Detroit Lions: How did they beat the New England Patriots?

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Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions and Matt Patricia got their first win of the season on Sunday, defeating the mighty New England Patriots. After a slow start, how did they accomplish such a feat?

After a 0-2 start to the season, the Detroit Lions flipped the script on Sunday night with a decisive 26-10 victory against the New England Patriots.

It was an improbable accomplishment that made little sense. The Lions had no business being on the same field with the Patriots, given their lackluster performance through the first two weeks of the season.

Staring down the barrel of 0-3 in a prime time match-up against Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn’s former employer, the Lions actually looked like a real football team from start to finish. Unlike in most games, where the Lions build up hopes only to crumble in the most unconventional and excruciating ways, the team remained in control and avoided their trademark catastrophe.

For once, the Lions managed to stay out of their own way, and it may have saved their season.

The last time the Lions defeated an opponent in this unexpected fashion was at Lambeau Field in 2015. Entering the game with a 1-7 record and 24 consecutive losses in Green Bay, the Lions defeated the Packers 18-16.

Let’s look at the anatomy of the win:

Ball Control

The recipe to defeat the greats like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady is keeping them off the field for as long as possible. The strategy makes perfect sense. Executing it, however, is an extremely difficult task.

The Lions executed the game plan to perfection Sunday night. The Patriots possessed the ball for just 20 minutes, while the Lions nearly doubled that.

A stout running attack, the likes of which the Lions have not displayed in years, kept the team in favorable down-and-distances all night. It allowed the Patriots’ defense to remain on the field for nearly 40 minutes and wore them down just enough to execute big plays when the opportunities availed themselves.

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