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The Detroit Lions welcomed the youngest team in the NFL, the St. Louis Rams, to kick off their season at Ford Field.
The opening drive of the game for Detroit started at their own 20 yard-line. Matthew Stafford helped drive the Lions down to the Rams own three yard-line. On first down, Stafford dropped back and was picked off by rookie Janoris Jenkins who returned the interception 34 yards. On the Rams ensuing drive, rookie kicker, Greg Zuerlein, hit a 48 yard field goal to give the Rams an early 3-0 lead. Luckily for the Lions, they answered back quickly with a score of their own, Joique Bell rushed for a one-yard touchdown to regain the lead 7-3.
Unable to respond, the Rams gave the Lions the ball back after a three and out. Similar to their first drive, Stafford dropped back on St. Louis’ 16 yard-line, and was intercepted by Jo-Lonn Dunbar. Once again, the Rams took advantage after forcing a second interception, and kicker Zuerlein hit 29 yard field goal to cut the deficit to 7-6. Stafford jogged back onto the field to help regain the lead for the Lions. On first and 10, running the no huddle offense, Stafford dropped back into Shotgun formation and looked to connect with wideout Calvin Johnson, and again, Stafford was picked off by Rams defensive back Cortland Finnegan who returned it for a touchdown, giving the Rams a 13-7 lead. Before the end of the first half, Lions kicker, Jason Hanson kicked a 42 yard field goal through the uprights to go into the half down 13-10.
In a low scoring third quarter, Hanson tied the game up after hitting a 45 yard field goal. After forcing the Lions to punt, the Rams regained possession at Detroit’s 47 yard-line. Onsecond and nine from Detroit’s 23, in Shotgun, Sam Bradford dropped back and connected with wideout Brandon Gibson for a 23 yard touchdown, sending the Rams back ahead, 20-13.
With 9:45 remaining in the fourth quarter, Stafford did a good job of leading his offense down the field. On the Rams 5 yard line, running back Kevin Smith punched in a five yard touchdown run to tie the game back up. The Rams rookie kicker answered back on the ensuing drive with a 46 yard field goal to regain the lead 23-20 with less than two minutes left.
Starting at their own 20 yard-line, Stafford connected with wideout Calvin Johnson for a 20 yard completion. The quarterback continued to strategically move the ball down field for the Lions. Once again, on second and seven, Stafford connected with Johnson for an 18 yard completion up the middle. Stafford quickly brought the offense to the line to spike the ball and stop the clock. On second and five, Stafford dropped back and found running back Kevin Smith wide open for an easy completion and a 27-23 victory.
Although throwing three first half interceptions, Stafford stayed focused when it mattered most and threw his only touchdown pass to win the game. The Lions will have any even tougher matchup next week on the road against the San Francisco 49ers.
Image Courtesy of Detroit Lions