Lions’ Den: Golladay Cheer Shines in Lions Debut

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Oh boy, what a wild ride Week 1 was for Detroit Lion fans. In a game that had five turnovers, two pick-sixes and Matt Prater punting, the Lions were able to pull out the win over the Arizona Cardinals, 35-23.

Some of the most outrageous football the NFL has ever seen happened in the first quarter. The Cardinals opening drive finished with a horrendous interception thrown by Carson Palmer, who decided to throw a pass right to Lions safety Tavon Wilson. The Lions following possession ended with an equally as bad interception that Arizona’s Justin Bethel took 82 yards to the house.

The pick-six was terrible, but it wasn’t the worst ending to a Lions drive that quarter. Punter Kasey Redfern, who is filling in for Sam Martin while he deals with an ankle injury, botched the snap while kicking out the back of the end zone. Instead of regathering himself and trying to get the punt off, he went for the tuck-and-run approach. It didn’t work and the Cardinal’s ended up getting the ball on Detroit’s 13-yard-line, leading to a Phil Dawson field goal. Cardinals were up 10-0 at the end of the first.

The defense is what kept the Lions in the game while the offense struggled to get rolling. It held Cardinals All-Pro running back David Johnson to a measly 23 yards on 11 carries and caused him to fumble. As a whole, Arizona only gained 45 yards on the ground. On top of stopping one of the most prolific backs in football, the Lions defense was able to pick off three of Palmer’s passes, one of which was returned for a touchdown by safety Miles Killebrew.

The Lions offense started finding its rhythm in the second quarter. After Glover Quin’s interception early in the quarter, Stafford led a balanced attack 58 yards down the field and connected with Marvin Jones Jr. for a six-yard touchdown. After a bobbled hold by backup quarterback Jake Rudock on the PAT, the Lions were only able to muster six points.

After Dawson struck the left upright on a 32-yard field goal attempt with 59 seconds left in the half, the Lions stormed downfield and set up Prater for a 58-yard field goal try. In typical Prater fashion, he nailed the deep field goal and the Lions went into half down 10-9.

The Lions defense didn’t have a great start coming out of the half. The Cardinals offense marched 94 yards for a touchdown on its first possession of the second half. Running back Kerwynn Williams punched it in from three yards out, putting the Cardinals up 17-9.

The Cardinals following possession didn’t have the same happy ending. On the first play of the drive, second-year defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson punched the ball out of Johnson’s hands and rookie linebacker Jarrad Davis, who lead the team with nine tackles, scooped it up and returned it to the Arizona 10 yard-line. Two plays later Theo Riddick was in the end zone with a seven yard touchdown reception. Instead of kicking a PAT, the Lions got greedy and tried to get an extra two points, but Arizona’s cornerback Patrick Peterson was able to break-up a pass in the end zone. Lions trailed 17-15.

After three quarters, the Lions offense was starting to click, but it was mainly through the air. Just like last season, the Lions were unable to have an effective attack on the ground. Ameer Abdullah was the leading rusher for Detroit with 30 yards on 15 carries. Dwayne Washington was right behind him, carrying the ball six times for 22 yards. The Lions had 82 yards on the ground, but 10 yards came on Redfern’s botched punt. In order for this team to have some real success, it will have to figure out how to establish the run game.

Through three quarters, Arizona was struggling, but had the lead and look as if they weren’t going to give it up.

Enter Kenny Golladay.

Golladay exploded in the fourth quarter. He had two receptions for 55 yards and two touchdowns. His first touchdown wasn’t anything over the top, but his second one… Wooh! Stafford hucked a 45-yard bomb down the middle of the field that Golladay had to lay out for.

With just two catches, Golladay was able to turn the whole entire game around for the Lions. After Golladay’s second trip to the end zone, Palmer threw his third and final interception to Killebrew, who made a trip to the end zone. In just over 10 minutes, the Lions flipped from being down down two points to being up 18.

The Cardinals were able to punch it in one last time to end the game, but failed on the two-point conversion bringing the final score to 35-23.

Despite the rough start, Stafford shined completing 70.7 percent of his passes for 292 yards, four touchdowns and a lone interception. Golden Tate was the No. 1 target, raking in 10 catches for 107 yards, but was unable to score. Golladay finished the day with four receptions for 69 yards and two touchdowns.

This was a tale of two halves. The Lions looked abysmal in the first 30 minutes; the defense was stout all game, but the offense and mainly the special teams had a rough start. In order for the Lions to make a playoff push they need to come out firing right out of the gate. Not having Martin to solidify the punting game can’t be the downfall of this team.

The Lions are looking onward to Week 2 against the New York Giants who, without Odell Beckham Jr., looked atrocious against the Dallas Cowboys.