With just one more clutch play and one fewer mistake than their opponents, the Detroit Lions prevailed 13-10 against the Chargers to stay semi-undefeated.
Through most of the second half on Sunday, my mind was busy calculating how many points the Los Angeles Chargers were about to have, and what it would take for the Detroit Lions to get back in the game. As the third quarter crawled into the fourth and Los Angeles was still improbably stuck on 10 points, I again and again had to reset the comeback scenarios in my head.
It wasn’t pretty, but after hanging on by a thread for most of the afternoon,you can hardly blame the Lions for hanging around long enough to capitalize on their opponents’ blunders.
A third quarter screen pass to Justin Jackson goes for a touchdown…okay, 17-6, touchdown/2 point/field goal to tie it back up. The play gets called back for holding. Another screen, different running back, another touchdown…okay, now it’s 17-6, get to work Stafford. Called back again. Rinse, wash, repeat.
Another big play, then pass interference in the end zone, Chargers have it at the one, Austin Ekeler starts his leap, the same play he scored on for the first touchdown. Okay, now it’s 17-6, and they really mean it this time.
This is as good a time as any to admit that I may have been wrong about the Jahlani Tavai draft pick. Through two games, he’s been flying around the field, doesn’t miss many tackles, and has shown a knack for making big plays.
At the goal line, Tavai perfectly timed up his jump with Ekeler’s, knocking the ball loose and again keeping the score at 10-6, well within striking distance for Detroit. Somehow, the Chargers still hadn’t scored in the half.
Phillip Rivers would lead the Chargers into scoring range three more times on the afternoon and come up empty on all three. Meanwhile, Matthew Stafford shook off two third quarter interceptions for a perfect strike to Kenny Golladay midway through the final period, now his 34th career game-winning drive.
With just one more clutch pass than his counterpart on the other side, Stafford and the Lions stole a win in the home opener. As far as calming down from the sting of the Week One collapse, this ugly but satisfying win helps immensely.