The Patriots are 6.5-point road favorites as they face off against former defensive coordinator and new Lions head coach Matt Patricia. Can the Patriots overcome Patricia’s insight into the team? Or will New England drop to 1-2 for the first time since 2012- the only time they’ve had a losing record through three games with Tom Brady as the starter?
Date: Sunday, September 23, 2018
Kickoff: 8:20 p.m. ET
Location: Ford Field, Detroit MI
SB Nation affiliate: Pride of Detroit
TV: NBC, with Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (color commentary), and Michele Tafoya (sideline reporter)
Patriots offensive starters:
Patriots offensive starters:— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) September 24, 2018
LT: Trent Brown
LG: Joe Thuney
C: David Andrews
RG: Shaq Mason
RT: Marcus Cannon
TE: Rob Gronkowski
QB: Tom Brady
FB: James Develin
RB: Sony Michel
WR: Chris Hogan
WR: Phillip Dorsett
New England went 3-and-out to start the game after an errant pass from Tom Brady to Chris Hogan.
Patriots defensive starters:
Defensive starters for Patriots:— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) September 24, 2018
DE: Adrian Clayborn
DT: Malcom Brown
DT: Lawrence Guy
DE/OLB: Kyle Van Noy
LB: Dont'a Hightower
LB: Elandon Roberts
LB: Ja'Whaun Bentley
CB: Stephon Gilmore
CB: Jason McCourty
S: Devin McCourty
S: Duron Harmon
The New England defense looked awful against the Lions offense, but a great open field tackle by Jason McCourty set up a third-and-long and the Lions were inches short of a first down on their next play. Detroit opted to take the points and kicked a field goal for a 3-0 lead.
Tom Brady and company went 3-and-out on their next drive, with Brady dumping off a pass to Sony Michel for negative yards, Phillip Dorsett dropping the next target, and Brady overthrowing Dorsett- with Dorsett having a small chance of bringing it down. Ryan Allen had an awful 36-yard punt to set the Lions up on their own 40-yard line.
The Lions waltzed down the field with the entire Patriots defense looking awful. New England can’t stop the run or the pass, with Jason McCourty the only defender that is able to make a play. Detroit keeps running in routes and crossing patterns to shake the New England zone coverage and the Patriots don’t have a response.
Detroit had no problems finishing off the drive with yet another Matt Stafford pass to crossing pattern, this time to Kenny Golladay in front of Stephon Gilmore, as the Lions scored a touchdown and took a 10-0 lead. Stafford is 10 of 11 on the day for 88 yards and a touchdown, with the only completion coming after Jonathan Jones punched the ball out after Golden Tate was coming down with the pass. Brady is 1 of 4 for -1 yards. That kind of start to the day.
The Patriots went 3-and-out. Again. Sony Michel has 1 yard on 2 carries, while Brady found Rex Burkhead for a 7-yard pass. New England has 13 yards on three drives, with Michel having 6 yards on 5 touches. Burkhead’s reception makes up the other yards. Brady is 0-3 when throwing to Dorsett and Hogan. This is U-G-L-Y.
New England replaced Jason McCourty with rookie J.C. Jackson to try and get a different result on defense (although Jason was one of two players, along with Jonathan Jones, to actually play well). The Lions targeted Keion Crossen on third down and converted, and then Jackson was flagged for a holding call on the next play, followed by a 12-man-on-the-field penalty. The Lions once again got into the red zone, but a 2-yard run by LeGarrette Blount and two incompletions forced Detroit to settle for a field goal and a 13-0 lead. The Lions have more first downs than the Patriots have yards.
It’s pretty clear that the Lions are following the same game plan that the Jacksonville Jaguars used last week and the Philadelphia Eagles did in the Super Bowl- run the ball against a terrible run defense, and attack the linebackers in coverage of the running backs, and run crossers and in-route patterns because passing plays can develop since the New England pass rush won’t get home.
Brady found Rob Gronkowski for a 9-yard gain to kick off the next drive and Michel picked up the rest of the needed yards to get the team’s first first down of the day. Brady found Gronk for 15 more yards to get into Lions territory. Rex Burkhead picked up 19 yards and then Sony Michel gained enough yards to get in the red zone and set up a 3rd-and-1, but a huge stop by the Detroit defense knocked Michel back 2 yards and the Patriots had to settle for a field goal and a 13-3 deficit.
Detroit got the ball with 2 time outs and 40 seconds left on the clock and decided to try and get some points before the half. The Lions got to midfield with 11 seconds left on the clock, but Jonathan Jones made a pair of openfield tackles to drain out the rest of the time.
The Lions get the ball after the half. There’s a whole lot of football left, especially if the Patriots can keep Gronkowski involved in the second half.
There’s life! Ja’Whaun Bentley undercut a pass up the seam and intercepted the pass to set up Tom Brady and company at midfield. Brady, Gronkowski, and Michel marched their way to the red zone and Brady found James White for a 10-yard touchdown pass and a 13-10 deficit. Whole lot of football left to play.
The New England defense forced the Lions to convert three third downs before Stafford found Marvin Jones for a 33-yard touchdown and a 20-10 lead. There was a miscommunication between Stephon Gilmore and Duron Harmon, as Harmon was supposed to take Jones in coverage, but did not. Gilmore had to play catch up and Jones was open for the score. Gilmore was in coverage for both of the Lions touchdowns.
The Patriots quickly punted the ball back to the Lions after an ugly drop from Sony Michel and a desperation heave from Brady to Gronkowski in double coverage. It’s a clear sign of Brady’s frustration when he attempts these throws to his favorite targets. There’s a lot of football left, but this could be over if Brady’s already in his head. He can’t wait until Julian Edelman returns.
The Lions gained 43 yards on three plays as they’re driving to extend their lead.
LeGarrette Blount gained 13 yards to get into the red zone, but Elandon Roberts made an open field tackle for a 5-yard loss, Stafford threw the ball away in the face of pressure from Deatrich Wise, and the Patriots held the Lions to a field goal and a 23-10 lead. New England has to play a perfect game for the rest of the night if they’re going to win this.
Aaaaaaand Brady gets flagged for intentional grounding on the very first play of this drive. The Lions recorded a coverage sack that honestly took over five seconds. The Patriots are #NotGood on both sides of the ball.
The Patriots forced their first punt of the night (!!) with a little more than 9 minutes left in the game and Cyrus Jones was the returnman. Michele Tafoya reported that Rex Burkhead is out with a neck injury, which explains why Michel has been the workhorse. Brady threw a stupid interception to a double-covered Phillip Dorsett and Darius Slay came down with the ball. This is over.
The Patriots forced a punt as the Lions were simply trying to run down the clock. Tom Brady and company went for it on 4th-and-12 from their own 13-yard line with 3:22 left in the game. Brady chucked a prayer up to Dorsett that was no where close to the target. Dorsett was injured on the play. Vomit.
The Lions kicked a field goal to take a 26-10 lead.
The Patriots are 1-2 for the first time since 2012 and the second time since 2001. This was a terrible game. The Patriots are not a good team in their current state and it goes beyond the injuries to Patrick Chung and Trey Flowers and the suspension of Julian Edelman. Bill Belichick and company need to do some soul searching.