Unbelievable! Detroit Lions stunned by Cardinals' Kyler-Murray-led rally, tie at 27

Dave Birkett
Detroit Free Press
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GLENDALE, Arizona — A year after they had one of the lousiest opening-game performances in franchise history, the Detroit Lions suffered an even worse fate.

The Lions blew an 18-point fourth quarter lead Sunday, then salvaged a tie that felt like a loss, 27-27, in overtime against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium.

"I know it's not a loss, but I'm pissed," linebacker Devon Kennard said. "I feel like we let that one get away from us and it's frustrating as heck. I feel like we played really good ball defensively and didn't finish for a complete game and that's so frustrating."

The Lions dominated play for most of the game, holding a Cardinals team that won three games a season ago to two field goals through the first three quarters — one of them after Jamal Agnew fumbled a punt at his own 8-yard line.

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But Kyler Murray, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft, led a stunning comeback with two fourth-quarter touchdowns passes and a 65-yard field-goal drive on the first possession of overtime.

The Lions tied the game with their own overtime field-goal drive, then failed to move the ball on their last desperation possession, when Tramaine Brock dropped the potential game-winning interception with 5 seconds to play.

"For us just too many mistakes, bad execution and bad coaching," Lions coach Matt Patricia said. "We just got to be able to finish it off."

Murray’s heroics were enough to overshadow the excellent performance the Lions got from their own first-round pick, tight end T.J. Hockenson, and cast a pall over the start of the Lions’ season for a second straight year.

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Kyler Murray tries to elude Lions defensive lineman Mike Daniels during the first half Sunday.

Last year, the Lions opened the season with a crushing 48-17 loss to the New York Jets. Stafford threw four interceptions in that game and the Lions went on to finish the season 6-10.

On Sunday, the Lions played three good quarters of football and led 24-6 after Hockenson’s 23-yard touchdown catch on the second play of the fourth quarter.

Arizona scored the next 21 points, with Murray leading a 10-play field-goal drive on the Cardinals’ opening possession of the fourth quarter, then throwing touchdown passes to David Johnson (27 yards) and Larry Fitzgerald (4 yards).

The Lions had a chance to seal the game before Murray’s last touchdown, but called a timeout seconds before Frank Ragnow snapped the ball and Stafford threw complete for a would-be first down to J.D. McKissic.

Patricia said he ordered the timeout because he saw the play clock winding down.

"Call it 0 (seconds), call it 1, wherever it was in that situation, you'd rather be in third-and-5 than third-and-10 in that got-to-have-it situation," Patricia said. "We just got to go out and execute. It doesn't matter at that point. It's a play where we've got to go finish no matter what happens. That's where we were."

Stafford threw incomplete after the timeout, and Dennis Gardeck deflected the ensuing Sam Martin punt to give the Cardinals the ball at their own 40-yard line. Murray completed a 19-yard crossing route to Damiere Byrd on third-and-7 to keep the drive alive, then ran for 9 yards two plays later on a zone-read.

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The Cardinals converted on third-and-1, and after Trey Flowers was called for a defensive facemask, Murray hit Fitzgerald for a 4-yard touchdown one play later. The Cardinals tied the game at 24 on a two-point conversion pass from Murray to Christian Kirk.

Murray finished 29-of-54 passing for 308 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He had 154 yards passing in the fourth quarter.

• Box score

Stafford completed 27 of 45 passes for 385 yards and three touchdowns for the Lions, who tied for the first time since 1984.

Hockenson, the No. 8 pick of the draft, had six catches for 131 yards and a touchdown in his record-setting NFL debut.

He had the most receiving yards ever by a tight end in his first NFL game, and finished with the fourth-best receiving performance by a tight end in Lions history.

Hockenson had four catches of 20-plus yards, including a 39-yard grab in the second quarter that highlighted a 95-yard scoring drive.

The Lions host the Los Angeles Chargers next Sunday at Ford Field (1 p.m., CBS). L.A. held off Indianapolis in overtime, 30-24.

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Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. Read more on the Detroit Lions and sign up for our Lions newsletter.

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