Lions jump back from yet another ugly loss to shock the Cardinals


DETROIT – A week ago, the Detroit Lions looked like they had finished their season early.

After avoiding a season without a win by beating the Minnesota Vikings on Dec. 5, the Lions took to Denver and were taken apart in a 38-10 loss. At 1-11-1, they looked like they were a team playing out in the line on yet another failed season.

Apparently not.

The Lions finally played the type of game Coach Dan Campbell had envisioned – hard on both sides of the ball – and shocked the Arizona Cardinals with a 30-12 victory on Sunday.

“That’s what we’ve been trying to build here,” Campbell said. “We knew what we were going to do and we did it in all three phases of the game. We knew we were going to go all-out today because if you play fearfully against the Cardinals, they will separate you.

‘We threw caution to the wind when we knew we could win or we could lose by 50, but that we would play our game.

Jared Goff, who threw three touchdown passes and averaged season-best 8.3 yards per game. trials, understood the extent of the Detroit uprising.

“We do not match that team on paper – not at all,” he said. ‘This season has really tested us – losing as many matches as we did teaches you how hard it is to win – and now we’re coming out and beating without a doubt the best team in the league.

‘You always love football – that’s why you keep going when you lose – but those are the days when it’s fun.’

All coaches and players recognized a turning point in the third quarter – a moment when the Lions showed they would not take another embarrassing chat.

The Cardinals kicked a field goal on the first possession of the second half, reducing Detroit’s lead to 17-3, and on the ensuing drive, runback Godwin Igwebuike lost a fumble near midfield.

The crowd groaned and expected to see Kyler Murray exploit the error and get Arizona within 17-10.

Two plays later, Amani Oruwariye duoed in front of AJ Green to intercept Murray’s pass. As the Cardinals quarterback angrily gestured in Green’s direction, Oruwariye jumped up and returned the ball to Arizona 6.

With the fans now roaring, Goff immediately hit fullback Jason Cabinda for a 6-yard touchdown and a 24-3 lead.

‘We made a mistake and the defense picked us up right away,’ said offensive tackle Taylor Decker. ‘That’s what we’ve been looking for all year – a game where we play offensively and defensively at the same time.’

Cabinda’s touchdown – the first in his NFL career – was especially for his teammates and coaches. As a linebacker at Penn State, his career started as an exhausted free agent with the Raiders. In 2019, he resigned from training camp and joined the Lions.

“He played defensively on the scout team, so I played a lot against him,” Decker said. ‘I hated facing him because he always worked so hard.’

After spending 2019 on special teams, Cabinda started getting some snaps as a blocking back in 2020, ending the season with one carry and one reception. This season, he added tight end to his resume, thrilled his teammates with a 20-yard win at Cleveland, and then snuck out of the backfield to catch Sunday’s touchdown.

“I did not know it was his first touchdown – that explains why I saw Jared grab the ball and give it to him,” Decker said. “He will be happy to have it – when I scored my first touchdown, I went crazy and threw the ball into the stands.”

With the three-touchdown lead, the Lions defense took over and prevented Murray from triggering a comeback.

“We knew we had to beat (Murray) a little bit and stay aggressive, but we had to do it as a team,” Campbell said. ‘If we start going after big games, we lose control of him and he kills us. We did not do that – we bottled him up and stopped them. “

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