Five things to know about Detroit Lions’ collapse, ending with a tie at Arizona

This was a game the Detroit Lions had to win to start the season. The Arizona Cardinals featured a rookie quarterback in Kyler Murray, were without their two starting cornerbacks and were playing first game under first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury.

Instead the Lions blew a 24-6 fourth-quarter lead and ended up with a 27-27 tie against the lowly Cardinals.

Oh, there’s plenty of blame to go around, but the coaching staff deserves a huge portion of it. This is a game of adjustments and they did not make them in the fourth quarter or overtime.

Also, they have to trust quarterback Matthew Stafford who had a solid opener (27-45, 385 yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions and 22 yards rushing). 

With 2:47 left in the fourth quarter, the Lions had the game most likely won. But offensive coordinator Darell Bevell called a timeout on a third-and-5. Stafford didn’t hear him, so ran the play – a screen pass to J.D. McKissic along the sidelines. It was complete. The Lions just had to hold on — the Cardinals did not have a timeout left.

But the timeout call negated the completion and the next pass attempt to Kenny Golladay was incomplete. The Cardinals got the ball after the punt, went downfield with Murray scoring on a 4-yard touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald and completing the 2-point conversion to Christian Kirk to tie the game and send it to overtime.

Murray looked like a rookie in the first three quarters and like a savior in the fourth and overtime. That was in part due to adjustments from the Cardinals and the fact that the Lions’ defense disappeared after playing solid in the first three quarters.

Five things to know: 

1. Patricia and his staff failed to adequately prepare the players and make adjustments when necessary. The Lions had a 24-6 lead in the fourth quarter, but everyone in Detroit knows that does not guarantee a win. That timeout is on his shoulders, as is the play of the defense in the fourth quarter and overtime.

2. Matthew Stafford was clearly angry after that bad timeout call. Can’t blame the guy. He appeared to be in midseason form. Starting his 11th season, he passed for 200 yards in the first half and 385 overall. The Lions are going to need more out of this new Bevell offense, but certainly saw a few good signs today. The run game needs work. Kerryon Johnson had 16 carries for 49 yards and C.J. Anderson had 11 for 35. OK, but not good enough for a Bevell offense which historically has leaned on the run. 

3. Two newcomers on offense were standouts. Neither really a surprise. Rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson had six catches for 131 yards and a touchdown. The first one for 28 yards, another for 39 yards. Wide receiver Danny Amendola’s 47-yard touchdown catch was half a great play by Stafford who dodged a pair of rushers just to get the ball in the air AND a stutter step by Amendola after the catch to clear the path to the end zone. Amendola did make a mental mistake on a reception in overtime. After catching the ball instead of running out of bounds to stop the clock, he cut inward. He finished with seven receptions for 104 yards.

4. The offensive line was a bit of a question mark going in. Frank Ragnow, who was injured in the preseason, started at center. Joe Dahl got the start at left guard and Graham Glasgow at right guard, but Kenny Wiggins rotated in at those two positions throughout the game. Left tackle Taylor Decker certainly did not have his best day in fact he was awful. He had at least three penalties and allowed two sacks. 

5. The defense played well for three quarters but it wasn’t enough. They were back on their heels the fourth quarter and Murray took advantage. Devon Kennard was credited with three sacks, and rookie Jahlani Tavai, who started in place of the injured Jarrad Davis, notched his first sack and was effective when he was in the game. 

BONUS: It doesn’t get easier. The Lions host the Chargers (who beat the Colts in OT) next Sunday at Ford Field. Then they play at the Eagles on Sept. 22, then home to the Kansas City Chief on Sept. 29 and at Green Bay on Oct. 14 after a bye week.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

 

Detroit Lions: Jarrad Davis, Frank Ragnow injuries not season-ending

Jarrad Davis and Frank Ragnow did not suffer season-ending injuries in the Detroit Lions’ preseason loss to the Bills on Friday night.

Lions coach Matt Patricia gave the update during a conference call on Saturday afternoon. 

He said neither one will play in the final preseason game at Cleveland on Thursday, but wouldn’t put a timetable on their returns. He also said neither one is in the category to be placed on injured reserve to return.

“The one great thing about these two guys is they have tremendous work ethic, we know they’re going to be working as hard as they can to get back as soon as possible,’’ Patricia said.

Patricia offered no specifics on the injuries.

Davis, the starting middle linebacker, was injured on the second snap of the game. And eventually carted off to the locker room from the sidelines. 

“Obviously J.D. does a tremendous job inside the building, outside the building, he just loves football. It’s 24/7 with him. He loves to study it, he loves to learn,’’ Patricia said. 

Ragnow, the starting center, went down about midway through the second quarter. He was helped off the field and it appeared he could not put weight on his right leg.

The first-round pick in 2018 started at left guard last season but moved to center during the offseason. 

UPDATED: Lions Jarrad Davis, Frank Ragnow injured in preseason loss to Bills

DETROIT — Nothing mattered when the game was over except that the Detroit Lions could have lost two starters for the season.

The Bills won 24-20 on Friday night at Ford Field, but that was almost inconsequential. 

Starting middle linebacker Jarrad Davis went down on the second snap of the game. It appears to be a right ankle injury. He was helped to the sideline and then carted off to the locker room. Never a good sign.

Davis had worked hard in the offseason to add 15 pounds of muscle to his frame. It appeared he was headed for a breakout season in his third year. 

Ragnow, a first-round pick in 2018 who moved to center in the offseason, went down midway through the second quarter. Medical personnel helped him off the field. He could not put weight on his right leg. No stopping at the bench, they helped him to the locker room immediately.

“We lost a couple guys early in the game, we have to grind through this here and through tomorrow and find out what’s going on,’’ coach Matt Patricia said. “With J.D. and Frank there’s nothing really to report right now, we’ll see what it looks like tomorrow and go through the normal procedures the day after the game to see what that looks like and go from there.’’

He offered no specifics on the injuries.

Rookie Jahlani Tavai would be the likely replacement for Davis if he’s out. After Davis went down it was Tavai and Jalen Reeves-Maybin lining up in the 3-4.

On the offensive line, Graham Glasgow moved back to center after Ragnow went out. Glasgow started Friday night at right guard, but was at center last season. Joe Dahl started at left guard. Kenny Wiggins, who started 10 games at right guard in 2018, could be the top option at right guard. 

“We’ve got to keep pushing forward as far as getting ready to go for us the big thing is we have to compete, the competition is still wide open and we’ve got to go out and guys have to make the most of their opportunities and we’ve got to continue to get better,’’ Patricia said.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions) 

Quarterback Matthew Stafford saw his first preseason action, playing into the second quarter. 

“It was good, had some fun, I love playing. I don’t care what the situation is. We practice hard, I want to go out there and play,’’ Stafford said. “It was good to go out there and operate. Some things to clean up on tape, some really good things we did but some things we have to clean up for sure and we’ll make sure we do that.’’

He was 12-of-19 for 137 yards and one touchdown. He appeared to escaped unscathed.

“It’s tough to judge where (the offense) is, where it’s going to be. I just know we’re always trying to be better,’’ Stafford said. “I think we made some explosive plays which was good. A few too many mistakes — stalled out in the red zone twice. One to Marv (Jones) I’d like back, just didn’t see it clear enough and obviously the fourth down we went for and didn’t get it. Those are two that you’d like to have back, but I was proud of the way the guys fought, our tempo was great, thought we ran the ball pretty efficiently, struggled a little early on, but did a nice job on the pass game and made some plays.’’

Rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson, a first-round pick, was targeted four times and came down with three catches for 52 yards, including a 32-yard gain. He and Stafford have connected well throughout training camp.

“It’s a lot of what you’ve seen in practice,’’ Stafford said.