There was no quit from the Detroit Lions Sunday after falling behind early to the San Francisco 49ers, but a late comeback came up just short and Detroit dropped their season opener, 41-33.
The 49ers' offense got cooking early and Detroit's defense had few answers. San Francisco scored touchdowns on three of their first four possessions to jump out to a big early lead.
San Francisco's offense scored 24 first-half points, and their defense added a pick-six to give them a 31-10 lead at the half.
Detroit's lone first-half touchdown came on a 6-yard pass from quarterback Jared Goff to tight end T.J. Hockenson, who led the Lions in receiving on the afternoon with eight receptions for 97 yards and a score. He also had a two-point conversion catch.
San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo hit wide receiver Deebo Samuel for a 79-yard touchdown midway through third quarter to increase the 49ers' lead to 38-10.
But that's when the Lions comeback started.
Detroit cut it to 34-17 with a 43-yard scoring strike from Goff to running back D’Andre Swift on a well-designed screen pass late in the third quarter.
Detroit made things very interesting late in the fourth quarter, adding a 1-yard touchdown run by Jamaal Williams in the final two minutes, followed by a two-point conversion by Hockenson, to trim the 49ers' lead to 41-25. Detroit then recovered an onside kick and pulled within a touchdown and two-point conversion on a Quintez Cephus 1-yard touchdown grab and two-point conversion to make it a 41-33 contest.
After recovering a 49ers' fumble with 53 seconds left in the contest, Goff and Co. got down to the 49ers' 19-yard line, but couldn't punch it in from there and turned the ball over on downs to end the game.
QB comparison: Goff, making his first start for Detroit since coming over in a trade for Matthew Stafford, completed 38-of-57 passes for 338 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. He finished with a 92.6 passer rating.
Garoppolo completed his first eight passes of the contest and finished completing 17 of his 25 attempts for 314 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions for a 124.2 passer rating.
Rookie Trey Lance played a couple series for the 49ers and was 1-for-1 passing with a 5-yard touchdown.
Key moment: The Lions were trailing 21-10 in the final two minutes of the first half and hoping to get some points to end the half knowing they had to kick it away to San Francisco to start the second half.
What Detroit and Goff couldn't do, however, was turn the ball over in that situation. But with one minute, 10 seconds left in the half, Goff threw an ill-advised pass into triple coverage that was intercepted by linebacker Dre Greenlaw, who returned it 39 yards for a touchdown to give the 49ers a 28-10 advantage. That turned out to be a costly mistake in an eventual one-score contest.
Rookie observation: First-round pick Penei Sewell made his first career start at left tackle taking the place of Taylor Decker, who had surgery on an injured finger/hand on Saturday and will spend at least the next three games on IR.
Sewell had a tough first matchup against 49ers talented edge rusher Nick Bosa, but he more than held his own over the course of the game. Bosa got the better of Sewell on a bull-rush early in the fourth quarter, forcing Goff to scramble. Bosa was able to track him down for the sack. The sack was more on Goff than Sewell, but Sewell was beat on the play. That was the only sack for Bosa on the day, who finished with four tackles, three tackles for loss and two quarterback hits to go with the one sack.
Injury report: Rookie linebacker Derrick Barnes suffered a lower right leg injury in the second quarter, but after a tape job on the sideline, did return to the game.
Veteran defensive end Michael Brockers was down briefly in the third quarter, but jogged off on his own accord and returned to the contest.
Wide receiver Tyrell Williams took a head-to-head blow from safety Jaquiski Tartt in the third quarter that drew a penalty on Tartt, but forced Williams to the locker room. He did not return.
Second-year cornerback Jeff Okudah suffered a left foot injury in the fourth quarter. He did not return.
Up next: at Green Bay, Mon. 8:20 p.m., ESPN