Late game surge not enough as Lions fall to Eagles in season opener

Lions haven’t won a season opener since 2017

Detroit Lions running back D'Andre Swift reacts after scoring on a seven-yard touchdown run against the Philadelphia Eagles in the first half of an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson) (Duane Burleson, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

DETROIT – A late-game surge wasn’t enough as the soaring Philadelphia Eagles came into Ford Field to defeat the Detroit Lions 35-38 in front of a sell-out crowd.

The Lions fought valiantly, but costly mistakes that fans have grown accustomed to loomed early and often on both ends of the ball.

D’Andre Swift

But all wasn’t bad as running back D’Andre Swift put on a show for the ages, rushing for a career-high 144 yards and one touchdown on just 15 carries.

The Philadelphia native became the sixth running back in Lions franchise history to rush for at least 100 yards during week one of the NFL season.

Swift came into the season opener with smut on his name after receiving negative press during HBO’s Hard Knocks. Still, it seems like water under the bridge after his week one coming-out party.

Jared Goff

Teammate Jared Goff received the opposite of Swift regarding off-season press and in-season play, as word out of camp indicated that he was going to take the next step and lead the Lions to the promised land. But his poor performance was the main cog in the team’s putrid outing, with fans calling for Michigan Wolverines QB1 J.J. McCarthy to take over the Lions offense.

Read: Big Ten’s worst-kept secret revealed as JJ McCarthy shines in first start for Michigan football

The team didn’t give up, they fought back, so they should at least receive a moral victory, right?

“I think, ultimately, these games count now, so there’s no like, ‘at least we did that in that game,’” said Goff to ESPN. “But, hopefully, we can look back at this game down the line and be like, ‘that’s where we found who we were a little bit, in the second half of that game.’ (We) can use it as a positive in that way, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t win the game.”

The Lions trailed by 10 points going into halftime and 17 at one point when Goff, who only had 54 yards through the air, threw a crucial interception that resulted in a touchdown for the Eagles.

The deficit grew as poor clock management led to another field goal, a ridiculous onside kick, and poor third-down defensive coverage throughout the game.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - SEPTEMBER 11: Jared Goff #16 of the Detroit Lions plays against the Philadelphia Eagles at Ford Field on September 11, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) (2022 Getty Images)

Motor City Dan Campbell

After the game, head coach Dan Campbell was asked why he chose to go for an onside kick after his team scored a touchdown and got the sold-out stadium back on their side, and the momentum as it had started to shift.

Campbell’s response was one for the ages.

“Because I wanted the ball back,” said Campbell.

Lions defense

The Lions defense helped Philadelphia tie a franchise record with four different players scoring a rushing touchdown in a single game which hasn’t been done since 1961.

One of those guys getting it done with their feet was quarterback Jalen Hurts. The Lions could not contain him as he scrambled for first down after first down.

Hurts frustrated the Lions’ defense so much that defensive back Tracy Walker took a cheap shot to the quarterback as he slid for another first down which started a scrum between both teams, drawing an unsportsmanlike penalty.

In a nip and tuck game, Walker lost his cool even more by slapping Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert moments later, which drew a second unsportsmanlike penalty and got him ejected from the game.

The Eagles’ offense racked up 296 first-half yards and finished the game with 455 yards of total offense and 216 yards on the ground.

A. J. Brown

Hurts’ favorite target was the newly acquired wide receiver A. J. Brown who had a magnificent debut. He was cooking whichever defensive back he wanted as Brown finished the game with 10 catches for 155 yards, setting a franchise record for any non-rookie during his debut.

The Lions defense held Brown to just 27 yards in the second half, but Brown had already done his damage as he finished the first half with 128 yards which is the third most in Eagles franchise history.

Like most American football fans, this former defensive player with swagger said he sees promise after another Lions devastating defeat.

“Man, shoutout to the Lions,” said Marcus Spears. “They may not win a lot of games but could win more than they have been winning, but they are gonna fight ya ass for 4 quarters.”

A better start and middle of the game by the Lions and the team could have been in far better shape by the time things were said and done.

Will fighting in defeat be enough for the Lions, or do they need to start winning games to satisfy the fanbase?

Read: Bad behavior by Lions fans has growing frustration for some at Ford Field

About the Author:

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.