The Detroit Lions stepped on the gas early Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals and never looked back.
It was Arizona who came into Ford Field with everything to play for – the NFC West lead and playoff positioning – while Detroit’s been relegated to the role of spoiler the rest of the year.
But it was Detroit who came to play Sunday, and they dominated every aspect of Sunday’s contest on the way to a 30-12 win.
The victory improves Detroit’s record to 2-11-1 on the year, and they are now 2-2-1 over their last five contests.
Quarterback Jared Goff was on point all afternoon, throwing three touchdown passes and completing 80 percent of his throws. Running back Craig Reynolds notched his first 100-yard rushing performance (112 yards) in just his second game playing for Detroit.
The defense harassed Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray all afternoon and bottled him up most of the game.
Special teams was solid too with kicker Riley Patterson making all three of his field goals attempts and all three extra point attempts. He remains perfect on the year.
Detroit opened the game with a 10-0 lead, scoring on their first two possessions of the game, first on a 37-yard field goal by Riley Patterson and then a 37-yard strike from Goff to rookie wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Detroit’s defense held the potent Cardinals’ offense to three and outs on their first two possessions and continued to play well throughout the contest. They came up big late in the first half, thwarting a 4th and goal for Arizona from the Lions’ 3-yard line with an AJ Parker pass breakup. Cornerback Amani Oruwariye had a nice pass breakup in the end zone the play before on third down.
Goff and the offense took over at their own 3-yard line, and he drove them down the field 97 yards (aided by two roughing the passer penalties) and capped off the drive with a 22-yard pass to wide receiver Josh Reynolds with just 19 seconds left in the half to give Detroit a 17-0 halftime lead.
Early in the second half with the Lions leading 17-3 and driving in Arizona territory, Lions running back Godwin Igwebuike fumbled, and it was recovered by Arizona. But Oruwariye came to the rescue with a diving interception of Murray that he returned 50 yards to the Arizona 5-yard line. Detroit took a 24-3 lead on the next play with a 6-yard pass from Goff to fullback Jason Cabinda.
That was the dagger for the Lions.
Arizona scored their first touchdown of the game with less than five minutes left on a 26-yard pass from Murray to wide receiver Christian Kirk with the Lions up big.
QB comparison: Goff was on point all game for the Lions.
He completed 21-of-26 passes for 216 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 139.7 passer rating.
Murray completed 23 of his 41 passes for 257 yards with one touchdown and one interception for a 72.9 passer rating. He rushed for only three yards on four carries and was sacked twice by Lions outside linebacker Charles Harris.
Key moment: The Lions were leading by 14 points in the third quarter and driving in Arizona territory when Arizona defensive lineman Leki Fotu stripped Igwebuike of the football at the Arizona 47-yard line. It was recovered by cornerback Byron Murphy at the Arizona 44.
But just two plays later Oruwariye made one of the biggest plays of the game when he made a diving interception on a Murray pass intended for wide receiver A.J. Green at the Detroit 44-yard line. Oruwariye got to his feet and advanced the ball 50 yards to the Arizona 6-yard line. Detroit scored a touchdown on the next play to extend their big lead.
It was a crucial sequence in the game. Instead of Arizona cutting the lead to single digits, Detroit extended it to three scores.
Injury report: Linebacker Alex Anzalone, who was battling an ankle injury this week and was questionable to play, suffered a shoulder injury in the first half and did not return.
Linebacker Josh Woods also injured his shoulder in the first half and did not return, leaving the Lions pretty thin at inside linebacker with Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Derrick Barnes getting most of the reps from the second quarter on.
Up next: at Atlanta (6-7).