Through the first 25 minutes of play, the Lions were dominant. They had outgained New England in yards from scrimmage, 196-13, held onto the ball for 20:46 compared to 4:16 for the Patriots and forced three Patriots three and outs.
But they only held a 13-0 lead, and it didn’t feel like enough. They settled for field goals on a pair of drives after dominating the ball and the clock, the perfect formula for losing to New England.
Matt Patricia earns first win against his mentor
But the rally that football fans have come to expect in these situations never happened as the Lions dominated the football and the clock for a 26-10 win. It was the first win for the Lions under Matt Patricia, and it came against his mentor, Bell Belichick.
Patricia spent 14 years as a Patriots assistant, including the last six years as Belichick’s defensive coordinator.
Patriots’ spark fizzles out
When Tom Brady took the ball near the end of the half and set up a Stephen Gostkowski field goal to get New England on the board, it felt like a rally was beginning.
Then rookie linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley intercepted Matt Stafford on the first possession of the second half, setting up a quick Patriots drive that ended with a Brady touchdown pass to James White to close the gap to 13-10.
But the Lions answered, thwarting New England’s momentum with a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that ground 6:18 off the clock to take a 20-10 lead and defined the matchup. It was a physical tone that set the stage for the rest of the game.
Lions dominate line of scrimmage, clock
In the end, Detroit’s ball-dominance was the key as Brady and the Patriots offense spent most of the game watching from the sideline. While New England’s offensive deficiencies were on display in a Week 2 loss against the Jacksonville Jaguars, its defense couldn’t get off the field against the Lions and their bullying offensive line.
Detroit held onto the ball for 39:15 of the game’s 60 minutes, outgaining the Patriots on offense 414 yards to 209. Much of that production came via the run game and rookie running back Kerryon Johnson, who logged the Lions’ first 100-yard rushing performance since 2013.
Patriots offense to blame, too
That’s not to let the Patriots offense off the hook. Detroit held New England to three-and-outs on their first three possessions, highlighting New England’s lack of big-play ability that prompted them to trade for Josh Gordon, who was inactive for Sunday’s game.
When New England had chances in the fourth quarter, Detroit’s secondary didn’t give Brady anywhere to throw the ball. When he wasn’t under pressure, Brady couldn’t find an open receiver. By the time Darius Slay picked him off on a deep ball late in the fourth, the game was over.
It was a dominant performance on both sides of the ball for the Lions and a massive first win for their rookie head coach.
For the Patriots, who drop to 1-2, it marks the first time they’ve lost back-to-back games since 2015. Up next, they face the 3-0 AFC East leading Miami Dolphins.
To turn things around, they have some significant holes on both sides of the ball that won’t be solved by the arrival of Gordon and the eventual return of Julian Edelman.
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