ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — There were many plays that caused the Detroit Lions to blow an 18-point late lead in Sunday’s opener in Arizona.
The instance getting the most attention, while being added to the long list of miserable Lions memories for the fan base, is a late timeout in the 27-27 tie against the Cardinals.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford was caught by television cameras appearing to twice say “trust me” after the sideline called a timeout as the play clock was winding down before a third-and-5 play in the fourth quarter. Though the play was blown dead, Stafford found J.J McKissic on a screen pass that might’ve put the game further out of reach for Kyler Murray and the Cardinals.
New offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell made the timeout signal, but head coach Matt Patricia said he calls the timeouts. Patricia insisted Monday there’s no trust issue with the 11th-year quarterback.
“To sum it up, like 1,000 percent,” Patricia said Monday when asked about his trust level with Stafford. “Everyone knows how much I think of, how highly I think of him and trust him. There’s no issue.”
Defensive lineman Damon Harrison tweeted after the game that he “got dominated” and took responsibility for the loss, in which he had one tackle.
“I wasn’t my usual productive self,” Harrison said Monday. “That’s what I meant by dominated. They didn’t do anything to take me out of my game. But anytime I don’t have the production I’m used to having, I feel like I let the team down.”
Stafford had it rolling throughout most of the game, completing 20 of his first 29 passes for 301 yards and three touchdowns. However, after going up 24-6 early in the fourth quarter, the Lions ran the ball eight times and passed three times on two straight empty possessions.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Special teams were sloppy, as Sam Martin had a punt blocked, getting only 11 yards on a kick that set up Arizona’s tying drive. Returner Jamal Agnew also fumbled away a punt, giving Arizona the ball at Detroit’s 8-yard line.
Rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson had six catches for 131 yards and a touchdown in his debut. The eighth overall draft pick from Iowa gained at least 10 yards on each of his first five catches.
Left tackle Taylor Decker had an opener to forget, with four penalties and two sacks allowed. The Lions had questions on the interior of the offensive line, with center Frank Ragnow dealing with a position change and ankle injury in the preseason, and Joe Dahl and Graham Glasgow as new starters at guard. But Decker’s afternoon causes consternation from a position where the Lions appeared set.
Cornerback Rashaan Melvin was a limited participant in practice last week with a knee injury but played well in his Detroit debut, making eight tackles. The Lions were without linebacker Jarrad Davis (ankle) and defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand (elbow), whose possible returns could help the defensive front against the Chargers on Sunday.
6 — The last six teams to tie a game in the NFL did not make the playoffs that season. Seattle tied Arizona on Oct. 23, 2016, and made the postseason. But since then, Washington, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Green Bay and Minnesota have tied games and missed the postseason that year.
After tying a rookie head coach and quarterback in Kliff Kingsbury and Murray, the Lions now have a tough stretch of opposing quarterbacks in Philip Rivers of the Los Angeles Chargers, Carson Wentz of Philadelphia and Patrick Mahomes of Kansas City before a bye week. Then, divisional matchups against Green Bay and Minnesota await.
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