|Date of game: 9/8/2014
Recap: Detroit vs. NY Giants
Detroit, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - In a battle of teams unveiling brand new offenses, the Detroit Lions had by far the better first impression.
With Matthew Stafford throwing a pair of touchdown passes to Calvin Johnson and running for another score, the Lions cruised to a 35-14 rout of the New York Giants in a strong debut under new head coach Jim Caldwell.
Stafford operated first-year coordinator Joe Lombardi's system with extreme precision, completing a crisp 22-of-32 throws for 346 yards and finding Johnson early and often, with the All-Pro wideout hauling in seven catches totaling 164 yards.
Golden Tate added 93 yards on six receptions for a Detroit (1-0) squad that outgained the out-of-sync Giants by a one-sided 417-197 margin in total yards and intercepted a struggling Eli Manning twice in the second half.
"Our defense was outstanding tonight and they were getting us the ball back, stopping New York," said Stafford. "I knew that if we just played smart, with how our defense was playing, it was a good recipe for success."
Manning managed just 163 yards and a touchdown on a 18-of-33 completion rate directing new coordinator Ben McAdoo's scheme.
"(The Lions) did a good job slowing down our running game, getting good pressure at times," Manning said.
Larry Donnell recorded 56 yards and a touchdown on five catches for New York (0-1), with Rashad Jennings rushing for 46 yards and a score on 16 carries.
The first 11-plus minutes of the Caldwell era couldn't have gone any better, as the Lions outgained New York by a 154-5 margin through two drives apiece while roaring out to a 14-0 lead.
Stafford and Johnson were the biggest reasons why.
The duo made their presence felt on the game's fourth play from scrimmage, as Stafford sidestepped a rush and hit a wide-open Johnson behind the Giants' defense for a 67-yard touchdown just under three minutes in.
Detroit's next series ended in the same result. On a 3rd-and-13 from the New York 16-yard line, Stafford rolled to his left before flicking the ball across his body into the end zone, where Johnson came down with a fingertip grab to push the margin to 14 points.
Stafford connected on 7-of-8 throws for 149 yards and the two scores over those opening two possessions.
New York finally got something going on its third trek of the night, with the aid of a pair of costly penalties by Detroit.
The Lions had the Giants initially stopped at midfield, but safety Jerome Couplin was flagged for roughing punter Steve Weatherford to lengthen the drive. A pass interference call on Darius Slay later on gave New York a 1st- and-goal, and Donnell was able to bring down Manning's fade toss on fourth down to cut the deficit to 14-7 early in the second quarter.
It remained a 7-point game at the half after Lions rookie Nate Freese misfired on a 43-yard field goal attempt just past the two-minute warning.
Detroit's defense then came up with the first big play of the second half, as DeAndre Levy made a diving interception of Manning and returned it 13 yards to the Giants' 18 to set up a 28-yard field goal from Freese.
After a quick three-and-out by New York's stagnant offense, the Lions increased the lead to 20-7 on Freese's 27-yard field goal with 5:50 left in the third quarter. A 44-yard third-down catch by Tate and Joseph Fauria's 26- yard reception put Detroit in position for the kick.
Another interception, this one by Glover Quin as Manning delivered an underthrown and off-balance throw while under pressure from Ndamukong Suh, sent the Lions back in the red zone. Stafford finished the short sequence by alertly scrambling across the goal line from five yards out to extend the margin to 27-7.
The Giants responded with their best offensive sequence of the night, marching 80 yards in 14 plays and getting a clutch 16-yard catch by Donnell on 3rd- and-15 that moved New York inside the Detroit 30. Jennings had a 21-yard catch soon after and capped the jaunt by leaping over the pile for a 1-yard score with 11:53 to play.
Detroit, which blew five fourth-quarter leads down the stretch of a 7-9 season in 2013, made sure there would be no comeback this time. Stafford engineered a 12-play, 80-yard possession that consumed over seven minutes and featured three third-down conversions, two on catches by Johnson and another by Tate. Joique Bell finally sealed the Giants' fate with a 3-yard TD run with 4:39 remaining.Game Notes
The 21-point margin of victory was the Lions' largest in a season opener since
a 41-20 road triumph over the Los Angeles Rams in 1980 ... The Giants have now
lost four straight Week 1 tilts and dropped to 0-5 when opening on the road
under head coach Tom Coughlin ... New York had won the last three meetings,
including a 23-20 overtime decision at Ford Field in Week 16 of last season
... The Giants had topped the Lions five straight times in the Motor City,
with Detroit's last home win in the set coming on Nov. 7, 1983 ... Detroit
right offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle exited the game with a calf injury on
the team's opening series, while nickelback Bill Bentley hurt his knee later
in the first quarter and did not return.