| Detroit Free Press
It was a historic first half at Ford Field … for all the wrong reasons for the Detroit Lions.
Tom Brady, who made his NFL debut against the Lions 20 years ago, was 22-for-27 for 348 yards for four touchdowns in the first 30 minutes as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers torched the Lions for a 34-0 lead at halftime. It’s the third-worst first half for the Lions in franchise history: They trailed 35-0 twice before — in 1991 at Washington in the season opener, and in 1963 vs. the Chicago Bears. (Bucs kicker Ryan Succop missed the extra point after the Bucs’ first TD.)
All four of Brady’s top pass catchers — Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski — caught touchdowns against a helpless Lions defense, and Leonard Fournette rushed for a score.
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And to make matters worse, quarterback Matthew Stafford left the game in the first quarter after injuring his right ankle. Chase Daniel replaced him for the Lions’ second possession and was 7-for-11 for 52 yards in the half.
The Bucs amassed 410 yards in the first half, the most by any team in the opening half this season. The Lions had 87 yards of offense.
It quickly got worse, as D’Andre Swift fumbled on the opening play of the second half. The Bucs recovered and on the first play, backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert threw a 25-yard score down the seam to a wide-open Gronkowski. Succop missed his second point-after attempt as the Bucs led, 40-0, 10 second into the half.
The Lions entered the game with five coaches in quarantine due to COVID-19 contact tracing, including interim head coach Darrell Bevell and defensive coordinator Cory Undlin. That forced receivers coach Robert Prince to take over as interim head coach, with unheralded assistant Evan Rothstein calling defensive plays and quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan calling plays on offense.
Follow Marlowe Alter on Twitter: @Marlowe Alter.