Lions Den: Week 1 vs. Indianapolis Recap
So, the Detroit Lions opened their first season without Calvin Johnson in nearly nine years on Sunday as they took on the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1. Not exactly the best matchup to prove how good your team is without the best wide receiver the franchise has ever seen, but it could be worse. Besides, the Lions have plenty of other options on both sides of the ball that should be able to pick up the slack left behind by ‘Megatron’ but someone will most certainly have to step up and prove themselves as a leader for the team and, on Sunday, that came from a very unexpected person.
Coming into Sunday, the Lions’ defensive line were eating chomping at the bit to go up against one of the most subpar offensive lines in the league, despite having a quarterback like Andrew Luck, and that’s exactly what happened early on as Lions DE Kerry Hyder stopped a big opening drive from the Colts with a big third down sack on Andrew Luck that forced the first punt of the game.
A big question mark for the Lions this season would also be who was going to be the player to show up in the backfield. Theo Riddick proved himself last season as Ameer Abdullah still had some growing pains to overcome before he was ready to prove his worth to the team. Theo Riddick would be the player to ring the bell first for the team, scoring on a 21-yard running play to open the Lions’ first drive. Most notably, however, was quarterback Matthew Stafford showing a new set of passing abilities as he threw incredibly accurate passes to multiple receivers on the opening drive, including a huge 30-yard pass to newcomer Anquan Boldin that would get called back due to a holding penalty. Now, for those that know me, Matthew Stafford has been my biggest pet peeve for the Lions these past however many seasons as I simply didn’t think he was a good enough of a quarterback to lead the Lions to the playoffs. However, Stafford did some things on Sunday that left me a bit speechless (more on that later), including leading the team down the field for an 85-yard drive capped by a touchdown and a tough pass to TE Eric Ebron for a score.
Fast forward to the second half, the Lions open up the second half with a 21-10 lead but that would soon get washed away as the Colts open up the third quarter on fire, even going for a two-point conversion after their opening drive score (21-18). Stafford would see his first sack of the game in the first drive of the half but, after a couple three-and-out’s, RB Ameer Abdullah showed up with a huge 11-yard score off a great pass from Stafford after Theo Riddick made a trip to the locker room to be evaluated for a head injury and this is where every Lions fan starts looking at one another with an all too familiar look on their face (28-18). The Lions had plenty of opportunities to stop the Colts on their next few drives, but after a stupid penalty from DE DeAndre Levy that could’ve kept the Colts out of field goal range, and Andrew Luck exposing the Lions’ secondary, we are deep underway in the fourth quarter with a tie score (28-28).
Now, it wouldn’t be a ‘Football Sunday’ for Detroit Lions fans without something very Lions-y happening (yes, I made that word up but you know what I mean if you’ve been watching this team long enough). Riddick would return from the locker room just in the knick of time, as he capped off a dominating return with a TD reception from Stafford. Now, all we have to do is make the extra point, give us some breathing room for the final few minutes of the game and the Lions should escape with a Week 1 victory. Kicker Matt Prater lines up for the kick, Prater kicks the extra point, and Prater misses the extra point (34-28). This is the exact moment all Lions fans looked at each other and collectively said, “Yep, it’s going to be one of those seasons this year,” because the Colts would not only stride down the field and score, they would also make their extra point, putting them up by one measly point (35-34).
The following drive for the Lions, however, is the moment I talked about earlier regarding Matt Stafford. The amount of leadership Stafford showed during the team’s final drive down the field was something I, quite honestly, had never seen from the Georgia-alum. When a team has all three of their timeouts left during their final drive of the game, that’s practically a blessing from God, but that doesn’t mean you have any time to mess around and that’s basically what the Lions receiving core did. After multiple sideline passes from Stafford, not one single player showed any awareness to get out of bounds and stop the clock which led to the Lions wasting two of the three timeouts for no reason. Matthew Stafford wasn’t having any of it though and the cameras certainly caught all of it as he was cursing out his offense to, essentially, stop being idiots and get out of bound, but in a very leader-like type of way. After taking the team down to the 33-yard line, it was Matt Prater’s chance for redemption and he didn’t disappoint by making the 43-yard kick, putting the team up by two points, allowing the Lions to skate-off into the sunset with a 39-35 victory following a bizarre multi-lateral kickoff return from the Colts that eventually led to a safety.
Blood Pressure: 139 over 88
Alcohol Consumption: Three Stella Artois & two glasses of wine (*)
*It was my birthday weekend, I don’t know.