LIONS WIN. THE LIONS WIN A GAME!
Detroit has logged their first win in 12 games, the last coming against the Giants 11 months to the day - October 27 2019, since their last.
It finished Lions 26 Cardinals 23 on a Prater FG from 39 yards as time expired.
A few takeaways:
Okudah can play! After sitting off Hopkins and allowing a few 10-yard gains early, he became more of a factor. Firstly with a pass breakup, then an interception where Murray threw the ball slightly behind the receiver but he showed electric pace to catch up to the play and returned the ball 36 yards. He recorded 6 total tackles, all solo, which is 2nd in tackles on the team. He also recorded 2 tackles for a loss and grew in confidence throughout. It wasn't a grade-A performance, but it was a big step up from Week 2. Long may that continue!
This team missed Kenny Golladay, badly. It was clear the offense has been struggling. Part of that can be attributed to Stafford who has been erratic. He didn't play all the snaps, logging 49 for 73% of all snaps, showing that with his recent injury he was being somewhat protected, but the TD grab he had could only have been done by him with a very high throw and he consistently made big catches.
Jesse James can catch a ball. He caught 3 of 4 for 28 and a TD. He seemed like a reliable pair of hands and while not perfect as a blocker was serviceable as the TE2 for the first game I can remember, let's see more of that!
Tracy Walker is a must-play. My colleague Aaron's favorite player, both him and Harmon played 100% of defensive snaps, and down the field, Detroit was never really threatened, in part because of how well they both played. Walker led the team in tackles with 12 total, 10 solo, in comparison Will Harris only played 29% of the snaps - sometimes the coaching staff recognise an issue when it happens.
Matt Patricia and the coaching staff deserve credit. Yes, you read that right. The previous 11 games have not been acceptable, yes. However, it is disingenuous to criticise them for getting it wrong if you can't praise them for getting it right. The Cardinals potentially presented the hardest offense to scheme for in the first 3 weeks. Green Bay is probably a better offense, but you know what you're getting there. Arizona come out 4 wide, with 4 excellent wideouts, one of the best scramblers in the league and an RB coming off an elite year. Arizona were limited to short to intermediate gains, they shut down the screen passes and swing passes and misdirections quickly and got pressure upfront. Part of the change was that they started playing a lot more zone - they played man coverage in 82% of snaps in weeks 1/2 to 55% in week 3. They also appeared to blitz more, although I can't find any data to back that up just yet. The coaching point is also recognised by Jeremy Reisman (@detroitonlion) of Pride Of Detroit who gave the coaching an A-, specifically highlighting Detroit going for a 4th and 1 early in the game and throwing on 2nd down in the final drive instead of going run-run.
So, Detroit are 1-2 with New Orleans (also 1-2) coming to Ford Field this coming Sunday. They'll be hurting after a loss to Green Bay in week 3 and out for blood. A lot may ride on Michael Thomas' availability in this one - more on that later in the week.
I've been on such a high today since the game yesterday. Monday's in the office go by so much more easily after a win - god its been too long since the last time - let's not leave it too long for the next one!
(also, watching on Zoom with fans from Britain and America, especially when the game-winning FG goes over is a surreal and amazing experience!)
How do you think we did? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments below!