| Detroit Free Press
GLENDALE, Ariz. —Free Press sports writer Dave Birkett breaks down the Detroit Lions’ 26-23 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at State Farm Stadium, and looks at three players who helped their stock and three who hurt their stock:
S Duron Harmon: The Lions forced their first three turnovers of the season Sunday and it started with Harmon’s deflected-ball interception off Kyler Murray on the game’s opening drive. Beyond that pick, Harmon made a heads-up block on DeAndre Hopkins after Jeff Okudah’s third quarter interception, setting up a field-flipping 36-yard return, and as one of the team leaders, he was instrumental in keeping things upbeat in practice last week when the sky appeared from the outside to be falling after an 0-2 start.
Dave Birkett’s report card: Handing out our first A’s of season after upset of Cardinals
P Jack Fox: Fox has been rock solid all season long, and he deserves another mention for his performance Sunday. While Matt Prater will rightfully draw the special teams headlines for his game-winning field goal, Fox nailed a 43-yard punt that pinned Arizona at its own 2 early in the fourth quarter. The Lions defense followed with a three-and-out, then Prater made the game-tying field goal on a short field on the next drive.
Special teams watch: Jack Fox’s secret of success: Quick hands, aggressive approach
WR Kenny Golladay: Plenty of receivers had bigger games Sunday than Golladay, who finished with six catches for 57 yards. But in his return from a hamstring injury, the Lions’ No. 1 receiver showed why he’s such a valuable part of this offense. He made a leaping touchdown catch over Budda Baker that gave the Lions some momentum heading into halftime — not to mention a 17-13 lead — and he had another impressive grab on a third-and-10 conversion in the fourth quarter on a ball thrown behind him. With his favorite target back in the fold, it’s no coincidence that Matthew Stafford played his first turnover-free game of the season.
OL Halapoulivaati Vaitai: It wasn’t the best of Lions debuts for Vaitai, who made a surprise start at right guard after playing right tackle most of camp. While some rustiness was to be expected, Vaitai gave up two of the Lions’ four sacks and had a holding penalty in the fourth quarter that wiped out a long Matthew Stafford pass to Marvin Hall. If not for a pass interference penalty on the next play, Vaitai’s mistake might have set the stage for a third straight Lions loss. Perhaps Tyrell Crosby stays the starter at right tackle in the near future.
LB Jarrad Davis: Davis, the Lions’ first-round pick in 2017, played as a reserve Sunday for the first time in his career. He was not credited with a tackle and seemed to be limited to only certain run-down situations. The Lions clearly favor Jamie Collins and Jahlani Tavai in their stack linebacker positions, and Davis might have been outsnapped by Reggie Ragland on Sunday. In all likelihood, he’s down to his final 13 games as a Lion.
WR Danny Amendola: Amendola did not do anything wrong Sunday, but three games into the season it seems clear that his role has been diminished. Amendola had one catch for 18 yards against the Cardinals and has eight catches for 120 yards on the season. Jamal Agnew continues to eat into the snaps at slot receiver, and with T.J. Hockenson’s emergence, Amendola seems unlikely to match his 62-catch season from 2019.
Contact Dave Birkett at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Lions content.