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O'HARA'S BURNING QUESTIONS: What did Lions accomplish with win over Patriots?

Burning questions: Plain and simple, what Sunday night's 26-10 victory over the New England Patriots – and all that went into it -- meant for the Detroit Lions and head coach Matt Patricia.

Question: Did the Lions save their season by beating the Patriots?

Answer: It's a long, long, long season, so it will be weeks and months before we know if they saved the season, but they saved the moment.

In a league that lives week to week with ups and downs, highs and lows, the Lions beat a quality opponent at home and gave head coach Matt Patricia his first victory.

The bottom line: For one week at least, and probably longer, the Lions can exhale and not have the shadow of a season of gloom and doom hovering over them.

That's how much winning means. That's how much cutting short a losing streak before it wrecks a season means.

View in-game photos from the Detroit Lions Week 3 game against the New England Patriots.

Q. Were the Lions the better team?

A. Yes. They deserved to win. They didn't win by a fluke, or a funky bounce or a controversial play. From start to finish, they were the better team. They got a fast start and kept the pressure on the Patriots all the way, with only a few anxious moments early in the second half.

Q. Unsung heroes: Who were they?

A. The offensive line. They opened the way for rookie Kerryon Johnson to rush for 100 yards, and they kept the rush off Matthew Stafford most of the night. They aren't unsung in the film room and among teammates and the coaching staff, and they deserve credit for how they played.

As much as any unit, they let the Lions dominate the game.

Q. First half: How would you describe it?

A. One-sided, and in the Lions' favor. The Patriots managed to get a field goal in the final minute to make it 13-3 at the intermission, but that was the only possession the Patriots gained in the first half.

The Lions had the advantage in every category that count: A 10-point lead, 17-3 in first downs (the Patriots got all three of theirs on the field-goal drive), 231-70 in yards gained and 38-19 in offensive plays run.

Q. Patriots turnaround: Getting the ball with the second-half kickoff was a chance for the Lions to add to their lead. Instead, they turned it over, and the Patriots – no surprise – took advantage. What went wrong at first?

A. On third and four, Matthew Stafford tried to hit tight end Luke Willson with a pass, but Willson was covered all the way by rookie linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley. There was no room to fit the ball in, and Bentley had an easy interception.

That gave the ball to the Patriots, and they responded like they have so often – driving to their first touchdown of the game. Tom Brady's nine-yard pass to running back James White on third and seven cut the lead to 13-10.

That quick, it was a game. And it was up to the Lions to respond.

Q. Lions turnaround: The Lions answered back with Matthew Stafford's second TD pass of the game, a defensive stop, and another possession that ended in a field goal that made the lead 23-10. How important was it that the Lions took the game back to the Patriots?.

A. It was important in a lot of ways. First was the score – the touchdown and field goal that made the lead 13 points. That meant the Patriots had to get to the end zone twice to get the lead. They couldn't do it with field goals.

And just as important, the Lions were playing good ball. They got stops on defense and cashed in on offense. They kept building the lead until it got to the final margin – 26-10.

Q. The difference: What was different from the first two games?

A. The Lions played complementary football Sunday night. The defense made stops, and the offense moved the ball.

The bottom line: The Lions were efficient, with no major breakdowns on either side of the ball.

Q. Key play, first half: Was there really a key play in giving the Lions their 10-point lead?

A. You could say all of them, especially the way they added up in the Lions' favor, but there was one big one by the Lions' defense on that last drive by the Patriots. The Patriots had a third and one at the Lions' 16 and had been moving the ball well, passing and running.

On a run for the first down by Sony Michel, safeties Glover Quin and Tavon Wilson combined to throw him for a two-yard loss and force the Patriots to settle for a field goal.

Making it 13-3 instead of 13-7 with a touchdown was a huge difference.

Q. Fourth and kick: On their first possession of the game the Lions had fourth and about a foot and kicked a field goal instead of going for the first down?

A. Not what I would have done. Matt Prater made a 38-yard field goal to give the Lions a 3-0 lead. I get the choice to put points on the board. However, the Lions had run the ball well on that opening possession. It would have made a statement if they'd gone for it on fourth down and made it.

Q. Patricia challenge: Patricia threw the challenge flag and won on a catch by Kenny Golladay in the first minute of the second quarter. The result: A TD for the Lions and a 10-0 lead. What was impressive about the challenge?

A. Getting the touchdown, of course. It starts with that. But beyond that, I liked the way Patricia was decisive. With help from his staff, he saw a chance for an early TD and a 10-point lead. It was close, and the officials on the field had ruled that Golladay was down.

Viewing the replay, it was clear that Golladay had extended the ball over the goal line. Good play call. Good throw by Stafford. Good effort by Golladay. Good challenge.

That's four for four on one play.

It was part of the winning formula for how the Lions played most of the game.

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