Brady and Patriots crash to back-to-back defeats
The stuttering New England Patriots were stunned and left licking their wounds for a second successive week after losing 26-10 to the Detroit Lions.
After going down to the Jacksonville Jaguars in week two of the NFL, New England's flaws were exposed again on Sunday, including the lack of targets for veteran star quarterback Tom Brady.
Meanwhile, Detroit took one of their weakest areas and turned it into a reason to celebrate.
It was the first victory for the Lions, pushing them to 1-2 — a record the Patriots mirror.
An uncharacteristic outing for the Patriots … or is there a problem?
New England were a shadow of themselves. The Patriots were missing something, anything, and never found it.
Brady, who has been needing playmakers down the field, was without the newest addition to the Patriots' roster, Josh Gordon, and their lack of a deep threat showed as New England had their fewest first-half yards (70) since December 2014.
The offense that has dumped points on their opponents in recent years was shut out in both the first and fourth quarter.
The Patriots went three-and-out on three possessions until late in the second quarter when they netted their first points with a 36-yard field goal. Brady had a dismal performance, finishing with just 14-of-26 passing for only 133 yards and a single touchdown. His longest pass of the game: a 19-yard connection to tight end Rob Gronkowski.
They tried to make up for it on the ground, but rookie Sony Michel and company could not hit their stride either — something the Lions did not have a problem with, surprisingly.
It would be easy to write this game off as just a bad day for the Patriots, except they lost 31-20 to the Jaguars last week, making this the first time since December 2002 New England have suffered consecutive double-digit losses. That is cause for concern among Patriots fans, but maybe the addition of Gordon will help open up the offense.
The Lions ran, and ran well
Detroit improved one of their weakest components: the run game.
For the first time since their 'Thanksgiving Day' game in 2013, the Lions had a 100-yard rusher. Kerryon Johnson opened up the game for Detroit, who have not been able to get things going on the ground. Johnson rushed for 101 yards on 16 carries.
His efforts ended a 70-game drought without a 100-yard rusher, the longest by any team since the 1970 NFL/AFL merger.
Johnson's effectiveness — along with a little help from LeGarrette Blount (16 carries for 48 yards) — helped quarterback Matthew Stafford settle down and overcome third-quarter woes that have plagued the team the past two weeks.
Detroit made it through their roughest quarter
Entering Sunday night, the Lions had given up the most third-quarter points throughout the entire league.
They would need to hold off a newly tweaked Patriots squad that many thought would come out of half-time with some adjustments. However, New England put only seven points on the board in the third quarter and were again shut out in the fourth.
Lions head coach Matt Patricia – the former defensive co-ordinator in New England now in his first year at the helm in Detroit – seemed to have all the answers for Patriots counterpart Bill Belichick's game plan in their first meeting on opposite sidelines. It was just what the struggling Lions needed after back-to-back losses.