Detroit Lions fans are waking up on Monday with a familiar taste of disappointment hangover.
The Lions did it again on Sunday -- making a tie feel worse than a loss. The team blew a 24-6 lead to a rookie quarterback in Arizona, a game that ended in a 27-27 tie.
The Lions looked like a really good football team for the first three and a half quarters of the game, holding the Cardinals to field goals while the offense put together productive scoring drives.
The tie hurts, there's no doubt about that. But it's only Week 1, and there were still some things to celebrate for Lions fans.
While fans and media speculated about Matthew Stafford all offseason and preseason, the 11th year quarterback quickly quieted the noise and had one of his best games in recent years.
Danny Amendola with a 47-yard touchdown from Matthew Stafford.— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 8, 2019
He was WIDE open.pic.twitter.com/YORL0BszYs
Stafford ended with 385 yards passing, three touchdowns and a 110.0 rating. He had command of the offense, made quick play changes at the line and had great decision-making with the ball.
For all that happened on Sunday in Arizona, Stafford was far from the problem. He's good to go.
Much was made about the Lions selecting a tight end in the first round of the draft last year, but Hockenson proved it was the right move. (For the record, we liked the pick)
Hockenson burst onto the NFL scene on Sunday with a historic debut, racking up 124 yards and a touchdown in his debut, making it the best debut for a tight end in NFL history.
A lot of people are saying T.J. Hockenson is the best TE in the NFL pic.twitter.com/KWTuSFAUHB— Isaac (@WorldofIsaac) September 8, 2019
Hockenson is also the first Lions tight end to have more than 100 yards receiving since 2012. He and Stafford will continue to build.
While the Lions didn't have a prolific game on the ground, the team had 116 yards total between four rushers (Johnson, Anderson, T. Johnson and Stafford). Kerryon Johnson led the team with 49 yards on 16 carries.
Most noticeably, the Lions had big chunks on the ground, keeping the ball moving on first and second down. The team did struggle a bit on third and short plays on the ground. But the rushing game was a factor in the game -- and we haven't always been able to say that.
For most of the game, the Lions defense was spectacular. The team had five sacks in the game, one interception and 11 pass deflections, including several at the line.
Up until the fourth quarter collapse, the Lions secondary held Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk in check with clean defensive play.
Ultimately, it doesn't matter how well you play in the first three quarters if you don't win the game, but it's worth noting, considering the massive investment made in Detroit's defense this offseason.
Lions DT Damon Harrison told fans on Twitter that the loss was on him.
This ones on me...I got dominated today. Hats off to the Cardinals. 100% on me— Damon Harrison Sr. (@snacks) September 9, 2019
The Lions had a strong game on special teams on both ends of the ball. The team covered punts and kickoffs well and didn't allow Arizona to break any big returns.
Lions kicker Matt Prater hit both field goals and three extra points, including the game tying score in overtime.
In Prater we trust.
The Lions will return home to take on the Los Angeles Chargers (1-0), who just beat the Andrew Luck-less Colts, 30-24.