Lions shock Super Bowl-champion Chiefs in sloppy NFL season opener
It was a sloppy season opener for the NFL on Thursday night, but the Detroit Lions used a second-half surge to take down the Kansas City Chiefs, 21-20, to kick off the new year.
Patrick Mahomes clearly missed his star tight end Travis Kelce, who suffered a bone bruise at practice on Tuesday and couldn’t play. There were drops all over the field in both halves for the Chiefs, and the Lions ended up taking advantage.
First, Detroit made things interesting in the fourth quarter when quarterback Jared Goff took a shot downfield to Josh Reynolds and connected for 33 yards to set up a red-zone opportunity down by six points, 20-14.
Two plays later, David Montgomery rushed it into the end zone from eight yards out for his first touchdown in a Lions uniform, giving the team a one point lead at 21-20.
Detroit’s defense, which was vastly improved this offseason, showcased its ability to get big stops after taking the lead. They halted the Chiefs on the next drive on third-and-1, forcing a punt.
Then, despite head coach Dan Campbell surprisingly going for it on the ensuing drive and not picking up a first down, the defense stepped up again to essentially cap their win.
Normally, Mahomes with over two minutes to play in the fourth quarter and down one point is a victory for the Chiefs. But his supporting cast didn’t help him at all.
The most disastrous drive of the night started with another Kadarius Toney drop – he missed two others earlier in the game, one resulting in a Brian Branch pick-six in the first half. A holding and false start followed by more dros ended a drive where the Lions took over on downs.
They picked up the first down needed to kill the clock, and Goff kneeled it out to win the first game of the season.
Goff finished the game 22-of-35 for 253 yards with one touchdown pass.
It was the second drive of the Lions’ new season that resulted in the NFL’s first touchdown of the year. Starting from their nine-yard line, Goff and the Lions charged down the field in 14 plays, capping it off with an Amon-Ra St. Brown nine-yard catch-and-run into the end zone.
But Mahomes and the Chiefs quickly responded with a lengthy drive of their own. Mahomes used his legs and his rocket for an arm to go 75 yards that resulted in Rashee Rice’s first career touchdown and Kansas City’s first of the season. Rice was a second-round pick by the Chiefs out of SMU this year.
It looked like the Lions were going to take their lead back in the second quarter, but we got our first turnover of the year when Marvin Jones Jr. fumbled on a Trent McDuffie hit on the Chiefs’ 14-yard line, killing a great drive.
Mahomes had a chance to work his two-minute magic at the end of the first half, and he did so by firing a 34-yard pass deep down the middle of the field to Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who was immediately hit but hung on to the ball to keep the drive going on third-and-17.
Mahomes would sling a sidearm pass to one of his tight ends filling in for the injured Kelce, Blake Bell, for a four-yard touchdown to take a 14-7 lead.
The Chiefs looked to have the momentum they wanted to begin the second half when they forced a three-and-out on the Lions’ first drive. But Toney had a Mahomes pass go through his hands, and Branch snatched it out of the air with one hand.
He didn’t just get the first interception of his career – he brought it to the house for a pick-six. That’s what you want to do in your first NFL game.
For the Lions, Montgomery finished with 74 yards on 21 carries. Rookie Jahmyr Gibbs also showed off his speed and agility with 42 rushing yards and 18 receiving yards.
St. Brown led the Lions with six catches and 71 yards, while Reynolds finished with 80 yards.
Mahomes went 21-of-39 for 226 yards and two passing touchdowns with his one interception.