Matthew Stafford connected with Kenny Golladay for a 31-yard go-ahead touchdown about halfway through the fourth quarter to put the Detroit Lions up 13-10 over the Los Angeles Chargers. That play and a Phillip Rivers interception by cornerback Darius Slay with just over a minute left sealed the first win of the year for the team from the Motor City.
Detroit (1-0-1) overcame many mistakes and unusual plays by veterans to earn win number one. Stafford threw two interceptions (after not throwing one since Week 13 of last year), Slay got burned for multiple catches by Keenan Allen (after allowing one reception last week) and Matt Prater missed a field goal attempt and an extra point.
Stafford had thrown 181 passes without an interception, which was the longest active streak in the NFL.
Los Angeles (1-1) led the entire game until the Golladay touchdown. They took the lead on a 1-yard Austin Ekeler touchdown plunge in the first quarter. The Lions scored on the ensuing drive with a 36-yard TD pass from Stafford to running back Kerryon Johnson that was initially bobbled. They trailed 7-6 after the missed PAT by Prater.
Ekeler had 66 yards rushing and 67 yards receiving for 133 yards total and his second straight game with 100-plus yards from scrimmage after totaling 154 last week against Indianapolis. Johnson totaled 88 yards from scrimmage with 41 coming on the ground and 47 through the air.
A 39-yard field goal by punter Ty Long as time expired ended the first half with the Chargers leading 10-6. Long was filling in for the injured Michael Badgley for the second consecutive week.
The entire third quarter was scoreless but both teams had scoring chances.
Stafford threw an interception in the end zone on the Lions’ first possession of the second half. Casey Hayward picked off the pass for his first since 2017.
The Chargers had two TDs called back due to penalties on the ensuing drive. But a penalty by Detroit gave Los Angeles the ball at the one-yard line. Ekeler tried to score his second touchdown of the game but rookie linebacker Jahlani Tavai forced a fumble and Devon Kennard recovered it.
Los Angeles had a chance to score again later in the third but Long missed another field goal as he couldn’t convert on a 41-yard attempt.
In a game that was expected to be a high scoring affair by many, with offenses led by two veteran quarterbacks, it was a low-scoring defensive slugfest.
After a week where both QBs threw for multiple touchdowns, over 330 yards each and were relatively turnover free, that was not the case in this one.
Stafford was 22 of 30 for 245 yards, two touchdowns and the two interceptions. Rivers was 21 of 36 for 293 yards, an interception and no scores.
Both relied heavily on their number one wideouts throughout.
Allen had eight receptions on 15 targets. He turned those catches into 98 yards after having 123 and a score last week. Golladay scored for the second straight week and had his first 100-yard game of 2019 with 117 yards on eight catches. He was targeted ten times.
One man who was quiet was rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson. A week after setting the NFL record for yards by a TE in a rookie debut with 131 against Arizona, he was held to one catch and seven yards on three targets.
As for next week, the Chargers host Houston while the Lions are on the road against Philadelphia.
All stats are courtesy of ESPN.com.
Video courtesy of the Lions Twitter account: @Lions.