Throughout this last week, the big question was whether backup QB Drew Stanton could step up and effectively take over the role left by the injured Carson Palmer. All concerns seemed to be dispelled early on in the game, as Stanton converted the first two drives of the day into TDs. His first was a beautiful pass to WR Michael Floyd, who was able to bring down the 42 yard throw despite getting mixed up in a flagrant defensive pass-interference call. His second one, also to Floyd, was a 12 yard pass to the right. With the defense keeping Detroit to only a FG, things were looking up as the 1st quarter came to a close.
The start of the 2nd quarter was where the trouble began. After a 30 yard pass to WR John Brown to open the quarter, Stanton committed his first major error of the day, as he was intercepted by LB Josh Bynes. And thus a defensive battle was born. What followed was a series of drives that all ended in punts. The only notable action was an Alex Okafor sack on Stafford early in the quarter, as well as a Cassius Vaughn interception on Stanton, his second (and thankfully last) of the day. The Lions were able to capitalize on this interception by ending the half with another FG from K Matt Prater, putting the score at 14-6. As you can tell from the title, there would be no more scoring.
The 3rd quarter was essentially a continuation of the 2nd. An Alex Okafor sack in the opening drive by Detroit led to another punt, and the tone was set. Drive after drive ended in punts, with several penalties, mostly committed by Detroit, keeping the referees busy. With 4:05 left in the 3rd quarter, S Rashad Johnson intercepted Stafford, although a 5 yard penalty by Arizona, followed by a 3 and out, wasted the opportunity. The 4th quarter soon rolled around.
With the score at 14-6, and no sight of the offense, the final 15 minutes were tense. As had been the theme in the previous two quarters, both defense's continued to dominate. The Cardinals were able to take up over 3 minutes with their first drive of the quarter, although it ended in yet another punt from P Drew Butler. However, the next drive by Detroit would see the Cardinals defense keep the pressure on. After 5 minutes on the field, Stafford and his offense were stopped at the Cardinals 47 on 4th down to give the ball back to Arizona. After a couple more punts from both teams, the Cardinals were able to run the clock out from 2:42 to end the game, and keep the #1 seed in the NFC.
Despite a lackluster effort after the 1st quarter, Stanton did end the day 21-32 for 306 yards and two touchdowns, with the two interceptions in the 2nd quarter serving as his major imperfections. It's important to keep in mind that the Lions defense is ranked #1 in the league, which makes Stanton's efforts slightly more respectable. The Cardinals' run game continued to be a concern, as RB Andre Ellington was only able to rush for 42 yards off of 19 attempts.
Next week, the Cardinals travel to Seattle to take on the division rival Seahawks. This will be no easy contest, and with the NFC Playoff picture looking as close as it is, a victory will be important. Can Stanton and the offense pick it up? We will see in a week.