Was the win over the Arizona Cardinals one of the biggest upsets in Detroit Lions history?

Detroit Free Press

Free Press sports writer Carlos Monarrez answers three questions about the Detroit Lions’ 30-12 win over the Arizona Cardinals at Ford Field.

How big of an upset was this?

I’ve been covering the Lions since 2006, and this is the biggest upset I can remember. The Lions were 12½-point underdogs in this game — and for good reason, when you consider their talent and injury status across the board. I don’t know how this game stacks up against previous betting lines, but it was such a thorough victory, late in the season against a proven contender for the No. 1 seed in the NFC. A 26-10 win in 2018 over the New England Patriots was surprising, but it came early in the season against then-coach Matt Patricia’s former team. This was a textbook annihilation of an MVP-candidate quarterback, guided by a solid plan, patience on offense and defense and Jared Goff’s best game of the season. It was nice to see the consistent effort of the players and coaches pay off so late in a tough season.

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How well did Jared Goff play?

Superman has Earth’s yellow sun, Popeye has his spinach, and Jared Goff has the Arizona Cardinals. The Lions quarterback is somehow imbued with special powers whenever he faces his former NFC West rivals. He entered the game with a 7-1 record against the Cards, with 11 touchdowns, three interceptions and a 103 passer rating. Goff was even better Sunday: 21-for-26 for 216 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, for a 139.7 passer rating. But it was more than that. Goff’s passes were crisp and accurate, and his decision-making was quick. When he took a hit to his lower body in the first half, he sprinted up and down the sideline to get himself ready to go again, and missed only one snap. Goff hasn’t had the best season, but a performance like this proves the Lions don’t have to force themselves to draft a quarterback too high in April.

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How well did the defense play?

It would be easy to single out outside linebacker Charles Harris’ superlative play. He had 1½ sacks and 12 tackles and was in the Cardinals’ backfield all day, hassling and hurrying Kyler Murray. But it was all 11 players on defense working cohesively that thwarted the run early — holding the Cards to 13 yards on the ground in the first half — and forced Arizona into passing situations, where the secondary bottled up the receivers and forced Kyler Murray to hold the ball longer than he wanted to. Cornerback Amani Oruwariye was exceptional covering A.J. Green and turned in his game-breaking sixth interception of the season. Still, something seemed off about Murray the whole game, especially with the accuracy of his passes. But don’t take anything away from Aaron Glenn’s defense, which appeared outmatched before the game but wound up looking matchless.

Contact Carlos Monarrez at cmonarrez@freepress.com and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.

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