DETROIT – The Detroit Lions picked up their first win thanks to their best defensive performance of the year. The Lions forced three turnovers and held a high-powered Cardinals offense down. Even better, the Lions made their big plays in different ways. This was an encouraging showing from the defense after two tough games for them to start the year.
Here are the three different ways the Lions picked off Kyler Murray.
Pressuring the QB
This interception comes on Arizona’s first drive of the game.
Before this play, it looked like the drive was over as Darryl Roberts tackled Larry Fitzgerald for no gain on 3rd and 1. But the Cardinals then picked up the 4th down conversion to keep the drive going.
A few plays later, the Lions pick off Murray.
This is 3rd and 9 for the Cardinals on the Lions 30. The Lions show pressure, primarily with two linebackers showing blitz over the center. Jamie Collins does blitz, and he’s the player to watch.
Murray is looking for a deep crossing route over the middle. But as he throws Collins is in his face and disrupts the throw, causing the ball to go high and off the hands of the receiver. Duron Harmon is there to grab it for the Lions first interception of this game, and of the 2020 season.
The lack of blitzing has been well documented through Matt Patricia’s tenure. Here, the Lions blitzed and Jamie Collins got home to get pressure on the QB. It was the start of a great game for Collins as he got his own interception later, as you’ll see below.
Mixing up coverages
The Lions second interception comes in the 2nd quarter. The score is 7-3 Cardinals, and Arizona has the ball after their last drive went for a touchdown. This drive starts on their 10-yard line after a Lions punt.
The interception happens on 1st down from the 20-yard line.
The Lions are going to drop into zone defense on this play. Jamie Collins lines up over Larry Fitzgerald, and covers a zone in the middle of the field. Collins watches Kyler Murray’s eyes the whole way. Collins breaks on Fitzgerald’s out route and jumps the route for the pick.
Murray helps the Lions here by staring down his receiver. He also throws off his back foot, which means he can’t get enough on the ball to get it past Collins.
With the Lions playing zone Collins is able to watch the QB instead of being locked on his man. He does a great job of feeling where Fitzgerald is going and anticipating the throw to make the interception.
The Lions would take full advantage of this turnover by scoring a touchdown to take a 10-7 lead.
This was what all Lions fans were waiting for after seeing Jeff Okudah give up some big receptions last week, and earlier in this game.
It’s now 17-16 Lions in the third quarter. Earlier on this drive, Okudah is penalized for defensive holding giving the Cardinals a first down. Setting up this pick is a sack on first down and an incompletion on second down making it 3rd and 12.
On this play Detroit shows some pressure but only rushes four. Murray has time, but there is a bit of late pressure so he scrambles to his right. With Will Harris running at him, he throws to Deandre Hopkins, who’s running a crossing route. The throw is late, and Jeff Okudah dives to make the interception. He then gets up and returns the ball 30 yards to give the Lions great field position.
The Lions defense has sorely needed plays like these from Okudah, Collins and Harmon. It’s interesting that all three are players added this year. If the Lions defense can keep creating turnovers, it’ll most certainly help this defense, even if it struggles containing opposing offenses.