Last week, in a tie with Arizona, the Detroit Lions couldn’t make the key plays in the fourth quarter on either side of the ball to walk out of the desert with a win.
It was a different story Sunday at Ford Field.
Trailing 10-6 midway through the fourth quarter, the Lions converted a 4th and 1 at the Chargers' 35-yard line. On the very next play, quarterback Matthew Stafford found wide receiver Kenny Golladay on a 31-yard touchdown strike to take the lead, 13-10.
A Detroit defense that didn’t make any plays in the fourth quarter last week made the biggest one of the game late when cornerback Darius Slay picked off Los Angeles quarterback Philip Rivers in the Lions' end zone with one minute and 10 seconds left in the game.
So much was made last week of the failed 3rd and 5 play that could have iced the game late. Faced with a 3rd and 6 with :53 seconds left and a first down sealing the win, Stafford rolled out and hit tight end Jesse James for seven yards and a first down.
It was a gutsy win for the Lions that also featured a fair amount of mistakes from both teams. Both teams turned the ball over twice, missed two kicks (Detroit a field goal and extra point and Los Angeles two field goals), and combined for 17 penalties for 141 yards.
But in the end, a win is a win and the Lions will take it.
The other Lions touchdown in the game came on a well-designed screen pass from Stafford to running back Kerryon Johnson for 36 yards.
QB comparison: Stafford finished the game 22-of-30 passing for 245 yards with two touchdowns, two interceptions and a passer rating of 91.7.
Rivers completed 21 of 36 passes with no touchdowns, one interception and a 73.0 passer rating.
Special teams problems: The Lions’ poor play on special teams extended into a second week.
Detroit was flagged five times (four accepted), missed a field goal (40 yards) and missed an extra point in the game. That’s on top of last week’s muffed punt, two penalties and blocked punt.
The Lions aren’t getting much from their return game either, and even made a move to replace Jamal Agnew after he fumbled for a second straight week. Danny Amendola took over punt duties and rookie Ty Johnson was back for a kickoff.
Special teams have been rough to start the year for the Lions.
The Chargers had their own issues on special teams. Their starting kicker, Michael Badgley was inactive for the game after injuring himself last week in practice. Punter Ty Long took over field goal kicking duties. He missed field goals from 39 and 41 yards in the second half to help keep Detroit in the game.
Next week: at Philadelphia