Strong defensive effort carries Detroit Lions to 1st win by beating New England
By BOB DUFF
ALLEN PARK — A day after their first win of the season, the change in the mood of the previously winless Detroit Lions was evident.
In one corner of the locker room, linebacker Marquis Flowers and running back LeGarrette Blount engaged in a heated debate over whether Kobe Bryant or LeBron James was the greater basketball player.
“Just coming in today, it was a little bit different,” Lions wide receiver Golden Tate said. “It’s kind of a sigh of relief.”
Winning has a way of lifting the tension. Especially considering the quality of the opponent that the Lions beat.
Sunday’s decisive 26-10 victory over the New England Patriots was fashioned by a smothering performance from the Lions defense.
The Lions held the Patriots to 209 yards, the fewest they’ve allowed since holding the New York Giants to 197 yards on Sept. 8, 2014.
“To finally get our first win, against a team like that, that’s a yearly contender for the Super Bowl, it’s a pretty big deal,” Tate said.
It was only the third time since 2007 that the Patriots produced fewer than 210 yards.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who led the NFL with 4,577 yards passing last season, was limited to 133 yards.
“That is amazing,” Lions cornerback Darius Slay said. “That is really amazing.”
In the first quarter, Detroit held a 126-5 edge in yards and a 12:30-2:30 advantage in time of possession. The first three drives of the game saw Detroit outgain the Patriots 196-13 and hold a 14-0 edge in first downs. The Lions outgained the Patriots 231-70 in the first half.
“We couldn’t execute anything,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.
Lions running back Kerryon Johnson, who finished with 16 carries for 101 yards and became the first Lions running back to record a 100-yard rushing game since Reggie Bush against Green Bay on Nov. 28, 2013, felt the defensive performance was what keyed the win.
“I think the defense was a lot more impressive than we were,” Johnson said. “They had to shut down Tom Brady.”