By Ashley Scoby
Strangely, after an 0-4 start to the season, the Lions found themselves ahead of the Cardinals by a touchdown at the end of the first quarter Sunday. But as soon as Matthew Stafford threw an interception that was returned to Detroit’s five-yard line – and fans started booing the quarterback – Arizona knew they had them.
Football is a game of inches, but sometimes it’s a game of decibel levels and crowd momentum.
“I think they lost it once their fans started booing them,” said Arizona safety Tony Jefferson, who appeared on PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio. “It was kind of weird. They started cheering when they say Matthew Stafford. … I don’t think fans understand how important they are to us. They’re very important, they play a big role especially in the fourth quarter. … Sometimes I don’t think the fans understand how important they are.”
This isn’t the first time that opposing teams have had something to say after beating the downtrodden Lions. After Denver won 24-12 a couple of weeks ago, Broncos safety David Bruton Jr came out and said that they knew which plays the Lions were running based off their formation tendencies.
This time around it wasn’t a formation that tipped off that the Lions were done: It was all in their eyes.
“Once we got the opportunity to go 14-7, we got another turnover at that point,” said Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson to PFT Live. “You could kind of see the fight kind of die out of them. They weren’t as excited, as motivated, as enthusiastic as they were earlier in the game. And I think that’s just something they’re struggling with right now. When adversity hit them, they haven’t been able to respond and fortunately for us we were able to catch them at this moment and get a big win for us.”
The fans’ actions were a hot topic of debate in Detroit this week, after wide receiver Golden Tate came out and criticized the Ford Field crowd for leaving early and for booing the team.
Tate originally said that the fanbase, at times, “turned their back” on the team, but has since clarified his comments to say he understands the fans’ perspective.
“After getting some responses, I put it in perspective,” Tate said on Monday. “I appreciate some of the responses I got. … I understand where our fanbase is coming from as far as their patience with this organization. A lot of people put it in perspective.”
Regardless of what is or is not put into perspective for the players, one thing is clear according to the Cardinals: When the home crowd is booing the 0-5 Lions, they lose their fight.