Five reasons the Lions beat Washington, 30-27

DETROIT — Matt Prater kicked a 59-yard field goal with no time left to give the Detroit Lions a 30-27 win at Ford Field on Sunday.

If there had been a stadium full of fans they would have been on the edge of their seats for the final two minutes.

 “We got it close enough for the most clutch kicker in football to come out there and do his thing,’’ quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “So, I was extremely happy for Matt Prater and that operation to get it up and through the uprights. I mean, 59-yarder to win it, that’s what that guy loves to do and what we love having him for. He’s a special guy in those moments and I was really proud of him today for that.”

The Lions (4-5) snapped a two-game losing streak. It was the Lions’ first win at home since Oct. 27, 2019. Washington fell to 2-7.

Detroit held a 24-3 lead midway through the third quarter, but then the Lions defense allowed three straight touchdowns to knot the game up. Still Detroit was able to hold on for the victory.

Five reasons the Lions won:

1. Matt Prater, who had been a little inconsistent lately, came through with the winning 59-yard field goal which tied his longest while in Detroit. He also kicked another 37-yarder in the fourth quarter that gave the Lions a 27-24 lead. It was Prater’s second game-winning field goal this season and the 10th since he joined the Lions. He also kicked the winner at Arizona in Week 3. It was his 100th game in a Lions uniform. He said his mental approach to the game-winner was the same as any other kick. “Just go out and swing hard and hope it goes straight type of thing. I don’t need any more pressure on myself or think that it’s anything more than it is. It’s just a field goal,’’ Prater said. “Like I said in the past, I know I haven’t had the best year, but any time I go out, I expect to make them and coming through in those moments for the team is always big and great job by the team for getting down there to even give us a shot at it, with however many seconds were there when we got the ball after the kickoff. So it was pretty cool.”

2. Matthew Stafford threw three touchdown passes and managed the last-minute drive when Detroit got the ball with 16 seconds left and tied 27-27 at their own 25. He threw a 10-yard pass to Quintin Cephus, next play was incomplete to Cephus but Washington called for roughing the passer which got the Lions to the 50 with 6 seconds left. Stafford threw a short pass to Marvin Jones Jr.. Time out was called with 3 seconds left. Then Prater kicked the 59-yarder. Stafford finished 24 of 33 with 276 yards and a 127.8 quarter rating.  “There are definitely some things we can do better and it’ll help stretch the lead, but I’m just proud of our guys for fighting,’’ Stafford said. “A win is a win. It’s tough to win in this league, I’m never going to apologize for one. Could we play better? Yeah. But we did a nice job not turning the ball over, defense did a nice job getting some stops, our special teams was nails as it always is, so that was great.”

3. Running back D’Andre Swift got the start and proved that he was worth it. He had 16 carries for 81 yards and five catches for 68 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown catch. His runs of 5, 11 and 16 yards help set up the opening touchdown, a 55-yard pass to Marvin Jones Jr. “He did a great job when he had the opportunity to make plays today, he made some great ones. Some huge runs there in the second half, a big catch for a touchdown as well,’’ Stafford said. “I was really happy with the way he played. I know he had a bunch of fun out there running around and making plays. The more guys we can get doing that, I don’t care who it is, the better, but he definitely had a great day and I’m proud of him.”

4. The Lions defense, which has been problematic in past weeks, held on when it counted most late in the fourth quarter. They have work to do, no question. It was a start. Think baby steps. Alex Smith, in his first start since 2018, threw for 390 yards often to wide-open targets. 

5. The coaching gets the blame when they lose so they should get a little credit here for pulling off the win. Somehow the players keep a positive mindset even though the start to the season has not been what they envisioned. And despite letting Washington back in the  game in the second half, they persevered. So that’s something.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions) 

(Next up: The Lions play at Carolina at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 22.)

Lions Matt Prater rates his game-winning kick

Matt Prater’s NFL career features many highlights, but Sunday’s 48-yard, game-winning extra point topped them all for the Detroit Lions kicker.

“For me personally, that’s up there at the top especially since it’s an extra point. The distance doesn’t matter, you’re expected to make it every time,’’ Prater said. “It just happened to be a really far extra point. It’s definitely the farthest extra point I’ve ever attempted in my life. It was crazy. I’m happy we came through and got the win.’’

Prater is not new to the Lions. He warmed up on the sideline on Sunday in Atlanta when the Lions got the ball, down 22-16, with 64 seconds left.

“Anytime we get the ball with (Matthew) Stafford and a minute or less I’m always confident we’re going to score,’’ Prater said in a Zoom call on Monday. “So I started kicking into the net. Some guys let the emotions get the best of them and start celebrating, so I backed it up.’’

Good idea. Wide receiver Danny Amendola was penalized for ripping off his helmet (unsportsmanlike conduct) after Stafford’s touchdown throw to T.J. Hockenson tied the game at 22-22. That cost the Lions 15 yards making it a 48-yard extra point.

“I basically treated it like a long field goal and swung hard and it went straight so it worked out,’’ Prater said.

It was not new for him, but it was a first-time experience for some of the younger Lions.

“I think everyone was so excited on the sideline because some of the younger guys hadn’t seen him do it yet,’’ Prater added. “As soon as we got the ball I was getting ready but it’s always fun watching Stafford in those minutes.’’

Earlier in the game he had kicked field goals of 50, 51 and 49 yards. But he had missed one from 46 yards.

As it turned out, it didn’t matter. He nailed the one that mattered the most.

The Lions (3-3) face the Indianapolis Colts (4-2) at Ford Field at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Five things to know about Lions’ 26-23 win at Arizona

Matthew Stafford played his best game early this season and he got big-time help from the Lions’ defense which intercepted Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray three times.

The 26-23 win came courtesy of Matt Prater’s 39-yard field goal with the clock running out on Sunday in Arizona. It snapped the Lions’ 11-game losing streak.

“A chance to end the game on offense is what I want, that’s what we all practice for is to go out there and control the game at the end of it and win it,’’ Stafford said. “Obviously a good operation by our special teams at the end to get the win.”

However, it was definitely a team effort.  Mistakes? Sure. Penalties? A few killers. Missed opportunities? Oh yes.

Still the Lions overcame them and got the ball back with 1:52 left, the game tied at 23-23 and lousy field position at their own 9.

Stafford was four of five on that final drive. His 53-yard pass to Marvin Hall looked like a touchdown or at least a catch at the 1-yard line, but a holding call on Halapoulivaati Vaitai negated the play.

“We just had to move on to the next play. It is what it is, we’re all fighting tooth and nail,’’ Stafford said.

They could have folded or shrugged their shoulders, instead they marched down the field with some authority.

Five keys to the win:

1. Matthew Stafford had a good game, looked more like his old self. He completed 22 of 31 passes for 270 yards and a pair of touchdowns even though he was sacked four times. “I’ve been doing this a long time, I feel real comfortable in that situation, that’s the situation I want,’’ Stafford said. “I hate sitting on the bench and watching another phase trying to win the game for us. I love it. Had an opportunity in week 1 to get it done and got close, didn’t get it done. We had another opportunity today I wasn’t going to let that slip through my fingers.’’ It was his 29th fourth-quarter comeback, the most in the NFL since he joined the NFL in 2009. It was also his 35th game-winning drive, the second most in the NFL since 2009.

2. Kenny Golladay’s return, after missing the first two games with a hamstring, was huge. “Obviously a big weapon for us, made a great play in the red zone,’’ Stafford said. “Just an undersized safety (covering), I just tried to throw one up to a good spot for him, he went up and made a great play and got in which was awesome.’’ That touchdown gave the Lions a 17-13 lead with less than a minute left in the first half.

3. After zero takeaways in the first two games, this was a point of emphasis with the defense preparing for this week. Nice job. Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray had been intercepted just twice total in the first two games, but the Lions picked him off three times. Credit to rookie Jeff Okudah, Jamie Collins and Duron Harmon. Collins’ interception led to a Lions touchdown, while Okudah’s in the third quarter led to a Matt Prater field goal which gave Detroit a 20-16 lead. Win the turnover battle and often you win the game.

4. The defensive pressure up front which was lacking in the first two games is what helped with the interceptions. Murray was only sacked once (by Romeo Okwara) but he’s a mobile quarterback who is tough to get down. “You can see how dangerous he is when he gets in space. He’s got unbelievable quickness and acceleration,’’ Patricia said of Murray. Still much work to do on defense, but certainly the group looked better against the Cardinals who are now 2-1.

5. Running back Adrian Peterson got the workload in the running game. He finished with 22 carries for 75 yards and started with a 27-yard scamper on the Lions’ second play of the game from scrimmage. Not bad for a 35-year-old back. Kerryon Johnson had just three carries for 16 yards, but his work on pass protection was huge.

BY THE NUMBERS: Matt Prater kicked four field goals (37, 24, 35 and 39 yards). … Stafford completed passes to nine different guys. … Jason Fox averaged 55.5 yards on his four punts and had a long one of 65 yards. … The Lions were just 2 of 6 in the Red Zone while the Cardinals were 3 of 3. … Each team had seven penalties – Lions for 46 yards, Cardinals for 48. … Tracy Walker led the defense with 11 tackles. Collins and Okudah each had six.

NEXT SUNDAY: The Lions (1-2) play the New Orleans Saints at Ford Field at 1 p.m. e help from the Lions’ defense which picked off Cardinals quarterback Kyler 

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)