Detroit Lions' big rally comes up short in 38-35 loss to Philadelphia Eagles in opener
The Detroit Lions' offense looked improved Sunday, cutting a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter to three vs. the Philadelphia Eagles at Ford Field.
But the defensive issues from last season continued all day, culminating in running back Miles Sanders breaking free on third-and-2 on the final play before the two-minute warning, and Jalen Hurts converting a fourth-and-1 QB sneak to help the Eagles hold off the Lions, 38-35.
New optimism, same results.
The Eagles ran for 216 yards and four touchdowns in the season opener for both teams in Week 1 of the NFL regular season.
D’Andre Swift had a career-best 175 yards from scrimmage to lead an improved Lions offense, but the game was in some ways a facsimile of the 44-6 butt-kicking the Eagles gave the Lions last October.
Philadelphia ran for 236 yards in that game and dominated play at both lines of scrimmage.
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On Sunday, the Eagles scored on five of their six offensive possessions in the second and third quarters, and returned a Jared Goff interception for a touchdown before halftime.
Hurts had 243 yards passing and 90 rushing, extending numerous plays with his feet and side-stepping at least five sacks. And Hurts, Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott all scored rushing touchdowns for an Eagles team expected to contend for the NFC East title and a playoff berth.
The Lions, who are 0-4-1 in their past five Week 1 games and have not won an opener since beating the Arizona Cardinals, 35-23, in 2017, trailed by double digits for nearly the entire second half, until Goff hit DJ Chark for a 22-yard touchdown with 3:51 to play.
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The Eagles picked up two first downs on the ensuing drive, one on Sanders’ 24-yard run and one on a sneak by Hurts in the final minute to end the game.
Swift, who said during training camp his goal was to become the fourth player in NFL history to reach 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season, was a ray of hope for a Lions team that shot itself in the foot with penalties, dropped passes and poor game management.
He had 15 carries for 144 yards and a touchdown and 31 yards on three receptions.
Goff finished 21 of 37 for 215 yards with two touchdowns, but completed just 3 of his first 10 passes and had 88 yards passing late in the third quarter.
Goff seemed out of synch with his receivers several times Sunday, including on James Bradberry’s interception return touchdown, when he threw towards the sideline as T.J. Hockenson turned his route upfield.
Sanders finished with 96 yards on 13 carries for the Eagles, who kicked a field goal at the end of the first half after the Lions hurried a play to scrimmage before the two-minute warning, keeping precious seconds on the clock. The Eagles also scored a touchdown on a short field after they recovered a surprise onside kick in the third quarter.
The Lions (0-1) finished with seven enforced penalties for 65 yards, and lost safety Tracy Walker after he was ejected for picking up two personal fouls on the same play.
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They host the Washington Commanders at Ford Field next week (1 p.m., Fox). Washington blew a lead, then rallied at home to defeat Jacksonville, 28-22.