Five things to know about Detroit Lions’ 27-24 win at Philadelphia Eagles

When the Eagles blocked a Matt Prater field goal attempt, with less than 2 minutes left it could have been really bad news for the Detroit Lions.

After a penalty, Philadelphia had the ball at midfield with 1:40 remaining. Plenty of time to score a touchdown to win or a field goal for the tie. But the Lions’ defense held on and Detroit left the City of Brotherly Love with a 27-24 win and a 2-0-1 record on the season.

NFL games are typically won due to a handful of plays. This was no different.

Perhaps Matthew Stafford’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Marvin Jones Jr. early in the fourth to grab a 27-17 lead was key.

Another key pass play was on third-and-11 when Stafford connected with Danny Amendola for 15 yards and a first down later in the fourth.

Then, of course, the defense in the fourth quarter came up big.

Five things to know about the win:

1. Matthew Stafford was kept clean. For the second straight week, the offensive line stepped up and he was not sacked. He brought cookies to the offensive line after last week’s performance, maybe it was just the ticket. Taylor Decker returned at left tackle. Stafford was pressured, but not sacked. His numbers were fine (18-of-32, 201 yards, 1 TD) not spectacular, but a win is a win. He missed a throw on third-and-8 with 3:45 remaining when he underthrew Jones. He had more time than he thought. He’ll be the first to admit that error.

2. Jamal Agnew, who was benched the previous week after a fumble on a return, lined up to return the kickoff on the Lions’ first possession. Then he ran down the left sideline 100 yards for a touchdown. The offense hadn’t taken the field and the Lions had a 7-3 lead. Special teams turned things around after a bad outing the week before. Other than one short punt by Sam Martin and allowing the late blocked field goal, they played well. 

3. Jarrad Davis returned and his presence was noticeable on defense. The linebacker rotated in and out early in his first game of the season. He went out once with a foot injury but before Twitter could explode with his absence, he was back on the field. No interceptions against Carson Wentz, but Darius Slay recovered a fumble and returned it 28 yards to the Eagles’ 22. Slay left the game and didn’t return with a hamstring after that play. It’s unknown how serious it is. The defense forced three fumbles. The Eagles had five drops which had something to do with the defensive pressure. The Lions’ defense also sacked Wentz three times — Chrtistian Jones, Damon “Snacks” Harrison and Trey Flowers came up big. Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, their biggest offensive threat, had six catches for 64 yards but no touchdowns.

4. Quietly wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr., had a standout game with six catches for 101 yards and a touchdown. He was one of eight pass catchers found by Stafford. Kenny Golladay was targeted 8 times but only came up with 2 catches. Pedestrian numbers for the big guy but it wasn’t all on him, Stafford shared part of the blame there. 

5. The offense, under coordinator Darrell Bevell, stayed aggressive just like they did late in the win over the Chargers the previous week. It’s a good sign of things to come with this new offense. It’s a balanced attack with the run game coming around. Kerryon Johnson had 20 carries for 36 yards and a rushing touchdown, while J.D. McKissic had just one carry but it was for 44 yards.

UP NEXT: Next Sunday the Lions host Patrick Mahomes and the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) at Ford Field. The Chiefs beat the Ravens 33-28 Sunday.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

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Five things to watch as Detroit Lions face Eagles in Philadelphia

ALLEN PARK — After two weeks, the Lions remain undefeated even though that first-week tie still seems kind of ugly.

Onward.

The Lions are 5-point underdogs on the road at Philadelphia at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford said he doesn’t think at all about being 1-0-1.

“It’s just a huge challenge for us this week. Going to Philadelphia is a tough place to play. They have a bunch of good players and have been a really good team for a long time, so it’s just a new challenge for us, something we have to attack on its own,’’ Stafford said.

Stafford and his teammates agree that Sunday’s comeback win against the Chargers doesn’t mean much this week.

I think just because you did it last week doesn’t mean you’re going to do it again the next week, but also if you didn’t do it the week before, it doesn’t mean you can’t do it the next week,’’ Stafford said. “No, we take every challenge head-on as a new one.”

Five things to know about the Lions at the Eagles (1-1):

1. In the win over the Chargers, Stafford was let loose. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell called an aggressive game even after Stafford had thrown two interceptions. Afterward Stafford was smiling and it wasn’t just because of the win. Bevell is known for depending on the run game and certainly a balance (not necessarily 50-50) is key to an offense putting up points in the NFL, but Stafford has to be allowed to throw the bombs, to throw on an important third down. Maybe this is the change the Lions have needed over the past few years. Now we’ll see if it continues.

2. Stafford must be kept clean again. It’s rare when he goes through a game without being sacked like he did on Sunday. In the last five seasons he’s been sacked 213 times with only 7 games with no sacks. “Keeping the quarterback safe and protected is No. 1. You know obviously you’ve seen us do different things with Matthew (and the first thing is always trying to take care of him and how we keep him upright, even if he gets an opportunity to run,’’ Bevell said. “That’s always in the forefront of our minds because those guys are really hard to find, and we have a good one and we want to protect that guy.”

3. After missing left tackle Taylor Decker for one game and linebacker Jarrad Davis for two, it looks like the Lions will be mostly healthy in Philadelphia. Both practiced all week and are officially listed as questionable. Tyrell Crosby did a commendable job filling in for Decker on Sunday, but having a healthy Decker return would be a positive facing Fletcher Cox and the Eagles’ defensive line. “They have a solid front with Fletcher and Brandon Graham on the same side. They can move those guys around with (Derek) Barnett. It’s an active front,’’ Bevell said. “They do a great job of getting penetration and really trying to work up the field and wreak havoc that way. Fletcher has been a good player for a long time and something that we’ll have to make sure that we have answers for. It’s a good combination of him and Brandon Graham working on the side together.”

4. Matt Patricia did not confirm that Jarrad Davis will play on Sunday, but seemed optimistic before Friday’s practice. Davis’ presence would be huge against the EAgles offense led by Carson Wentz and fueled by TE Zach Ertz. “I think J.D., just in general, obviously this is a kid that loves the game,’’ Patricia said. “He just loves to come in and prepare every week and he loves to learn and he’s just every single day – that intensity to get better, as a coach, is something you love to see. I think he obviously provides a layer of leadership, I’ll say comfort or calmness, to the middle of the defense when he’s out there because of his knowledge and his ability to control the middle part of what we do in the defensive scheme. I think those other guys have done a great job and really Devon Kennard I think has stepped in great as far as the communication on the field. I think he’s done a phenomenal job of that too.’’

5. Special teams have not gotten off to a good start this season. Would expect that Matt Prater’s missed 40-yard field goal and missed extra point are just anomalies. Patricia said punt returner Jamal Agnew was benched for that game after a fumble, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be back as the return guy. Patricia does have options in Danny Amendola and Ty Johnson. Special teams also had too many penalties which is something that should be easy to clean up.

PREDICTION: Eagles 27, Lions 24. (Philadelphia is banged up while Detroit is mostly healthy. Still, it’s a tough place to play and pulling out a win would be a tough task.)

Detroit Lions Matthew Stafford meets up again with Eagles DC Jim Schwartz

DETROIT — Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz possibly knows Matthew Stafford better than any NFL quarterback. That doesn’t necessarily give him an advantage when the Lions play at Philadelphia on Sunday.

“I think he just understands how he thinks and how Matt (Stafford) operates. You still have to go play. He’s been a great quarterback for many years and he’s got a big arm and Jim understands that,’’ Eagles coach Doug Pederson said on a conference call. “I can’t give you all of my secrets, or Jim’s secrets, but I’m sure he’ll have something for him. He understands him. This business, this is the way it works.

“We’re going to draft players and players are going to move on. Coaches are going to move on and you’re going to see them in the future. You just always keep things in the back of your mind for when you do play them,’’ Pederson added.

Schwartz got his first NFL head coaching job with the Lions and spent five seasons (2009-13) in Detroit. 

 “A lot of fond memories. Obviously, I got drafted here by him and he was part of that process, so I appreciate him a lot for giving me the chance. We went to playoffs for the first time in a long time in this franchise’s history and did a lot of good things in kind of getting us to where we are now, which I’m proud of, and I know he is too,’’ Stafford said this week.

“As far as going against him, I’ve played against him a couple of times since then. I’ve got a lot of respect for him as a defensive coach. His guys play extremely hard. They’re in the right spot. They play aggressive. Year-in and year-out they’re really good defenses. They’re top-echelon defenses and this one seems to be no different,’’ the quarterback added.

Schwartz had been the Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator before joining the Lions. The Lions defenses under him and coordinator Gunther Cunningham had successes and failures.

The Eagles’ defense likely won’t have much similarity due to different personnel.

 “He’s going to adapt to the guys that he has in his locker room and he has on that team and play to their style and put them in their strengths,’’ Stafford said. “He’s like a lot of coaches in this league that do that. Just generally speaking, they’re an aggressive defense. They play extremely hard and they’re good at what they do.”

The Lions’ offense scored just a pair of touchdowns last week but it was enough for the 13-10 win over the Chargers. Still, it’s looking for more consistency.

“You’d love to score points on every single drive, and touchdowns if you can. We just have to do a better job of staying on the field a little bit on third down and we had some opportunities in the last game to stay on the field and didn’t,’’ Stafford said. “I think it would’ve ended up in some points. We just have to do a little bit better job there and then make sure when we get our opportunities for big plays, we have to hit them.”

Detroit Lions’ Taylor Decker on right path with back injury sidelined him

Unclear whether injury affected his play in Week 1

ALLEN PARK — Taylor Decker was limited again in Wednesday’s practice, but the Detroit Lions left tackle has a chance to play on Sunday in Philadelphia.

Decker missed Sunday’s home win over the Los Angeles Chargers with a bad back after playing poorly in the regular season opener.

“It’s coming along day by day, anybody that’s had a back they can be finicky,’’ Decker said. “Working every single day with the athletic training staff and coaching staff to try to take steps to improve.’’

Decker was unclear whether he thought the back was a factor in his sub-par play in the opener, a tie at the Arizona Cardinals.

“I think when you’re out on the field you’re expected to perform and that’s all I’ll say about that,’’ Decker said.

Tyrell Crosby started in place of Decker against the Chargers. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was not sacked the entire game thanks (in part) to protection from the line.

“They did an awesome job, hats off to Crosby for stepping in there and battling all game. Obviously the had two really good edge guys, he did a great job, the offense did a great job and the coaches did a great job of executing the game plan to come out with a win,’’ Decker said. “That was awesome, obviously great to win our home opener. Now we’ll move on and try to get another one.’’

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

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.’’

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.