Defense, Golladay star as Lions surge past Cardinals

Al Michaels participates in the

The Detroit Lions' (1-0) defense led the way in their season opening win on Sunday, 35-17 over the visiting Arizona Cardinals (0-1). Recently made the highest paid player in National Football League history after signing a massive six-year, $135 million contract late last month, the 29-year old passer responded with a MVP-like outing against Arizona.

Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions throws a pass in the first half in the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Ford Field on Sunday in Detroit. His favorite target? Rookie wide receiver Kenny Golladay, who caught four of Stafford's passes for 69 yards and two second-half scores. The Lions were in scoring range, so the swing in momentum here was huge.

It wasn't all good news for Detroit, as their ground game struggled against the Cardinals stout front seven.

Ameer Abdullah was supposed to be the next great Lions running back. They allowed the second fewest total yards (4883), allowed just 210 passing yards a game and recorded 48 sacks (most in NFL). This is an area the Lions' must improve on moving forward. The second fumble was the play of the game, as it jump-started the Lions' rally (the Cardinals led 17-9 at the time) and caused Johnson to leave the game with a wrist injury. On the very next play from scrimmage, Miles Killebrew intercepted Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown to put the Lions up by 18 with 4:13 left in the game.

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The defense got the ball back in short order, thanks to a third-down sack by Zettel, and the offense was able to sustain its momentum, thanks in large part to receiver TJ Jones, who made a pair of hard grabs, including a third-down conversion on a ball behind him. Killebrew scored a defensive touchdown on his interception.

Our models rank Jones as the 49th-best receiver in Week 1 with 3.6 receptions, 47.2 yards and 0.2 touchdowns. First-round rookie linebacker Jarrad Davis led the team with nine tackles in his debut.

Cardinals: Play at Indianapolis on September 17.

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