The Detroit Lions will never be accused of a team giving up. Much like last year’s home opener against the San Francisco 49ers, things looked bleak for the Lions midway through the third quarter, with the Lions trailing by three possessions against the Philadelphia Eagles.
However, the attack came alive in the second half and the defense got just enough saves to make things interesting.
Both teams were destroying the other on the ground, with nearly 400 yards on the ground between the two teams. But it was the Eagles’ Miles Sanders who put the nail in the Lions’ coffin with a 24-yard rush on a third-and-two late in the game. That run saw the Eagles run most of the remaining time, especially after fourth-and-first keeper Jalen Hurts barely made it on the first down.
In the end, the Lions fell to 0-1 after a 38-35 loss to the Eagles. Here’s how it happened.
The Eagles won the toss and postponed, giving the Lions the first opportunity to get on the scoreboard. D’Andre Swift opened the game with a massive 50-yard run to bring the Lions deep into Eagles territory and a few runs from Jamaal Williams sent them into the red zone.
That’s when the self-inflicted wounds started. DJ Chark dropped a first pass, then Logan Stenberg had back-to-back false starts, pushing the Lions to a second and 20 from the 25-yard line. Swift recovered half of it in a draw, and Jared Goff found TJ Hockenson just enough to pick up the first down and set up a first-and-a-go from 5. Williams took the ball at the 1-yard line and bounces it off a defender to hit him on second down. 7-0 Lions.
Jalen Hurts got the Eagles moving with his feet. Facing a third-and-15 lead, Hurts rushed and picked up 16, pushing Philly into Lions territory. But the Lions secondary presented itself in a big way. Jeff Okudah broke up a third-and-fifth pass, and Amani Oruwariye had tight coverage forcing an incompleteness when the Eagles opted in.
The Lions offense took over on their own 41-yard line. But Detroit couldn’t take advantage of the turnover on the downs, going three-and-out for what would be the first in a long streak for Detroit’s offense.
Hurts continued to punish the Lions with his legs, picking up another third as he ducked and ran after finding no one open. The Eagles faced a decisive third and fifth late in the first quarter.
Hurts fired an impressive pass just over Austin Bryant’s reach to AJ Brown to pick up the first down and put the Eagles first and goal at the 5-yard line. Two plays later, Hurts attempted to throw it, but was stopped within a yard. For the second time, the Eagles went for it on fourth down. This time Hurts came in after play action. 7-7 draw.
The Lions offense went three times for the second straight drive after some ineffective runs and miscommunication between Goff and DJ Chark that resulted in a pass wide of the Lions receiver.
The Eagles shot themselves in the foot the next drive, putting themselves in a good spot – second-and-1 at their 49-yard line, but a dropped pass and penalty forced them to a third-and-6, and a good coverage forced Hurts to scramble. This time he was caught from behind by Chris Board, although the Eagles quarterback threw the ball to avoid the sack. The play resulted in Philly’s first punt of the day.
Detroit tried to get a little more aggressive on offense, coming out with three straight passes, but all three fell incomplete, with the second and third pitches both beaten by Eagles defenders in tight coverage.
The Eagles took their first lead of the game in the next practice as the Lions defense looked gassed. Misdirection continued to give away the second tier of defense as Hurts found Dallas Goedert for a big 27-yard gain. Philly capped the eight-play, 66-yard run with a 1-yard touchdown from Miles Sanders in the belly. 14-7 Eagles.
Things went from bad to worse for the offense on the next ride. Facing a second and long, Goff saw immediate pressure and kicked the ball in before play developed – and it went straight into the arms of Eagles cornerback James Bradberry who waltzed into the end zone for a 21-7 The Eagles lead.
The Lions finally landed their first, first down of the second quarter with a big pass to Josh Reynolds for 28 yards. This was quickly followed by a 12-yard run from Swift and a 13-yard catch from Amon-Ra St. Brown in the red zone. Laying down a fourth-and-inch on the Eagles 6-yard line, the Lions faced a big decision at the two-minute warning. The Lions came out of the break, raced to the line and handed the ball to Swift on a sweep he easily took for the 7-yard score 21-14 Eagles.
With 1:51 remaining, the Eagles looked to add to their lead. After soaking and soaking on the court for a few plays, Tracy Walked picked up a nice sack during a blitz. However, coach Dan Campbell made a curious decision to call a timeout as the Eagles faced a second-and-16. After Hurts picked up 12 in the next game, the Eagles called a timeout. Then Hurts went deep to Brown with Will Harris in cover from a 54-yard bomb, putting the Eagles up first and scoring the 4.
It’s unclear why Okudah wasn’t for the game, but he would come back in the second half.
The Lions defense held off from there, however, forcing two misses and a -1 yard run. The Eagles would make the field goal to make it a two-point game at halftime. 24-14 Eagles.
After postponing in the first half, the Eagles started with the ball in the second half. The Lions defense had a chance to get out of the field quickly, but Hurts found Brown for a 10-yard pickup on third-and-7 with Jeff Okudah in soft coverage. A few plays later, a play option to Sanders picked up 24 yards and a rough call on Alex Anzalone veered in another 15 yards. A few plays later Kenneth Gainwell hit him from 2 yards out to do it 31-14 Eagles.
The Lions offense kept the chains moving the next drive with third-place pickups of 16 from Swift on the ground and 13 from Chark in the air. Then, on a third and a 7 in the red zone, Goff got out of trouble for a 10-yard gain, setting up Detroit’s first and goal from the 10. A few plays later, Goff hit Amon- Ra St. Brown for the 4-yard touchdown to make it 31-21 Eagles.
The Lions attempted to recover possession with a surprise kick, but the Eagles recovered; it didn’t take long for the Eagles to make them pay. Hurts rushed for a first down on a third down play that proved extremely costly for Detroit. Tracy Walker was called for a personal foul for hitting Hurts as he slid and then he threw a punch after the play. Although the Lions were only hit with one of those penalties, the two personal fouls by Walker meant he was ejected from the game.
On the very next play, the Eagles hit a 22-yard pass to Dallas Goedert, bringing the Eagles to the 1-yard line. Boston Scott hit it from there. 38-21 Eagles
The Lions offense continued to give the team a glimmer of hope, as Goff found St. Brown for a 29-yard gain, then hit Hockenson for 11 yards to drive deep into Eagles territory. Philly challenged the bobbling hold, but held off as the teams headed into the fourth quarter.
The Lions fired a clever fake double screen on the first play of the final quarter, and Swift took it to the 1-yard line. Williams struck fast to make it a 10-point game again. 38-28 Eagles.
The Lions defense finally got a well-deserved defensive save thanks to a late game penalty and a batted pass from Austin Bryant. Detroit got the ball back on its own 20-yard line, down 10 with 12:37 left.
A critical drop from Josh Reynolds on what would have been a big play stalled the Lions offense, and Goff missed a third down leading to a sack. Detroit was forced to return the ball and give the defense a chance to play. And, indeed, they made a play, forcing a quick three-and-out for the Eagles.
There wasn’t much time for the Lions – just 8:19 left – to get two unanswered scores. But the offense kept the pressure on with a steady drive and a dime to DJ Chark for a 22-yard touchdown and a Eagles deficit 38-35.
With just under four to play, the Eagles needed two first downs to win. On a third-and-two, it looked like the Lions had gotten the three-and-out they needed, but Sanders bounced off the wall of formed Lions defenders at the line of scrimmage and smashed it for 24 yards and a big first try.
With just two timeouts for the Lions, the Eagles could run one more game nonstop. Eventually, Hurts had a gutsy fourth and a first down, sealing the game for Philadelphia, 38-35.
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