Detroit Lions vs. Arizona Cardinals: Live Score, Highlights and Analysis
The Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals are underway from University of Phoenix Stadium.
This is far from "game of the week" territory, don't try telling either side that this game is effectively meaningless. Sure, the playoff implications are nil, the viewership will be low and only Lions are Cardinals fans are likely to watch.
But that doesn't mean this won't be a fun one to watch, and hey, maybe we'll get a first look at someone likely to be a major player for one of these teams next year, or a front-row seat for history.
Barring that, maybe it'll be entertainingly ugly.
Either way, I'll be here to cover the action when it starts at 4:05 ET on Fox. If you haven't quit on your team yet, I encourage you to follow along.
Final Score: Lions 10, Cardinals 38
Final Score: Detroit Lions 10, Arizona Cardinals 38
There wasn't much on the line in today's game, but the Cardinals still went out and played their hearts out.
As a result, their losing streak ends at nine, and the Lions' streak extends to six.
It's hard to say whether Ken Whisenhunt has saved his job with this performance, but the claims that the Cardinals quit on him last week during a 58-0 bombing against Seattle should be quelled at this point.
Meanwhile, this is a loss that will increase the amount of finger-pointing going on in Detroit now. This was a game that was an almost assumed win for the Lions, especially with the Cardinals coming off perhaps their worst performance in franchise history at the end of a nine-game losing streak.
But the perceived weaknesses of the Cardinals—pass rush, offensive line, quarterback—all came up huge in this game. Matthew Stafford was knocked around all game long, and Ryan Lindley was hardly touched.
Calais Campbell led the charge for the Cardinals on defense, and the secondary stepped up as a unit with big contributions from Patrick Peterson and Greg Toler. On offense, Beanie Wells scored all three of the touchdowns not taken in by the defense.
Stafford turned in one of his worst games as a professional quarterback with three interceptions, no touchdown passes, and a 48 percent completion rate. Two of his interceptions were returned for touchdowns, and the other was returned to the Lions' three-yard line (and only stopped there because Patrick Peterson slipped).
On paper, this was supposed to be a even matchup between two disappointing teams. In practice, it was just a sloppy game in which neither team looked great, but one team looked an awful lot worse.
The Lions will close the season with home games against Atlanta and Chicago, while the Cardinals will finish with a home game against Chicago and a road contest at San Francisco.
In other words, while neither of these teams has any playoff ambition at this point, they'll each have plenty of opportunity to play spoiler.
It's hard to imagine this game going any worse for the Lions.
Beanie Wells puts an exclamation point on a great game for the Cardinals with a touchdown run that puts this game well out of reach, as if it wasn't already.
I said earlier in this game that the game would be decided by which team made the most egregious mistakes. The Lions have given up 38 points in this game, and 35 of them have been off turnovers, including this last run off a turnover on downs.
The Cardinals have ended their nine-game losing streak, with only the formality of the two minutes left on the clock standing in their way at this point.
Current Score: Lions 10, Cardinals 38 (4Q)
With the Lions facing fourth down inside the five-yard line, Matthew Stafford throws a touchdown pass to the wrong team.
Greg Toler picks Stafford off two yards into his own end zone, and takes it all the way back to the other side of the field without being touched.
That's Stafford's second pick-six of the game, and pretty much the clincher for the Cardinals in this one. The only thing left at this point is for the Lions to pad stats and get Calvin Johnson closer to Jerry Rice's single-season record. There is literally nothing else for them to accomplish.
Current Score: Lions 10, Cardinals 31 (4Q)
The Lions lost three yards on their first drive of the fourth quarter. This is a different Cardinals defense than the one that gave up 58 points to the Seahawks last week.
The clock is now a factor, with the Cardinals running it down under 10 minutes, but there is still time for the Lions to get something done.
That said, with the way the Cardinals defense is playing, it's going to be far from easy.
Current Score: Lions 10, Cardinals 24 (4Q)
A big reason for the Cardinals' lead in this game is their ability to protect Ryan Lindley.
Through three quarters, Lindley has not been sacked even once, and he hasn't been hit very often at all. And this is a team leading the league in sacks allowed, which is why their top two quarterbacks have been hurt for much of the year.
But today against a good pass rush, Lindley and the Cards' offensive line is standing tall to limit the pressure in the pocket.
Going into the fourth quarter, it'll be Cardinals ball with 15 minutes left. At the very least, Lions fans should take heart that it'll be difficult to give away a fourth quarter lead in this one.
Current Score: Lions 10, Cardinals 24 (4Q)
Field Goal Lions!
Jason Hanson responds to the Cardinals scoring drive with a 41-yard field goal.
Calvin Johnson and Mikel Leshoure both had big gains to put the Lions into scoring position, but the result of this drive is surely not what the Lions were hoping for.
The clock isn't a huge factor yet, with the game still in the third quarter and the Cardinal lead still at two possessions. But the longer the Lions wait to get things going, the harder it'll be.
Current Score: Lions 10, Cardinals 24 (3Q)
Field Goal Cardinals!
Oddly enough, the Cardinals' best drive of the game ends in a field goal. The Cardinals have scored three touchdowns in this game, but none of them required any sort of sustained offense.
This was the first scoring drive in which the Cardinal offense actually had to keep something going, and Jay Feely nails a 51-yarder to put the Cardinals up three possessions.
If that's indicative of the rest of the game, the Lions may not have any shot of coming back in this one.
Current Score: Lions 7, Cardinals 24 (3Q)
The numbers don't show it, but Calais Campbell is dominating this game on defense. He has been in Matthew Stafford's face all afternoon, and came up big again here by stopping Mikel Leshoure on third and short.
That means the Lions' first drive of the second half ends harmlessly, and the Cardinals will take over looking to put this game away in the third quarter.
Current Score: Lions 7, Cardinals 21 (3Q)
Matthew Stafford has been under pressure all day, and for the second time in the last five minutes, he throws an interception that results in Cardinal points.
This time, the points come more directly, as Rashad Johnson returns his interception 53 yards for a touchdown.
That effectively ends the half, as the Lions, trying to tie the game before halftime, end up digging a deeper ditch.
That takes us to halftime, and the Lions are probably happy that they deferred to receive in the second half.
Current Score: Lions 7, Cardinals 21 (Halftime)
Once the Lions were able to get their offensive line to settle down and stop with the false starts, Matthew Stafford promptly threw a bad interception to Patrick Peterson.
Peterson returns the pick to the Lions three-yard line, and the Cardinals respond with, once again, a touchdown run by Beanie Wells.
Apparently, the key to getting the Cardinals' offense going is to give them less than 10 yards to go.
Current Score: Lions 7, Cardinals 14 (2:00 2Q)
The Lions are unable to respond to the Cardinals' touchdown, and their drive stalls out after a holding penalty.
The Cardinals are unable to get any offense going, and the ball goes back over to the Lions inside their own 10-yard line. And then there's a false start by the Lions. And then another one.
And the beat goes on. It's ugly and getting worse. This truly looks like a pair of 4-9 teams playing one another right now.
Beanie Wells has been taking it to the the Lions's defensive line for the entire second half, and he punches it right into the end zone from five yards out here.
The Lions are sorely missing Corey Williams and Nick Fairley right about now, as they don't seem to be able to stop Cardinals rushing attack.
Current Score: Lions 7, Cardinals 7 (2Q)
After the Lions force another Cardinals punt, Lions special teamer Pat Lee runs into Stefan Logan, who was trying to make the fair catch.
The result was, of course, a muffed catch and recovery by the Cardinals at the Lions' five-yard line.
So here's the Cardinals' best opportunity of the day off a Lions miscue, and...
After an ugly, scoreless first quarter, we finally have some points on the board.
The Lions use a balanced attack and some creative play-calling to get down to the one-yard line, where Mikel Leshoure takes the ball and punches it in behind a great block by Dominic Raiola.
That puts the Lions ahead in this one, and puts the onus on the Cardinals to break their scoring drought.
Current Score: Lions 7, Cardinals 0 (2Q)
I'll be honest. Through the first quarter, there's not much to report. No scoring, no particularly notable plays, nothing out of the ordinary.
There's no telling how this game will turn out, because there's no predicting what these teams will do from one week to the next.
We'll see how the second quarter turns out, as the Lions start moving with a first down for the first time all day.
We're most of the way through the first quarter, and the Lions have yet to earn a first down.
The Cardinals' strong defense and inept offense is combining to keep this game scoreless as the first 15 minutes wind down.
That's two drives and two three-and-outs for the Lions. The Cardinals secondary has been fantastic early, as Matthew Stafford starts his day 0-4.
We might be looking at a battle of attrition here, where the key to the game will be making the least impactful mistakes.
So much for the Cardinals winning in field position. Lions LB DeAndre Levy picks off Ryan Lindley, and the Lions take over near midfield.
The Cardinals appear to be subscribing to the "stop Calvin Johnson, stop the Lions" philsophy. On third-and-short, the Cards put two men on the line to play bump-and-run coverage in the slot.
It worked, and the Cardinals appear to be winning the early battle of field position.
The Cardinals were all the way down to the Lions' 26-yard line, but penalties and lost yardage pushed them out of scoring range, and they couldn't get enough yardage on 3rd-and-25 to get back to field goal range.
So an effective-looking opening drive or the Cardinals ends in no points, and the Lions take over at their own 10-yard line.
The Cardinals are moving the ball on the opening drive of the game and are in Lions territory.
And we have our first injured player of the game, with the Lions taking any blow to their already walking wounded secondary.
Nice play by Lacey, but he appeared to injured his knee tackling Fitzgerald. Not a good early sign for secondary— Lions RapidReports (@CBSLions) December 16, 2012
We're underway from University of Phoenix Stadium. Also, this may only interest me, but it's worth noting.
Detroit has won 10 coin tosses this season. This is the first time they've deferred.
— Justin Rogers (@Justin_Rogers) December 16, 2012
As expected, this game isn't exactly a huge draw in Arizona, but there is one demographic still turning out.
It's early, but there might be more Lions fans in the stands than Cardinals fans. That said, place is about 70 percent empty.— Justin Rogers (@Justin_Rogers) December 16, 2012
Inactive players for today's game at University of Phoenix Stadium as as follows, via NFL.com:
Fairley and Pettigrew are notable losses for the Lions. Pettigrew is the Lions' starting tight end, and Fairley had been playing extremely well.
However, the Lions will get Louis Delmas back for this game, though it remains to be seen whether he'll be able to actually finish the game this time.
For the Cardinals, the loss of Early Doucet to a concussion will make things a little more difficult for an already inept passing attack, but Doucet has yet to earn more than 40 yards in a game this year, so it may be a non-issue.
Not listed on this injury report is Kevin Kolb, who was finally shut down for the season by the Cardinals after missing the majority of the season.
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