Detroit Lions CB Darius Slay’s huge interception seals win over Chargers

DETROIT — Darius Slay rated it his second-best interception ever.

By going up and pulling the football away from Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen in the end zone with 1:10 left, Slay sealed the 13-10 win for the Detroit Lions.

Allen finished with eight catches for 98 yards, many of those yards coming with Slay covering him. 

“Oh man, he’s top five. He’s one of the best out here, best in the game. We were battling – back-and-forth, back-and-forth. (He) caught a couple passes, I made a couple break-ups. We know each other personally. We came out together,’’ Slay said. “It was a good battle. Good, friendly battle. We already knew what time it was. I was looking forward to this matchup just as much as he was. Now I just wish him the best the rest of this season.”

When he saw the ball coming into the end zone on that big play, Slay said, “That sh– mine, I saw that sh–, I said, ‘Oh this sh– mine.’ I’ve got to have that. He almost knocked it out but I got good hands, I’m a receiver.’’ 

He wasn’t surprised that quarterback Philip Rivers went to Allen on that third-and-19 play. 

“That’s his go-to guy, that’s his man. If I’m the quarterback I’m throwing to him too, I don’t care if he’s double-covered or triple-covered that’s my guy and I’m going to make sure to see if he can make a play. I just made one more play than he did,” Slay said.

The Lions defense held the Chargers scoreless in the second half.

“To hold them under 10 points is good. Man, Philip is an awesome quarterback, great  competitor. Before the game he sat there and told me, ‘Slay, it’s going to be early and often.’ So he already let me know it was going to be a competitive day,’’ Slay said. “I was prepared for it, he was prepared for it — I just made one more play at the end.’’

It wasn’t a perfect game for Slay. He was called for two defensive holding penalties in the second quarter (one was declined) and a big pass interference call in the third quarter in the end zone going up against Allen. He just had to get over those calls and he did.

 “I have to, because if I don’t, if I lose myself, I’m failing the team. I can’t do that. I have to stay on my grind, stay competing, because these boys look up to me and expect a lot out of me. I just try to go out and give them what I got,’’ Slay said.

A week earlier it looked like the defense let up in the fourth quarter trying (and failing) to hold onto a fourth-quarter lead at Arizona.

It was all different at Ford Field on Sunday.

“Last week we didn’t play all four quarters, but this week we did,’’ Slay said. “That’s why we got it done.’’

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Detroit Lions’ aggressive play pays off with a 13-10 win over Chargers

Matthew Stafford explains no holding back approach

DETROIT — If you ask Matthew Stafford, the Lions were confident in themselves even through the ups and downs of Sunday’s game. 

The Detroit Lions made mistakes on offense, defense and it seems especially on special teams. After a tough tie a week ago, they hung in there on Sunday and beat the Los Angeles Chargers, 13-10 at Ford Field.

It was truly September football.

“We put a ton of work in, that’s what we think back on, that’s what we put our trust in, we put the work in,’’ Stafford said afterward.

“This is, Matty P likes to say all the time, it’s September football. There’s some ugly stuff out there, all sides of the ball — offense, defense, and special teams — you’ve got to keep fighting, keep pushing and be great in situational and our ‘D’ was great in situational getting a pick to end the game. And we were able to convert a third-down, a gotta have it third-down, to make sure we don’t have to punt it back.

“Very rarely in September is the game super clean and everybody is a well-oiled machine,’’ Stafford said. “Sometimes the games are a little ugly, but we’ll take a win.’’

The game-winning touchdown came midway through the fourth quarter on a 31-yard pass from Stafford to Kenny Golladay.

“We put a little double-post concept, kind of on a single-high safety, the safety took the inside one and Kenny did a good enough job to use his big body to wall the corner off and I tried to shoot one in there and it ended up in a good spot,” Stafford said.

Cornerback Darius Slay, matched up most of the day with wide receiver Keenan Allen, got beat often. But when it mattered the most he lived up to his name — Big Play Slay.

With 1:10 left and the Lions holding onto the 3-point lead, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers throws a 28-yard pass into the end zone for Allen, but Slay was able to nab the interception.

Then the Lions got the ball back with 1:03 left and on third down they needed to convert to keep the ball away from the Chargers.

Stafford threw a 7-yard pass to tight end Jesse James to convert. 

“It was sweet, I loved it,’’ Stafford said. “Broke the huddle quick, caught them sleeping. It was the last thing on my mind when (Darrell Bevell) called it, it came into my helmet and I was like, ‘This is going to be awesome.’ I was just happy Jesse did enough just to get the first down, it was tough running at the third, nothing better than not having to punt it back.’’

Bevell, the new offensive coordinator, had enough trust to call that pass play even though Stafford had thrown a pair of interceptions in the second half.

“Bev’s an aggressive guy, I’m an aggressive player. When I’m out there, we work so hard, go trust yourself out there, you think something is going to work, go do it,’’ Stafford said.

“The one pick I threw in the end zone I probably — I’d like to throw it a little better — but I’m throwing that ball probably 10 times out of 10. That’s Kenny (Golladay) one-on-one with a corner, that’s a great shot. It didn’t work out, it ended up as a turnover and bad play for our team, but I’m putting that up there I’m aggressive I’m going to keep giving our guys chances because they’re great players.

“The second one obviously I can’t turn that ball over. There’s a running back sitting in the flat for a 15-yard gain.I got a little too aggressive there, but I think just that rubs off, confidence,’’ Stafford said.

It was just Stafford’s second game with Bevell running the show and improvements could be seen from the previous week.

“I go into every game really comfortable, I know what he’s going to call, now I’m learning more and more when he’s going to call it,’’ Stafford said. “That just comes with experience, but I’ve had a lot of fun playing in this system for twp games. I have a lot to clean up, can obviously play better, but I’m enjoying it.’’

Spoken like a true NFL gunslinger with a confident coach making the calls

Detroit Lions Taylor Decker, Jarrad Davis, Da’Shawn Hand out vs. Chargers

DETROIT — Starting left tackle Taylor Decker and linebacker Jarrad Davis are out in the Detroit Lions home opener against the Los Angeles Chargers today at Ford Field.

Decker, who injured his back in the tie at Arizona last Sunday, has practiced on a limited basis all week so this is no surprise. He was listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report. Decker started in all 16 games in 2018.

Tyrell Crosby, who started one game at right tackle last season, could get the start in Decker’s place.

Davis (ankle), who missed the opener last week, was also limited in practice all week and was listed as questionable. Last week rookie Jahlani Tavai and Jalen Reeves-Maybin stepped in with Devon Kennard wearing the helmet with the microphone.

Defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand (elbow), who also sat out last week, is once again sidelined. He too had limited practice this week and was listed as questionable.

The Lions have lost three of their last five home openers including last year when the N.Y. Jets clobbered them 48-17 in the regular season opener at Ford Field.

Other inactives for the Lions: QB David Blough, WR Travis Fulgham, CB Amani Oruwariye and G Beau Benzschawel.

Chargers inactives: Easton Stick, Michael Badgley, Roderic Teamer, Michael Davis, Jatavis Brown, Hunter Henry and Cortez Broughton.

Five things to know as Detroit Lions open home season against L.A. Chargers

No such thing as a must-win game in the second week of the NFL season, but this is close.

The Lions open their home season against the Los Angeles Chargers at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Ford Field. Detroit is coming off a fourth-quarter collapse that led to a 27-27 tie with the lowly Arizona Cardinals to open the season.

Less than 13 percent of NFL teams that start 0-2 make the playoffs. Not sure about 0-1-1 starts but it can’t be good.

“I feel very confident right now that the team is in a good mental space as far as preparing for the Chargers,’’ Patricia said this week.

Much of the start-of-the-season optimism about this bunch of Lions disappeared with that tie. Patricia wasn’t hired to tie games.

Onward.

Five things to know about Sunday’s game:

1. Matthew Stafford seems unrattled about the whole trust issue that was apparent when a timeout was called from the sidelines while the game clock was ticking down. If Stafford felt a timeout was needed, he would have signalled for one. Stafford downplayed the incident this week as did Patricia. Stafford is a pro who has been through a myriad of bad situations in his 10-plus seasons in Detroit. This should not affect his play one bit. He said he was over it while the media had not let it go.

2. The defense must find answers for the fourth-quarter collapse against the Cardinals. While solid in first three quarters, they appeared to let up in the fourth even though that’s been denied. If Jarrad Davis returns after missing the opener, that certainly could help boost the whole defense but Davis didn’t do much at Friday’s practice and is listed as questionable for Sunday. It’s quite a different scenario going against veteran quarterback Philip Rivers compared to rookie Kyler Murray. “Last (week) we went into that thing kind of blind, not knowing what was going on. But Philip has seen everything, he’s seen every coverage, every defense, there’s not going to be anything you can do to fool him,’’ safety Quandre Diggs said. “We’ve just got to be on our Ps and Qs and be ready to go.’’

3. Phillip Rivers is still Phillip Rivers after passing for 333 yards with three touchdowns and one interception in the overtime win against the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday. He will be without tight end Hunter Henry who is out for the season after suffering a tibia plateau fracture to his left knee in the opener. Henry had four catches for 60 yards in that game. Rivers’ two biggest targets are wide receiver Keenan Allen and running back Austin Ekeler who had a pair of touchdown catches in the opener. Allen earns top praise from Patricia who calls him an unbelievable athlete with great route-running ability: “His ability to cut to release off the line of scrimmage to really kind of move the defenders at the line to get open, get into space. His top of the route quickness – he’s got some subtleties in there. His head-turns, his shoulder-leans, and some of the ways he skips off the line of scrimmage he has some unorthodox releases too that are just extremely difficult to defend against.’’ 

4. The offensive line, in particular Taylor Decker must play better. Patricia was asked about Decker’s game on Friday and replied, ““I think the team had a tough day.” Sunday the offensive line will be facing pass rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram who each had a sack in the opener. It will also help if the Lions can establish a run game early. Kerryon Johnson averaged just 3.1 yards per carry (16 for 49 yards) in the tie. Decker was limited in practice this week with a back injury and is questionable for Sunday. Not much depth at left tackle so would expect to possibly see Tyrell Crosby or Kenny Wiggins start on the left side if Decker is out.

5. Coaching is key once again. Patricia and his team have to do better. Be aggressive and attack for four quarters, not three. Make adjustments throughout the game. It’s Coaching 101, but sometimes it’s not so apparent to those not on the sidelines. Patricia said there is no extra pressure this week to see if his team can bounce back from a tie. “Nope. Every game – we’ve got 16 of them – they’re all high anxiety games,’’ the coach said.

PREDICTION: Lions 27, Chargers 24. (Wouldn’t bet the house on it, but Lions are at home, Chargers playing at 9 a.m. their time. Both sides of the ball and special teams have to prove they are better than their fourth-quarter showing last week.)

Detroit Lions DT Mike Daniels happy to call Ford Field home

As member of Packers for 7 years he’s quite familiar

ALLEN PARK — Mike Daniels is no stranger to Ford Field.

As a defensive lineman for the Green Bay Packers for seven seasons he’s quite familiar with the Detroit Lions’ home field.

On Sunday, Daniels will play his first regular season game as a member of the Lions when they face the Los Angeles Chargers.

“Ford Field was always one of my favorite places to come and play. I’ve always enjoyed playing in the dome —  it’s loud, it’s exciting and that giant Pepsi bottle, that’s pretty cool,’’ Davis said on Friday. 

“The touchdown song used to annoy me, now I’m excited to hearing it. I’m really excited to be able to play out here, excited to get in front of a new fan base and be on their side for once,’’ Daniels said.”I’ve lost here quite a few times, the atmosphere here is definitely conducive to the home team winning.’’

Two games stand out in his memory. He remembers getting embarrassed on Thanksgiving. That was in 2013 when the Lions won 40-10. 

The other one vivid in his memory is the 2015 Hail Mary game — also known as the Miracle in Motown — when the Packers won on a Hail Mary pass from Aaron Rodgers to Richard Rodgers with no time left on the clock. 

“I remember just straight up getting whooped on the last two years,’’ Daniels said. “But I’m excited to be on this side of it.’’

Detroit Lions safety Quandre Diggs is huge fan of Chargers’ QB Philip Rivers

Chargers visit Ford Field in home opener on Sunday

It’s difficult to find an NFL safety who will openly admit his admiration and love for a quarterback he will be facing on Sunday.

That’s just how it is with Lions safety Quandre Diggs who will be looking across the line of scrimmage at Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers on Sunday at Ford Field.

Diggs’ brother, Quentin Jammer, who played 11 seasons with the Chargers (2002-2012), is the connection.

“I’ve always been a Philip guy, that’s one of my brother’s favorite teammates, he’s one of my favorite quarterbacks. I just love his passion, I love everything about Philip,’’ Diggs said on Wednesday. “I’ve been watching Philip — he got drafted in ’04, he probably started in ‘06 or ‘07 — I’ve been watching him since.’’

Diggs wasn’t done.

“I freaking love, love Philip, I love everything about him. Great family man, great dude,’’ Diggs said. “Of course he’s met me a few times, when I was a young buck. The first time we played him I went up and just told him who I was, he said, ‘I know it.’  Me and my brother look alike so I’m sure it’s crazy for him.’’

Diggs’ first game as a rookie in 2013 was against the Chargers in the opener.

“It was at Qualcomm where I went to so many games watching my brother play. It’s going to be weird seeing those colors across from me,’’ Diggs said. “At the end of the day I’m a Detroit Lion and I love everything about it.’’

His brother will be at Sunday’s game.

“It will be dope for him to be around the game. He’s still around, he still goes to Chargers’ events — drives up to LA. It’s dope, man,’’ Diggs said. 

Rivers, who has nine kids, used to live down the street from Jammer.

“It’s crazy how these things work together. He was one of my brother’s favorite teammates. You can ask him right now who his favorite Charger is and he’s going to tell you Philip. He loves the guy, Philip loves him back and I love Philip,’’ Diggs said. “… I enjoy these moments from a kid watching him. In my mind he’s a Hall of Famer. Me growing up watching him, it’s amazing how it’s my turn to go up against him now.’’

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

Matthew Stafford ‘over’ Sunday’s tie; 5 thoughts on facing the Chargers

ALLEN PARK — Yes, Matthew Stafford said, “Trust me” on the sidelines after the timeout was called as he was attempting to convert on a third-and-5 on Sunday.

Know this, the Detroit Lions quarterback is over the move that helped precipitate a 27-27 tie with the Arizona Cardinals.

Earlier in the week coach Matt Patricia said he has 1,000 percent trust in Stafford.

Stafford no longer sees this as an issue.

“I think it’s just, you know, every situation is probably different, every game situation is different, you get put in a million situations in practice they’re all different,’’ Stafford said on Wednesday. “I’m not worried about that, to be honest with you, we’ve moved past it probably better than you guys have.’’

Stafford, like his teammates and coaches, is busy preparing to play the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday at Ford Field.

Five thoughts from Stafford:

1. Moving on is key in the NFL where there are only 16 regular season games. “I think it’s a huge part of the NFL, win lose or draw every week, you’ve got to make sure you’re moving on,’’ Stafford said. “The Chargers get our attention, they’re a really good football team. They have a ton of talent across the board, they’ve been really successful the last couple years, they’ve got a great offense, a great quarterback (Philip Rivers) playing at a high level, then a defense that is really, really talented in a lot of areas.’’

2. Rivers, an eight-time Pro Bowler,  is just getting his 16th NFL season underway. “I’ve got a lot of respect for him as a player, he’s a great quarterback, he does a great job, I think under-appreciated in a lot of aspects,’’ Stafford said. “The guy shows up for his team every week, played in the AFC championship game with a torn ACL which is incredible. I’m sure he’s played through a million things that nobody knows about too.’’

3. In the first three quarters on Sunday, the new-look Darell Bevell offense moved the ball and took the 24-6 lead. So what did Stafford think. “There’s always things to be better, we can be a little more explosive in the run game, we were close a couple times, one block away or one (broken) tackle away, whatever it was,’’ Stafford said. “We were close in the run game, I thought we were explosive in the pass game which is good. We can be more efficient in the pass game, myself complete a couple more footballs. I was feeling good about it, I would’ve felt a whole lot better with a win but just keep it moving.’’

4. Tight end T.J. Hockenson set an NFL record for best game by rookie tight end in 59 years. Included in his highlights was a 23-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown catch. Here’s how Stafford remembers it: “It was third and forever (9), they play Tampa 2, we kind of ran a 4-vertical scheme, they let me out of the pocket a little so I tried to buy some time. I figured they weren’t going to let me have anything in rhythm for third down and long at that point. I was going to have to buy some time and make a play. They lost Hock in the back of the end zone, the frontside safety I think it was (D.J.) Swearinger, got super-wide and I was able to coax Hock into coming back a little bit inside and just threw it over the mike’s head and he made a great play.’’

5. Getting over a tie is a new experience. “It’s an odd feeling, to be honest with you. I haven’t experienced it as a professional,’’ Stafford said.” I don’t know the last time I tied anything.’’