After a 4-0 start, the Cardinals have lost nine straight, but the Lions haven’t earned the right to overlook anyone after losing their past five.
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From bad to worse.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford threw three interceptions Sunday, including two pick-6s, and the Lions lost to the Cardinals, 38-10, at University of Phoenix stadium, their sixth straight loss.
Arizona running back Beanie Wells ran for three touchdowns, but the Cardinals had two touchdown drives of 5 yards or less thanks to four turnovers by the Lions.
Although the Lions (4-10) lost their past five games, this one felt different.
The Cardinals (5-9) had lost their past nine games and were blown out 58-0 by the Seahawks last week. They hadn’t scored more than 19 points since Week 4, but closed the first half on a 21-0 run.
Wells was averaging 2.4 yards per carry this season, but finished with 17 carries for 67 yards and touchdowns of 5, 1 and 31 yards.
The lone bright spot for the Lions was wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who finished with 10 catches for 121 yards. It was Johnson’s seventh straight game with 100-plus receiving yards, tying an NFL record.
The Lions went three-and-out on their first three drives but managed to take a 7-0 lead on Mikel Leshoure’s 1-yard touchdown with 12:51 left in the second quarter.
But after that, it all went wrong for the Lions.
They forced a Cardinals punt, but the Lions’ Pat Lee ran into Stefan Logan and caused him to muff the punt. Arizona recovered at the Detroit 5, and Wells tied it at 7-7 with a 5-yard rushing touchdown on the next play. It was the Cardinals’ first touchdown in 11 quarters after being held to six total points the previous two games.
Two drives later, the Lions started at their 7 after Logan fielded a punt inside the 10. Consecutive false starts by linemen Gosder Cherilus and Riley Reiff moved them back to the 2.
Then, Stafford threw to a double-covered Johnson, and cornerback Patrick Peterson made a diving interception and ran it back to the Detroit 3. Two plays later, Wells punched in a 1-yard score.
On the Lions’ next drive, Stafford’s pass was intercepted by safety Rashad Johnson, who returned it 53 yards for a touchdown. The score gave the Cardinals a 21-7 lead with 30 seconds left in the first half.
The Cardinals made it 24 unanswered points with a 51-yard field goal by Jay Feely early in the third quarter.
The Lions answered with a 41-yard field goal by Jason Hanson to cut it to 24-14. Hanson’s kick tied Morten Anderson’s NFL-record 187 career field goals.
From there, though, it was all Cardinals. The Lions drove down to the Arizona 4, but on fourth-and-2, Stafford was intercepted by Greg Toler, who returned it for a franchise-record 102-yard touchdown.
Down 31-10 with 5:07 left in the fourth quarter, the Lions couldn’t find any offense and turned it over on downs after Stafford suffered a fourth-down sack.
Wells put the game further out of reach with his 31-yard touchdown run two plays later.
Stafford started 0-for-6 and finished the first half 9-for-22 for just 85 yards with the two costly interceptions.
He finished 24 of 50 for 246 yards and three interceptions.
Johnson’s first catch was his 97th of the year, setting a career high for receptions in a season. He later became the third Lions receiver with 100 catches in a season, joining Herman Moore and Brett Perriman.
But Peterson kept Johnson in check for most of their one-on-one battles, and double teams took him out at other times. A few long receptions helped him eclipse the century mark.
Lions cornerback Jacob Lacey left the game with a left knee injury on the Cardinals first drive and didn’t return.
The Lions kept saying the Cardinals secondary was good in the week leading up to today’s game.
Apparently, Matthew Stafford forgot once the second quarter began.
Arizona cornerback Greg Toler intercepted Stafford in the end zone and raced to a 102-yard touchdown to give the Cardinals a 31-10 lead with 5:07 remaining in the fourth quarter.
It was the Cardinals’ second pick-6 of the game and Stafford’s third interception.
The Lions drove down to the 4, but a delay of game penalty took a touchdown pass to Kris Durham off the board.
The Lions had yet another three-and-out to end the third quarter, so the fourth quarter will begin with a punt.
Until the current five-game losing streak, the Lions had a lot of success in the fourth quarter, so let’s see if they can find that magic again.
They trail the Cardinals 24-10.
It’s a two-score game, but the Lions offense isn’t showing many signs it can overcome the current deficit.
Jason Hanson hit a 41-yard field goal to cut the Cardinals lead to 24-14 with 4:11 left in the third quarter.
The Lions converted a 3rd and 1 with a 24-yard catch by Calvin Johnson, but after reaching the Arizona 22, their next three plays went for -1 yard.
With that catch, Johnson eclipsed 1,600 receiving yards and became the first player in league history to reach that number in consecutive season.
Johnson has 7 catches for 77 yards and is closing in on his seventh-straight game with 100 receiving yards.
The Lions opened the half with another three-and-out.
And once the Cardinals took the ball back, they added to their lead.
Jay Feely hit a 51-yard field goal to give Arizona a 24-7 lead with 9:19 remaining in the third quarter, and the Cardinals have scored 24 unanswered points.
During the Cardinals’ nine-game losing streak, they haven’t scored 20 points in a single game.
After one half, they already have 21 points and a 21-7 lead over the Lions.
Here are some key halftime stats, though the most important stats are two Lions turnovers that led to touchdown drives of 3 and 5 yards by the Cardinals.
Matthew Stafford: 9 of 22, 85 yards, 2 interceptions
Mikel Leshoure: 8 carries, 35 yards, 1 touchdown
Calvin Johnson 4 catches, 39 yards
Ryan Lindley: 8 of 12, 58 yards, 1 interceptions
Beanie Wells: 10 carries, 24 yards, 2 touchdowns
Michael Floyd: 2 catches, 28 yards
Matthew Stafford appeared to be done with his early struggled, but the Lions have ended their last two drives with an interception.
This time, though, Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson took the pick 53 yards to the house to give Arizona a 21-7 lead.
The Lions ran out the final 30 seconds of the first half and will start with the ball in the third quarter.
A really ugly sequence suddenly has the Lions down 14-7 with 3:16 left in the first half.
On 1st and 15 from the Detroit 2, Matthew Stafford threw to a double-covered Calvin Johnson, and Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson intercepted the pass.
Peterson returned it to the 5, and two plays later, Beanie Wells scored a 1-yard touchdown run.
The ugly play began when Stefan Logan caught a punt inside the 10, and the Lions started at the 7. False starts by Gosder Cherilus and Riley Reiff moved the Lions back to the 2, and then Stafford threw the pick.
The Cardinals ended one bad streak today.
They scored their first touchdown in 11 quarters with a 5-yard run by Beanie Wells.
It was Arizona’s first play after taking over at the Detroit 5 following a muffed punt by Stefan Logan, who couldn’t catch the punt after teammate Pat Lee ran into him.
With 9:18 left in the first half, it’s 7-7.
The Lions forced a third-straight punt by the Cardinals, but Arizona had a big break on the punt.
Lions cornerback Pat Lee ran into return man Stefan Logan, and after the ball bounced off Logan’s hands, the Cardinals recovered at the 5.
The turnover could be the big break the Cardinals need to score their first touchdown in the past three games.
The first quarter was ugly and filled with punts (six total), but the Lions started strong in the second quarter.
Mikel Leshoure scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Lions a 7-0 lead with 12:51 left in the second quarter.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford went 5-for-6 for 55 yards on the drive after starting 0-for-6.
Calvin Johnson had 3 catches for 30 yards, including an 11-yard catch that moved the Lions to the 1. It was the sixth time this season he’s been tackled inside the 2.
The Cardinals take over and will try to answer after having three-and-outs on their last two drives.
It took seven passes for Matthew Stafford to complete a pass against the Cardinals, but the first one was a memorable reception by Calvin Johnson.
His 7-yard catch was his 97th this season, setting a career-high for receptions in a season.
Johnson had a career-high 96 last season, but he appears well on his way to a 100-catch season.
Johnson’s 98th catch was a 12-yarder to convert a third down.
The Lions are driving and are in field-goal range, but after one quarter, it’s 0-0.
Three Lions drives, three three-and-outs.
That’s not a recipe for success.
Neither is an 0-for-6 start for quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Fortunately for the Lions, the Cardinals haven’t had much success after reaching the Detroit 24 on their first drive. Penalties took them out of field-goal range, and their next two drives ended with an interception and a three-and-out.
The Lions forced an early turnover, but couldn’t produce any points.
Linebacker DeAndre Levy caught an interception by Cardinals quarterback Ryan Lindley, who has struggled with turnovers so far in his rookie season.
The Lions started at their own 48, but only gained two yards before having to punt.
Both teams punted on their first drive, too, but the Lions had some bad news early.
Cornerback Jacob Lacey suffered a knee injury tackling Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald on the Cardinals. He was down holding his left knee, and although he was able to walk off on his own power, Lacey is questionable to return.
Lacey’s absence will move veteran Drayton Florence up on the depth chart.
When Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said his offensive line was in a state of flux, he was understating the problem.
Much has been made this week about the Cardinals allowing a league-high 51 sacks, nine more than any other team. With more injuries, though, Arizona will try yet another starting lineup in today’s game against the Lions at University of Phoenix Stadium.
And with the jumbling of linemen in the defensive tackle gap, Ndamukong Suh could have a monster game for the Lions.
Despite being inactive seven weeks and not even on the roster for three weeks, tackle Pat McQuistan will start for the Cardinals — at right guard. Adam Snyder, who’s started 11 games at right guard, will start at center.
Lions offensive tackle Ndamukong Suh’s play has been mostly overlooked recently, but during their current five-game losing streak, he’s often been right in the opposing quarterback’s face. With today’s matchup, he should be able to rush Cardinals rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley into a few poor decisions.
The Lions will be without defensive tackle Nick Fairley (shoulder), but Sammie Hill should be able to create pressure up the middle. If Suh picks up double teams, Hill will have to make Arizona pay because the Lions defense needs to win in the trenches if they hope to win.
Winning in the trenches on offense would also be a big boost for the Lions because the Cardinals have allowed a 100-yard rusher in each of the past three games.
A strong running game would give the Lions much better chances to win because the Cardinals secondary presents a tough matchup without tight end Brandon Pettigrew and Kris Durham again starting at wide receiver.
Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson, who will cover Calvin Johnson much of the game, has an interception in three straight games.
So which 4-9 team will end its long losing streak? We’ll find out shortly.