Lions take down Colts in thrilling 39-35 shootout


The Lions started the season with a huge win over the Indianapolis Colts, 39-35, as Andrew Luck and Matt Stafford combined for 725 yards and 7 touchdowns.

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12)in the fourth quarter. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports /

Matt Prater kicked a game-winning field goal in one of the most exciting, back-and-forth games you will ever see. Detroit started off great. They got up to a 21-3 lead but gave up a late TD in the 1st half to keep the Colts in the game. In the 1st half, the Lions played complementary football, looking dominant early on defense. However, they completely fell off in the second half and became incapable of slowing Andrew Luck. This was a true passing duel between two of the best, younger quarterbacks in the league. It lived up to the hype and neither QB disappointed. The Lions went from a double-digit lead in the fourth-quarter, to a sure loss, only to have Stafford drive them down for another, brilliant game-winning drive. So, let’s go back and re-examine this barnburner.

1st Quarter

Detroit played good defense – despite giving up a few completions – to force a Colts punt to start the game. The offense then came out on fire, driving right down for a touchdown on a 21-yard Theo Riddick run. Stafford spread the ball around, but Tate looked to be his early favorite WR. Abdullah and Riddick were quite formidable early in this game. DeAndre Levy and Darius Slay each made nice plays to force a second Colts punt. Tahir Whitehead was really impressive in coverage playing back there next to Levy. Complementary football so far.

2nd Quarter

Marvin Jones had a nice 27-yard grab for a first early in the second-quarter to get the Lions into Colts’ territory. Boldin and Ebron each had 3rd-down conversions. Riddick had that same over-the-middle route for a near TD catch. They pounded the ball with Dwayne Washington two straight times until he got it in to make it 14-0, Detroit. Kerry Hyder had an impressive sack on Luck, forcing a 2nd and 21, then hitting Luck on the very next play.  Detroit gave up a field goal and then got the ball back with about 5 minutes left in the half. Abdullah had a few explosive runs, setting up a 32-yard bomb to Marvin Jones. They got in close and Stafford hit Ebron for a short touchdown pass. Luck came out firing under two-minutes left in the half. Donte Moncrief caught a touchdown pass with 5 seconds left in the back of the end zone to cut the lead to 21-10.

3rd Quarter

Detroit had a quick 3-and-out to start the 2nd half. Indy’s Phillip Dorsett had a big grab down the right sideline to beat Darius Slay on the next Colts drive. Luck found Dwayne Allen for a wide open out-and-up route for his 2nd touchdown pass of the game. They went for two and got it on a play-action fake to Allen, making it 21-18, Lions. On the Lions’ next drive, they just got decimated on the offensive line. Two big tackles for loss, including a sack on Stafford, where Laken Tomlinson and Taylor Decker both got schooled. It really started to sway heavily towards the Colts to begin the second half, giving them the ball back down just three points. The Lions responded loudly with a balanced, efficient drive that culminated in an Ameer Abdullah touchdown catch and run.  The Colts got the ball with 2:20 left in the 3rd.

4th Quarter

Wow! The Lions began the 4th on defense, up 10 points on the Colts. A DeAndre Levy taunting penalty kept the Colts’ drive going but they were able to still hold Indy to just a field goal. Stafford and the offense stalled on the next drive but Sam Martin booted a nice punt inside the 10-yard line. Sure enough, Luck drove them 94-yards with relative ease and hit his tight end, Doyle, on a wide-open corner route to tie the game at 28. Stafford drove the offense right back down and hit Riddick again for another touchdown pass. But Matt Prater missed the extra point, in true Lions fashion. Luck easily took his team back to the red-zone and hit Doyle again, giving the Colts a one-point lead with 37 seconds left.

Coach Caldwell still had all three timeouts (which Detroit would need after guys failed to get out of bounds). Matthew Stafford, showing great leadership, had yet another answer, hitting Riddick, Tate, Ebron and Marvin Jones to set up a 43-yard kick from Prater with 8 seconds left. The Lions would hold on, despite a wacky last play. It was a great redemption kick by Prater, as well as a statement game from Stafford and the Calvin Johnson-less Lions. The defense played terribly, but the Lions won by a final score of 39-35.

3 Stars of the Game

Theo Riddick had a huge game against the Colts. Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports /

3. Theo Riddicka

Riddick made it on here, despite missing a good chunk of the game with a possible head injury. Still, he was explosive in the beginning and crucial on the final few drives. He finished with 45 rushing yards and a TD, plus, 5 catches for 63 receiving yards, and a receiving touchdown. Riddick earned his new extension and then some in the opener.

2. Andrew Luck

Luck played a near-perfect game and like Stafford, led what seemed to be the game-winning drive. Without much defense being played, this game was a case of whoever has the ball last wins. At times, it was reminiscent of a Madden video game. Luck finished 31-47, for 385 yards, and 4 touchdowns. He put up huge numbers and finished with zero turnovers. Luck played well enough to win this game, but the defense let the team down. He certainly looks worthy of that contract worth a reported $87-million. Especially with the Colts asking him to do basically everything for his team to even have a chance.

 1. Matt Stafford

Stafford finished passing 31-39, for 340 yards and 3 touchdowns. His final quarterback rating was 128.6. He led what looked to be a game-winning drive, only to have Prater miss the extra point and then be asked to lead the Lions down 1 with 37 seconds left. He just looked outstanding start to finish, spreading the ball to 8 wide receivers.  Zero turnovers, despite nearly forty throws and having to outduel one of best young quarterbacks in the game. He definitely earned some respect from Lions fans with a big road win and yet another game-winning drive.