NOAH TRISTER, AP Sports Writer
DETROIT (AP) — Detroit’s tight win over Philadelphia left both coaches with reasons to look on the bright side.
For Jim Caldwell and the Lions, the victory stopped a three-game losing streak that threatened to derail the entire season. The Eagles, on the other hand, came in unbeaten, and even in defeat, they showed their mettle by shutting down Detroit for most of the second half.
“We could’ve folded the tents and gave up, but the sideline was very energetic,” Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson said. “The guys understood that we were really beating ourselves at that time and they rallied and got ourselves back into this football game.”
The Eagles were eventually done in by two late turnovers and lost 24-23 on Sunday. Detroit’s Matt Prater kicked the winning field goal from 29 yards with 1:28 remaining, and the Lions rebounded from an ugly loss at Chicago last weekend.
“We have a lot of work to do, so we’ve got to go back to work, we’ve got to see if we can do it again,” Caldwell said. “This isn’t one of those things where you look at it and it’s a defining moment. There’s no shortcuts.”
The Lions (2-3) scored touchdowns on all three of their first-half possessions and led 21-10 after two quarters. Then their offense did almost nothing after halftime as Philadelphia (3-1) rallied.
After the Eagles went ahead 24-23, Philadelphia was one first down away from putting the game away, but Ryan Mathews fumbled on a third-down carry near midfield, and the Lions finally broke through with a big play on offense. Golden Tate’s 27-yard, catch-and-run from Matthew Stafford put Detroit in position for an easy field goal.
Then Eagles rookie Carson Wentz threw the first interception of his young career, and the Lions held on.
Philadelphia plays at Washington next weekend, and Detroit has a chance to build on this victory when it hosts Los Angeles.
Here are a few things we learned from Sunday’s game:
LIONS FIGHT BACK
Detroit lost seven of its first eight games last season, including a couple lopsided defeats against Arizona and Kansas City. After the loss to the Bears, the Lions looked as if they were in danger of repeating that type of swoon in 2016, but they played well enough to win against Philadelphia.
Aside from the late interception, Wentz was impressive, going 25 of 33 for 238 yards and two touchdowns. The Eagles wiped out a double-digit deficit in the second half on the road, and that should give them confidence going forward.
Philadelphia hadn’t allowed more than 14 points in any of its first three games. Then Detroit scored 21 in the first half.
The Eagles bounced back in the second half, holding Detroit to only 45 more yards of offense.
Philadelphia can’t be at all pleased with the penalty disparity in this game. The Eagles were flagged 14 times for 111 yards, while Detroit had only two penalties for 18 yards.
Fletcher Cox was called for unnecessary roughness on a play in which Stafford’s helmet came off in the second quarter. That negated a third-down sack and enabled the Lions to score a touchdown when they would otherwise have likely settled for a field goal attempt.
Tate has been overshadowed this season by newly acquired receiver Marvin Jones, but he made a crucial contribution Sunday with his catch on the winning drive. The Lions also lined him up in the backfield some. He had three carries for 6 yards and three catches for 39.
“I needed that, this team needed that,” Tate said. “It was good to be found and make a play at the end to help us win.”
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