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Unruly Detroit Lions stumble against Arizona Cardinals, 21-25

After a promising first-half performance against the Arizona Cardinals, the Detroit Lions froze to take a Week 2 loss.

After a promising first-half performance against the Arizona Cardinals, the Detroit Lions froze to take a Week 2 loss.

Discipline? Who needs discipline? Oh, and please come back, Jason Hanson! We miss you!

The Detroit Lions (1-1) looked like the same old Lions on Sunday, losing by score of 21-25 to the Arizona Cardinals (1-1) on the heels of a great second-half defensive performance by Arizona, which completely shut down a Detroit offense missing running back Reggie Bush (knee).

On defense, Detroit died a slow, painful death all too reminiscent of their 2012 late-game failures, allowing Arizona to return from a 21-13 third-quarter deficit.

The Good

The offensive line continues to do a good job of protecting quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Cardinals only mustered one coverage sack (by defensive end Calais Campbell) and two hurries. Protection wasn’t the problem in the second half. The receivers’ hands were.

The defense finally scored a touchdown after not scoring any in 2012. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh pressured quarterback Carson Palmer and the Cardinals tight end stopped on his route, opening DeAndre Levy for an easy pick-six to put Detroit up 21-13 in the third quarter.

According to ProFootballFocus, Detroit finished with one sack, five quarterback hits, and 18 hurries. Suh netted two hits and two hurries, while Willie Young came up with a sack and five hurries but tarnished his performance with a costly hands to the face penalty. Rookie Ziggy Ansah was good in both pass rush and run defense; he also had a strip sack that was negated by Young’s infraction.

Stafford completed 24 of 36 attempts (66 percent) with two first-half touchdowns to wide receiver Calvin Johnson for an excellent Complete Quarterback Rating (CQBR) of 80.54.

Detroit finished even in the turnover department, with Bush’s fumble offset by the pick-six. The fumble gave Arizona the ball on the Detroit seven-yard line, but the defense was able to hold the Cardinals to a field goal.

The Bad

Matthew Stafford’s numbers were marred by the stone hands of his receivers, who were charged with six drops, and another pass that was batted away by the Cardinals. Although Stafford himself made no mistakes, the offensive scheme was too cautious after the loss of Reggie Bush. They took no shots deep, and the receivers were unable to get separation from the defensive backs. Cornerback Patrick Peterson did a great job of covering Megatron in the second half after struggling in the first two quarters.

There was one major breakdown in coverage, when rookie cornerback Darius Slay allowed running back Andre Ellington to score on a wheel route. Slay was ultimately benched in favor of veteran Rashean Mathis. Overall, the defense bent a lot but didn’t break — until the very end. The fourth-quarter touchdown drive they gave up was similar to the many defensive breakdowns they experienced in 2012.

After a strong showing last week, the running game was poor against Arizona’s stout run defense. Joique Bell had only eight carries for 31 yards (3.9 yards per carry) and Bush nine carries for 25 yards (2.5 ypc).

Although the turnover on downs to end the game and the blocked field goal don’t show up on the stat sheet as turnovers, they still cost Detroit the game. Wide receiver Nate Burleson was jammed on fourth down by the Honey Badger, rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu, and tackled short of the sticks.

The Lions lost, and Honey Badger just don’t care.

The Ugly

The eight penalties came at the worst possible times.

Willie Young’s hands to the face penalty negated a forced fumble by rookie Ziggy Ansah that would have given Detroit control of the game. A low hit on Carson Palmer by defensive linemen Israel Idonije put the Cardinals in field-goal range. Cornerback Bill Bentley was flagged for two defensive pass interference penalties and a holding penalty. In the fourth quarter, he failed to get his head around on a deep pass intended for Andre Roberts, setting Arizona up at the Detroit one-yard line.

Nate Burleson, Calvin Johnson, and tight end Brandon Pettigrew each had a dropped pass, while Joique Bell had three.

Placekicker David Akers continues to struggle against Arizona, having gone 10 of 18 the past three seasons. He missed two field goals in a row even after getting a second chance on a roughing-the-kicker penalty. An important fourth-quarter attempt was blocked, leaving the Lions without offensive points in the second half. He left six points off the board in a four-point loss.

Detroit’s average starting field position was its own 14-yard line, and they never started beyond their own 21-yard line. Any offense is going to struggle to win games when it’s force to work with so many long fields. Arizona kicked and punted well, but Detroit’s woes were exacerbated by two special teams penalties and one poor punt return by Michael Spurlock.

What’s next

The Detroit Lions must find a way to put this tough road loss behind them as they travel again in Week 3 to FedEx Field, a place where they have never won. They will be taking on the Washington Redskins (0-2), who have not looked good in either of their first two games. I will be in attendance at this game, representing Water Cooler Sports with my BOOMBAYA sign and my chicken suit.

A win on the road is important for Detroit to get its season on track in advance of two consecutive divisional games. I had projected Detroit to start out 2-1. If they can get the second win against the Redskins, they will be on pace for a good season.

MIBearFan moderator

You need to watch "Searching for Sugarmen" if you haven't seen it. Awesome story.

Cheeky Bastard
Cheeky Bastard

Watched the movie "Prometheus" last night.

It was alright. GF lost interest about 10 mins in though.


my flight back to Key West yesterday got bumped from 12 to 1:30 so Southwest gave me a $422 voucher so I might be going up for the Bucs vs Panthers Thurs. night game

The Real CJammin
The Real CJammin

Thank God the phones aren't ringing today.  Yesterday was hell.  


@King 50 Cal I'm still around always, just can't comment much. Work has been busy as hell these last couple weeks.

natesweet moderator

@CONCHS333 You a Key West native? My grandma was born and raised there. Grew up there while Hemmingway was still raging.

bp. moderator

@CONCHS333 That furious dude you see on the other sideline is Robert J.


@King 50 Cal Every Saint fan that was on the ESPN blog,is over there night and day.