By: Will Burchfield
Defense excluded, the first quarter of the Lions’ season couldn’t have gone much worse.
Matthew Stafford was intercepted on his first throw as the highest-paid player in the NFL. Cardinals cornerback Justin Bethel took it back 82 yards for a touchdown.
Stafford was targeting Golden Tate on a crossing pattern, but former Lions linebacker Josh Bynes knocked Tate off his route. Stafford threw to where he thought Tate was going to be. Bethel was there instead.
The contact by Bynes appeared to be legal. He met Tate within five yards of the line of scrimmage and released him just before Stafford released the pass.
That was just the beginning.
The Lions went three and out on their next drive. After the defense got the offense the ball back, the Lions went three and out again. On third down, Stafford was called for intentional grounding, dumping the ball into the turf instead of tossing it out of bounds.
That put punter Casey Redfern in a precarious position, and Redfern responded by muffing a perfectly good snap, running out of the end zone and getting dropped at the Lions’ 10-yard line.
To make matters worse, Redfern was injured on the play. Kicker Matt Prater would have to replace him as punter.
Once again, the Lions’ defense stepped up, holding the Cardinals to a field goal.
Then, on the ensuing kickoff, Dwayne Washington put the cherry on top of a terrible first quarter. After the ball skipped past him in the end zone, Washington retrieved it, declined to take a knee and inexplicably ran into oncoming traffic.
He was dropped at the Lions’ seven-yard line.
It appeared that Washington, who won the job as kick returner in the preseason, either panicked or forgot the rules.
The Lions didn’t pick up a first down until the final minute of the first quarter.
Thanks to their defense, they only trailed 10-0 when it was all said and done.