PHILADELPHIA -- A pass broken up. Another bobbled. A nice open-field tackle by Justin Coleman. An offensive pass interference penalty on Darren Sproles negating a Philadelphia Eagles first down. And then a dropped deep pass that could have given Philadelphia a field goal at worst and a touchdown at best.
How did the Detroit Lions remain undefeated? The usual defensive hold after a blocked field goal and a failed offensive shot. But a 27-24 Lions win over Philadelphia is all that will matter when it comes to the record – and it’s a game that gives the Lions a show of some progress from earlier this month.
Earlier in September, against the Arizona Cardinals, the Lions fell apart, and it led to an eventual tie. On Sunday in Philadelphia, the Lions showed they might have learned from their prior errors. Sunday, they stopped Carson Wentz and Philadelphia twice late to close out a win.
While it might be too early to say Detroit (2-0-1) belongs in the postseason, a win like this certainly shows the Lions are contenders. Philadelphia is a good team -- a playoff participant last season -- and the Lions were able to control much of the game, holding a lead for the majority of the last three quarters.
Teams want to learn as the season goes along and show progress each week. The Lions did that in Philly. They forced two turnovers. For the most part, they were aggressive on offense in critical situations to ice the game -- whether they worked or not. And special teams -- an issue a week ago -- scored a touchdown. This is something to build on for the Lions -- and at this point in the year, that can be taken as a positive more than anything else.
Pivotal play: This wasn’t a game-winning play or one that even happened late in the game, but for the confidence and fortunes of one player, it was incredibly pivotal. Jamal Agnew was benched a week ago. Then, he took his first return Sunday 100 yards for a touchdown -- his first return for a touchdown since 2017. The Lions expressed faith in Agnew by continuing to let him hold on to his kick-return job after two rough weeks filled with bobbled returns and poor decisions. That was paid off Sunday -- and might have just given one of the league’s better returners his mojo back. It showed later in the game on a 24-yard punt return that looked one block from being broken, as well.
QB Breakdown: Another good day from Matthew Stafford. He took advantage of smart play calls from Darrell Bevell and made the right reads, including on a 12-yard touchdown pass to Marvin Jones II that gave the Lions’ a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead. It was a great call and a perfect pass. Stafford finished 18-of-31 for 201 yards and one touchdown.
Troubling trend: Penalties have been an issue for Detroit all season long, and those mistakes kept the Eagles in the game Sunday. The Lions committed four defensive penalties on third downs to extend drives, including a roughing the passer penalty called on Trey Flowers with Philadelphia driving in the fourth quarter (a drive that eventually led to a Nelson Agholor touchdown with 6:59 left that cut Detroit’s lead to 27-24). Flowers should know better than to commit that penalty in a situation in which Detroit was close to icing the game.
Silver lining: After being healthy for the most part the first two weeks, there has to be some concern with two Lions players. Defensive tackle Mike Daniels left with a foot injury and was quickly ruled out. Defensive back Darius Slay (hamstring) limped to the locker room and never returned. Slay's injury is going to be worth monitoring because he is Detroit’s best corner -- and the Lions face Kansas City next week.