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Patriots vs. Lions final score, takeaways: Detroit wins big, New England falls to 1-2 for first time since 2012

CBS Sports logo CBS Sports 9/24/2018 Ryan Wilson

We'll be honest. We were convinced the Patriots were winning this game. Yes, before kickoff because everybody expected that. But also after the first few minutes of the third quarter, when Matthew Stafford, enjoying a 13-3 lead, threw this terrible interception:

And that was promptly followed by the beginning of what we've all experienced countless times before: the inevitable Tom Brady-led comeback, starting with this dart to James White:

Except ... that was it. That was the only highlight for the Patriots on Sunday night and when it was over, the Lions bullied them to the tune of 26-10

Matt Patricia wearing a hat © Provided by CBS Interactive Inc.

The Lions got things started with an 11-play drive that resulted in a field goal, and scored 10 more points on their next two possessions. The Patriots got on the board just before the half to make it 13-3, and cut it to 13-10 on the aforementioned Brady-to-White touchdown pass, but it was lights out after that. Here are New England's final five possessions: punt, punt, interception, turnover on downs, end of game. 

Added bonus: We can stop talking about first-year coach Matt Patricia being on the hot seat. Seriously, these were real conversations two weeks into his tenure because these are the things you talk about when you get blown out in the season opener by the Jets and in the process suffer the worst debut by a Lions coach. And then you travel to San Francisco and fall to a mediocre 49ers team. 

And no one gave Patricia or the Lions a chance against the Patriots, partly because of the way the team played to begin the season and partly because former Bill Belichick assistants almost never beat their boss. In fact, Belichick has a 11-4 mark against his former assistants in New England who went on to head-coaching gigs elsewhere, and he's 3-1 against them when they meet for the first time. Prior to Sunday night, only Josh McDaniels had a winning record (1-0) against Belichick. We can now add Patricia's name to the Wall of Winners. (By the way, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini and Bill O'Brien are a combined 3-11.)

Here are more takeaways from the Lions' upset win.

Lions may have found a running game

A season ago, the Lions had the 30th-ranked rushing attack, according to Football Outsiders, better only than the Dolphins and the Cardinals. It's why the team used its second-round pick on Kerryon Johnson, who came into the game with just 13 carries for 60 carries but went off against a Patriots front seven absolutely helpless to do anything to stop him. 

Part of the success is because Johnson looks to be legit, but also because rookie left guard Frank Ragnow, Detroit's first-round pick, was destroying folks up front.

Johnson finished with 16 yards on 101 carries (6.3 YPC). For an idea of just how big a deal this is, it's the first time in four and a half years that a Lions running back surpassed the 100-yard mark (Reggie Bush did it in Week 13 of the '13 season against the Packers). Meanwhile, the same issues that haunted the Patriots in Super Bowl LII -- stopping the run -- remain unsolved some seven months later.

About defenses knowing what's coming

After the Jets demolished the Lions in Week 1, several New York players said they knew what was coming before the ball was snapped.

"We were calling out their plays as he was getting up to the line," linebacker Darron Lee said of Stafford. "We knew his signals. We knew everything. That's just preparation as a defense. ... It seemed like we were in his head as a defense."

At the time Patricia said it wasn't a big deal. Well, it happened again on Sunday night.

But is it a big deal?

This is a good point, but the Jets smothered the Lions two weeks ago, and the play above went for a one-yard loss. Of course, the Lions otherwise controlled the first half, including running for 81 yards in those first 30 minutes.

Should we be concerned about the Patriots?


But they look bad, right?

Yes, the Patriots looked lost for much of the evening, but there are two reasons to never count them out: Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Everybody else can come and go, but those two constants, which have been in New England for most of this century, are responsible for those five Lombardi Trophies and double-digit wins in 16 of the previous 17 seasons.

That said, the defense is in shambles. The run defense ranked 21st coming into the game and the pass defense was 19th. Both were exposed in Detroit, and there's no easy fix beyond willing Brady into putting the team on his shoulders.

And before you point out that Brady could finally be washed up, we'll direct your attention to his 2014 Week 4 performance against the Chiefs when he went 14 of 23 for 159 yards and two picks in a lopsided 41-14 loss that led someone to ask Belichick in the postgame press conference whether he'd be evaluating the quarterback position the following week.

In case you're wondering: The last time New England started 1-2 was back in 2012. They went on to finished 12-4 before losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion Ravens in the AFC Championship Game. The Pats started 2-2 in 2014 -- and eventually won the Super Bowl -- and in 2017 -- again they went to the Super Bowl but lost to the Eagles. And the last time the Patriots lost two in a row was 2015 -- they did it twice that year, including Week 16-17 -- and they finished 12-4 before losing to the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game.

What's next

The Lions (1-2) travel to Dallas to face an inept Cowboys team (1-2) that looked helpless against the Seahawks on Sunday. The Patriots (1-2), meanwhile, host the division-leading (!!) Dolphins (3-0).


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