The first Sunday of football, the only weekend where every team has a clean record going into the season. Even though this season will look a lot different, the product on the field shouldn’t.
Going into the 2020 season, the Detroit Lions were facing some high expectations after a poor 3-12-1 record the year before. With a healthy Matthew Stafford, a plethora of new faces (mostly more ex-Patriots), as well as high-regarded draft picks Jeff Okudah and D’Andre Swift, this team was primed for a possible division overtake. The city of Detroit was buying the hype, knowing this year was playoffs or bust for the Quinn/Patricia regime.
And then Week 1 happened:
The ultimate slap in the face…
The ‘if my cardboard cutout had legs, it would leave the stadium’ game
The ultimate Same Old Lions.. (I hate that phrase)
The team was without star wide receiver Kenny Golladay and rookie cornerback Okudah, and the Lions had to find a way to overcome those losses. They were playing a Chicago Bears team who was rolling with Michell Trubisky as their man under center, a guy who barely edged out Nick Foles for the starting job in training camp.
Even though the Lions were coming into the game as three-point favorites, they started out sloppy, going three-and-out on their first possession. It was proving difficult to move the ball without Golladay as rookie wideout Quintez Cephus led the team with 10 targets with just three receptions for 43 yards the whole game.
Stafford tried to spread the ball around, but nothing was really succeeding at first against a stout Bears-D. They only managed a Matt Prater field goal for the entire first quarter.
The Detroit-D was decent as well, stopping Chicago on a fourth-and-seven while in Lions territory. They too only gave up a field goal through the first 15 minutes, and the score was even 3-3 through Q1. Trubisky looked inaccurate and anxious, not making throws he has shown he is capable of making.
The second quarter featured a little more offense for the Lions, but also exposed some defensive troubles, ultimately foreshadowing what the rest of the game would look like. Newly-acquired linebacker Jamie Collins Sr. had an early exit after being disqualified from the game after making contact with an official with his helmet. Cornerback Justin Coleman also injured his hamstring before halftime and would not return for the rest of the game.
Stafford and Co. drove the ball more, starting the quarter with another Prater field goal, and followed it with the first TD of the game: a one-yard run by D’Andre Swift, the first TD of his career. Detroit went into halftime leading 13-6.
The Lions opened the second half strong with a seven-play, 72 yard drive ending with a TD pass to T.J. Hockenson. They would also tack on other field goal, holding what would then be a comfortable 23-6 lead.
They faced yet another big loss on defense when CB Desmond Trufant suffered a hamstring injury that forced him to miss the remainder of the contest. Trubisky then started to pick apart this thinned out cornerback group. The Bears scored their first TD on a two-yard jump ball to tight end Jimmy Graham at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
It was all Bears from then on out. After a missed field goal by Prater that hit the post, Chicago went on to score two more TDs on consecutive drives in the final four minutes of the game. Their last touchdown came moments before the only turnover of the game, a Stafford pass that ricocheted into a Kendall Fuller interception.
A 17-point lead wiped away in a matter of minutes. The Lions did have the final drive, however, and were surprisingly uptempo and efficient. They were in a good position to score after pushing the ball into the red zone with under a minute remaining.
With 11 seconds left, a Stafford shot at the end zone seemed to fly slow motion in mid-air. Swift beat his man and was crossing the pylon, hands waiting for a game-winning catch. At first, it looked to be a certain TD and a breathtaking win but as Swift turned toward the end zone he couldn’t secure the ball and the pass was incomplete. Stafford had one more attempt, but it was knocked down incomplete.
From excitement and relief to anger and disappointment, it was a rollercoaster of emotions within the final seconds. Would you expect anything else being a Lions fan though? Story of our lives. We carry on though like we always do.
This 27-23 loss was reminiscent of last year’s season opener in Arizona, but that game ended up in a tie. This game now makes it 11 blown fourth-quarter leads under Patricia’s tenure as coach.
Was the game more of a Lions collapse than a Bears comeback? You be the judge.
Trubisky finished the game completing 20/36 passes with 242 yards and 3 TDs, all of which were scored in the final quarter. Stafford also had a solid game completing 24/42 passes with 297 yards as well as one TD and one interception.
One pleasant surprise for the Lions was the performance of running back and recent signee Adrian Peterson. He was the clear leader in the backfield this game, breaking off several chunk plays and contributing to much of the offense’s success. Peterson finished the game with 114 total yards from scrimmage. Hopefully, he continues to be heavily involved and make a big impact in the games to come.
The Lions will have to have a short memory as they travel to Green Bay next week. The Packers put up 43 points in their week one game against the Vikings, so it could look to be a big challenge if the Lions have another lackluster performance.
It would be a huge disadvantage for the Lions to open their season with consecutive losses to division rivals. Hopefully, Golladay and Okudah make progress in the coming week in regards to their injuries, and the team can overcome this crushing loss.
This article is the kickoff to my weekly recaps, so for my sanity and yours I hope the Lions have a good season.