Detroit Lions Control Pace of Play to Overcome Arizona Cardinals

Detroit Lions Control
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After 30 minutes of play, the Detroit Lions controlled the Arizona Cardinals by a score of 17-0, out-possessing the football a total of 18:52 to 11:08. The Lions managed to control the game thereafter, overcoming a turnover by making a takeaway, and stopping the Cardinals on two of three fourth-down conversion attempts. The Cardinals loss is, naturally, the bigger storyline in the NFL media circus— specifically, a fledgling Sunday from Kyler Murray. The Lions, however, did not squeak by in a game the Cardinals happened to lose. They won the game fighting, controlling, and playing solid football. The match was, finally, a delightful Lions game from beginning to end.

Detroit Lions Control Game in Surprisingly Normal Victory

Three Phases of the Game

Head coach Dan Campbell concluded his team’s performance in the post-game press conference, saying, “We knew what we had to do today and we did it, really in all three phases across the board…” The cliché understatement of winning football, though, has proven rare to come by in Detroit. On the year, the Lions have been a messy team to behold.

The victory over the Minnesota Vikings was a disastrous outing with only two third-down conversions, two fumbles, only 26:56 of ball control, and three sacks allowed. The Lions tie against the Steelers resulted in 229 yards on the ground but a meager 77 yards through the air.

Sunday, on the other hand, was a different win. Jared Goff was remarkably efficient and relaxed, only missing five passes on the day with 10.3 yards per completion. Craig Reynolds, in his first start at running back, marched for 112 yards. Amani Oruwariye grabbed his sixth interception of the season, (third in the NFL), for a 50-yard return. Five seconds later, that return resulted in the Lions only touchdown in the second half. The special teams also finished in fabulously boring fashion, as Riley Patterson netted all three field-goal attempts.

While the Lions have looked messy and confused, the team matched up well Sunday and finished in a style only describable in clichés, which is a pleasant rarity for the Lions. While this iteration of the Lions will step into history books without much remark, Sunday was the win both Goff and Campbell sorely needed.

Detroit Lions Players Control Their Own ‘What-Ifs’

The future the Lions control and own is not spectacular. The bright spot is a possible ticket to drafting Michigan pass-rusher Aidan Hutchison to keep him in one state for high school, college, and professional football. Sunday, however, showed the Lions players control many of the ‘What-ifs’ of their future.

Goff, who has made a career of beating the Arizona Cardinals (now 8-1 all-time), must maintain that poise and efficiency to ensure himself as the future of the Lions. Reynolds is a running back with a new by-line on his resumé, and (with work this off-season) may serve the Lions in a starting capacity moving forward. Oruwariye made a giant leap forward and is playing in a shaky defense trying to identify his future.

The players in Detroit control their future moving forward as far as who is going to be a part of the franchise’s plan is concerned. The season has been hard, and the win against the Cardinals is not going to be much consolation to the staff. That is, unless it begins a streak of a few more wins to close the season. That will have to include several other Lions controlling their future and dominating their respective position.

The NFL is a challenging, grueling sport, and the Lions matched up better than the Cardinals did this week. If Campbell and his staff manage players into the right positions to win, the Lions may come away with an end to a season well worth analyzing in a long off-season— one that will define Campbell’s culture and tenure.

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