It was the kind of moment that had stymied the Detroit Lions so many times during their 11-game losing streak: A potential game-winning play, a gut-punch penalty that reversed it, and the realization that nothing was going to come easy.

But Matthew Stafford has seen a lot during his 12 seasons in the NFL. He wasn’t going to let this opportunity slip away.

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – SEPTEMBER 27: Quarterback Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions drops back to pass in the second half of the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. The Lions defeated the Cardinals 26-23. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

“I’ve been doing this a long time,” Stafford said. “I feel really comfortable in that situation. I love it.”

Stafford calmly led a drive in the final minutes that was capped by Matt Prater’s 39-yard field goal as time expired, and the Lions won for the first time in 11 months by beating the Arizona Cardinals 26-23 on Sunday.

The Lions looked like they would take the lead with about two minutes left when Stafford completed a spectacular deep pass to Marvin Hall at the 1-yard line, but the play was called back when offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai was flagged for holding.

For a moment, it felt like another Detroit disaster was in the works.

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – SEPTEMBER 27: Matt Prater #5 of the Detroit Lions celebrates with Jack Fox #3 after kicking a game winning 39 yard field goal against the Arizona Cardinals during the fourth quarter at State Farm Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. Lions won 26-23. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Not this time. Prater made his 15th game-winning kick with less than 2 minutes to play in the fourth quarter or overtime.

“I’m happy for him. He’s as clutch as they get,” Stafford said. “He loves that moment. That moment has Matt Prater written all over it.”

It was also a big win for embattled coach Matt Patricia, who is now 10-24-1 record in two-plus seasons. Patricia’s defense made life tough for Kyler Murray, who had three interceptions.

“I’m really proud of the players,” Patricia said. “Give all the credit to them.”

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – SEPTEMBER 27: Marvin Jones Jr #11 of the Detroit Lions catches a pass and runs down the sidelines against the Arizona Cardinals as Lions head coach Matt Patricia looks on during the fourth quarter at State Farm Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. Lions won 26-23. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Murray threw for 270 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a score. DeAndre Hopkins caught 10 passes for 137 yards and Andy Isabella had two TD receptions.

“There is going to be adversity every game. That is part of it,” Murray said. “We understand that. Obviously I feel like if I don’t turn the ball over three times today, we put ourselves in a better chance to win that game.”

Arizona (2-1) pushed ahead 23-20 near the end of the third quarter when Murray connected with Isabella from 4 yards out for the pair’s second score. The 5-foot-9, 188-pound Isabella had a slow start last season as a second-round pick out of UMass but has become an important piece of the offense this year.

Duron Harmon, Jamie Collins, and rookie Jeff Okudah had Detroit’s interceptions.

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – SEPTEMBER 27: Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts in the second half of the NFL game the Detroit Lions at State Farm Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. The Lions defeated the Cardinals 26-23. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

“Our defense played outstanding, getting three turnovers for us. We should have scored 40,” Stafford said.

Detroit (1-2) took a 17-13 lead on Kenny Golladay’s 15-yard TD catch with 31 seconds left before halftime. Golladay, who led the NFL with 11 receiving touchdowns last year, missed the first two games of this season with a hamstring injury.

Golladay’s catch capped an entertaining first half that saw the teams trade the lead five times. Murray had another highlight-reel touchdown run, juking past Detroit’s Okudah for a 1-yard score and a 13-10 lead.

“You can see how dangerous he is when he gets out in space,” Patricia said. “There were a couple of plays, we had a couple missed tackles on him. He’s got unbelievable quickness and unbelievable acceleration. Obviously, it was a big priority for us to make sure that we did the best we could to stop him.”

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – SEPTEMBER 27: Jeff Okudah #30 of the Detroit Lions celebrates after tackling DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Arizona Cardinals during the first quarter at State Farm Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

A first-half interception by Murray gave Detroit the ball at the Arizona 27. Six plays later, the Lions took a 10-7 lead when Stafford hit Jesse James for a 5-yard score.

“We didn’t play particularly well. I think you can see that,” Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “It starts with me not getting them ready to play. I didn’t call a very good game. We turned the ball over three times. They didn’t turn it over any. Twelve men on the field, things of that nature.

“That is what will get you beat and that is what happened today.”

Adrian Peterson had a 27-yard run on his first carry of the game to push Detroit into Arizona territory, leading to a field goal. The 35-year-old Peterson, who is in his 14th NFL season, played six games for the Cardinals in 2017.

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – SEPTEMBER 27: Running back Adrian Peterson #28 of the Detroit Lions rushes the football past free safety Chris Banjo #31 and outside linebacker Haason Reddick #43 of the Arizona Cardinals in the first half of the NFL game at State Farm Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. The Lions defeated the Cardinals 26-23. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Cardinals went ahead 7-3 when Murray’s perfectly placed, the high-arcing throw went over two Detroit defenders and into Isabella’s hands.

FACES IN THE CROWD

The Cardinals allowed family members and friends of players and coaches to watch the game at State Farm Stadium. The crowd was limited to less than 750 people and was spaced out behind the Cardinals’ bench.

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – SEPTEMBER 27: Fans watch first half action between the Arizona Cardinals the Detroit Lions at State Farm Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. The Lions defeated the Cardinals 26-23. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

NATIONAL ANTHEM

The Cardinals stayed in the locker room for the national anthem for a third straight week. Most of the Lions lined up along the end zone, with some kneeling and others standing.

INJURIES

Cardinals: S Budda Baker (thumb) played with his right hand wrapped. NFL Network reported that Baker is expected to have surgery on the thumb next week and will likely miss at least one game. … S Chris Banjo (hamstring) left the game early in the second quarter.

UP NEXT

Lions: Host the New Orleans Saints next Sunday.

Cardinals: At the Carolina Panthers next Sunday.

 

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