For the first time in more than a decade, the Detroit Lions look like a good football team.
It’s only Week One, of course, and it’s too early to conclude that Detroit has finally fielded a winner. But it sure looked that way today in Tampa Bay, as the Lions beat the Buccaneers 27-20.
Tampa Bay jumped ahead early on an Aqib Talib pick-six, but the Lions controlled most of the game after that, and had a two-touchdown lead for most of the second half. It was only in the final two minutes of the game that the Lions began to look like the Lions of old, giving up a touchdown and committing a costly personal foul penalty to give the Buccaneers new life.
Tampa Bay still had a chance on the game’s final play, which featured a wild series of laterals: Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman completed a short pass to Earnest Graham, who lateraled to offensive lineman Donald Penn, who lateraled back to Freeman, who batted the ball back to Graham, who lateraled to Kellen Winslow, who lateraled to Preston Parker. Parker finally fumbled his own lateral attempt, and Louis Delmas recovered to end the game and give the Lions their win.
That silliness aside, the Lions’ defense played well, although not in the way you might expect: The Buccaneers’ offensive line actually did a pretty good job neutralizing Ndamukong Suh, and it was linebacker Stephen Tulloch who was flying all over the field, delivering hard hits and leading the defensive effort for Detroit.
The other story of the game was Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who completed 24 of 33 passes for 305 yards and three touchdowns. If Stafford can stay healthy and keep playing like that, the Lions are going to be a tough team to beat. We haven’t been able to say that in a long time.