After a dubious start to his head coaching career that saw the Detroit Lions finish in last place in the NFC North in 2018, Matt Patricia looked to be off to a good start this season with a big, late lead Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
Then the Lions did what the Lions tend to do.
Detroit collapsed in the late stages of regulation, allowing the Cardinals, led by rookie head coach Kliff Kingsbury and rookie quarterback Kyler Murray, to score 18 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. Both teams would go on to kick field goals in overtime of what ended in a 27-27 tie, and a colossal disappointment for Lions fans.
All downhill after taking 18-point lead
Detroit controlled most of the game and took a 24-6 lead with 14:47 remaining on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford to rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson.
Murray started to heat up after struggling for much of his NFL debut and led the Cardinals on unanswered field goal and touchdown drives to cut Detroit’s lead to 24-16 with 5:57 remaining.
A slew of mistakes by the Lions then made overtime possible.
Detroit looked ready to fend off the rally on its next possession, driving the ball downfield and forcing Arizona to call all three of its timeouts.
Matthew Stafford appeared to throw for a first down with 2:47 remaining. But offensive coordinator Darrell Bevel had inexplicably called a timeout before the pass, negating what would have all but sealed the victory for Detroit.
On the ensuing third and five, Stafford stopped the clock again with an incomplete pass that forced the Lions to punt with 2:42 remaining.
Sam Martin’s punt was tipped and traveled just 11 yards, setting the Cardinals up with the ball at their own 40-yard line with 2:31 left.
The Murray that had looked much like a rookie for most of the game channeled the Heisman Trophy version of himself with a touchdown drive that included a 10-yard scramble and culminated in a four-yard touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald and a two-point conversion pass to Christian Kirk.
Neither team was sharp in overtime as they traded field goals and made blunders down the stretch.
But that’s the kind of thing to be expected from a rookie head coach and quarterback.
For Patricia, a veteran of NFL sidelines who is already on thin ice in his sophomore effort with the Lions, pulling a tie out of what looked like a guaranteed victory at Arizona is not a great look.
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