling the game. The best way to do that is by running the football, playing good defense and generating turnovers. Detroit's 90 total rushing yards don't seem like a lot, but when you combine that with how efficient quarterback Matthew Stafford was for most of the game (two touchdowns and no interceptions), it all adds up to being able to control tempo and grind the game away, which the Lions did with their four-minute offense to end the game.

"It really was important for us to try and do the best we could to control the game," Patricia said after the game. "I mean, they are so explosive on offense and their dynamic at quarterback and the skill players they have. I thought our offense did a great job of just slowing everything down and really trying to come through when they needed to."

This was definitely a game the Lions entered wanting to play a power running game. Peterson led them with 22 carries. Next was Kerryon Johnson, who had just three carries. Is this becoming Peterson's backfield in Detroit?


The Lions got their first victory of the season Sunday, a huge win in Arizona that thwarted an 0-3 start, but all veteran safety Duron Harmon could think about after the game was the interception he dropped in the third quarter.

"Duron comes up to me after the game and this is why you love him because he was like, 'I owe you one. That's my fault,'" Patricia said. "I was like, 'alright, well, we won, we're good, we'll move forward,' but all he cares about is trying to be perfect all the time and trying to make the best plays, and that's the stuff that has to breed into everyone else on the team."

Harmon did have a successful interception earlier in the game, and Detroit did win, so he definitely gets a pass, but Patricia appreciates that kind of leadership.


The Lions got offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai back on the field Sunday after he missed two games with a foot injury, but it wasn't at right tackle, where he was expected to play when the Lions signed him in free agency this offseason. Vaitai instead played right guard, with Tyrell Crosby playing right tackle. Crosby had filled in nicely at right tackle for Vaitai the first two weeks of the season.

Vaitai's first game action as a Lion featured mixed results. The Lions ran the ball pretty effectively over him at times, but Vaitai was credited with two sacks and had a huge holding call on Detroit's final drive that wiped out a long touchdown. To be fair, after watching the replay, it was a pretty weak holding call on him, but still, he needs to be better moving forward and he should be. This was his first game action in eight months.

"Big V hasn't been out there so we're just trying to make sure we got the guys out there based on what the opponent does," Patricia said. "Through the course of training camp we moved those guys around a little bit, so (Vaitai) played inside a little bit.

"Different problems they prevented, we're just trying to do the best we could to make everything with the best five guys out there."


  • Tight end T.J. Hockenson caught four passes for 53 yards to become the first tight end in Lions history to produce at least 50 receiving yards in each of the first three games of a season.
  • Peterson passed Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders (3,062) for the seventh most rushing attempts in NFL history.

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