Skip to main content

RECAP: Lions at Chiefs

What a statement the Detroit Lions made Thursday night on a national stage.

Head coach Dan Campbell and the Lions went into GEHA Field at Arrowhead on a night when the Kansas City Chiefs raised their Super Bowl banner and defeated the defending champions and reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes, 21-20.

A David Montgomery 8-yard touchdown run gave the Lions a 21-20 lead with just over seven minutes remaining in the game. The Lions' defense did their part from there forcing a three and out and turnover on downs, and the offense was able to whittle away the final two minutes of the game behind their stout offensive line and run game.

It was a complete team effort to start the year 1-0.

Campbell has proven he isn't afraid to gamble a bit, and Detroit's first touchdown of the 2023 season was set up by a fake punt direct snap to linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin on a 4th and 2 at Detroit's 17-yard line. Reeves-Maybin rushed up the middle for a 3-yard gain. Quarterback Jared Goff and the offense did the rest from there capping off a 14-play, 91-yard drive with a 9-yard Goff to Amon-Ra St. Brown touchdown to give the Lions a 7-0 lead.

Mahomes answered right back on the Chiefs next position with a 1-yard touchdown to wide receiver Rashee Rice after a 13-play drive of his own.

The Lions were threatening to retake the lead late in the second quarter, but a couple miscues derailed a promising drive. First a fumbled snap for a 10-yard loss from the Chiefs 17-yard line back to the 27 and then a Marvin Jones Jr. fumble recovered by cornerback Trent McDuffie at the Kansas City 7-yard line.

Mahomes' second touchdown pass of the first half, a 4-yarder to tight end Blake Bell with just 34 seconds left before the half, gave the Chiefs a 14-7 lead at the half.

The Lions got right back into the game early in the third quarter with a 50-yard pick six from rookie cornerback Brian Branch on a deflected pass off the hands of Chiefs wide receiver Kadarius Toney that made it 14-14.

The Chiefs took a 20-14 lead early in the fourth quarter after back-to-back field goals of 35 and 39 yards from Harrison Butker.

But a nine-play, 75-yard drive capped off by an 8-yard run by Montgomery midway through the fourth quarter proved to be the difference for Detroit.

QB Comparison: Goff was very solid, completing 22-of-35 passes for 253 yards with one touchdown, no interceptions and a 94.1 passer rating. He extended his streak of attempts without throwing an interception to 359.

Mahomes completed 21 of his 39 passes for just 226 yards with a couple touchdowns, one interception and a 77.5 rating.

Key stat: After going 5-of-7 on third down in the first half, the Chiefs were 0-for-7 on third down in the second half.

Big play: Branch played so well in the spring and through training camp that Lions coaches were forced to play him with the starters and shift C.J. Gardner-Johnson from the nickel to safety.

Branch has been a consistent playmaker, so it's no surprise the rookie out of Alabama made one of the biggest plays for Detroit's defense Thursday night.

He snagged a deflected Mahomes pass at midfield and returned in 50 yards for a critical touchdown that tied the game at 14-14 early in third quarter.

It's the first of what's expected to be many big plays for Branch this season.

Injury report: Branch left the game late in the third quarter due to cramping but returned later in the fourth quarter. Defensive lineman Levi Onwuzurike left the game in the fourth quarter with what also looked like cramping, but his injury was never announced in the press box.

Up next: vs. Seattle, Sept. 17, 1 p.m.

Related Content