Hard work pays off for Patricia’s Lions

Lions head coach Matt Patricia raises both arms in victory after the game against the New England Patriots at Ford Field.Photo Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Cooney

DETROIT — At last, Detroit has something to cheer about. After an opening day debacle against the New York Jets and a loss last week to the San Francisco 49ers — many thought it would be another lousy Lions season.

Well, Sunday changed that (at least temporarily) as the Lions dominated the Pats 26-10 to give Matt Patricia his first win as a head coach. The Lions had over 400 yards of offense and ran the ball extremely well as Kerryon Johnson had more than 100 yards rushing. The Lions’ three big receivers — Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay and Golden Tate — combined for 16 catches and 191 yards receiving.

The Lions started fast — something they failed to do in their first two games. The Lions led 13-3 at halftime. On the Lions’ first offensive possession, the Lions went on a 12-play, 65-yard drive that led to a field goal. Lions fan wanted Patricia to go for it on fourth-and-1 at the Pats’ 21-yard line, but he opted to kick the field goal.

Patricia said afterwards it was a tough decision, but he opted to take the points early in the game.

Later in the first half, the Lions finally put the ball in the end zone with a Golladay touchdown catch. The Lions led 10-0. The Lions had to be disappointed later in the first half when they drove to the New England 7 and had to kick a field goal to make the score 13-0.

Lions fans were likely nervous because a team does not beat Tom Brady kicking field goals. Brady led the Pats to the Detroit 18 just before the half when the drive stalled and the Pats kicked a field goal to make the score 13-3 Lions at halftime.

After Tom Brady threw a touchdown pass in the third quarter to running back James White to make the score 13-10, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford showed the mental toughness and resiliency to lead the Lions on a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive — capped off by a 33-yard touchdown to Jones that gave the Lions a 20-10 lead in the third quarter. That touchdown eliminated any thoughts of a Pats comeback.

The Pats offense didn’t score the rest of the way and the Lions added two field goals to make the final score at 26-10. The only reason for the Lions to be disappointed in the second half was that Stafford drove the Lions to the New England 14 late in the third quarter and the Lions once again had to settle for a field goal, which made the score 23-10.

The Lions’ final field goal came as a result of New England turning the ball over at their own 13. The Lions gained only four yards but ran the clock down until the two-minute warning and kicked a field goal to make the score 26-10.

The Pats showed little effort on their final drive as they mostly ran the ball. Bill Belichick clearly knew his team needed a lot of work.

Patricia said the hard work in practice finally paid off. While he has great respect for his mentor Belichick, he was happy for his players.

“I’m really proud of the players,” Patricia said. “I think they did a great job tonight. Give them all the credit for going out and trying to execute the plan and to go for a hard, tough football game against a great football team like the Patriots. I think the guys really understood that they had to do a lot better here all the way around and I think it started with the week of practice. I think we had a good week of practice, I think the guys kind of dove into it right from the start and really tried to do everything they could to learn the game-plan, learn our opponent, and go from there. So, just real proud of them. I think they did a great job. Give all the credit to the players, they’re the ones that did it out on the field. But understand that’s a really good football team we just played right there. Those guys are outstanding players. They’re coached at the highest level, so that’s a tough, hard, game.”