Arizona, who was undefeated in the preseason, showed little of their vaunted running attack, rushing for just 98 yards total and did most of their damage against Detroit via the pass.
"We knew they were going to try to run the ball and we were ready for it and we were ready for the challenge," said Dan Wilkinson. "Our whole objective coming into this game defensively, was 'we're going to take that run away from them' and put the game in Jeff Blake's hands."
"That was our focus, we saw defensively that they would try to run the ball," said defensive end Robert Porcher, "especially with the size of their offensive line, but we've got some big tackles in the middle and I thought we did a pretty good job."
But journeyman quarterback Jeff Blake and rookie wide receiver Anquan Boldin, nearly upset the Lions plans to make them one dimensional. Boldin was spectacular in the loss, catching 10 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns.
Boldin added eighteen more in returns but his fumble, or "muff" of a punt was the play that changed the course of the game.
Boldin's 7-yard pass from Blake put the Cardinals up early. The Cardinals drive was kept alive by two key penalties, a pass interference call on Andre Goodman on third and long, and a hands to the facemask call on Dre' Bly. The Lions answered when Harrington connected with Rogers from four yards out tying the score.
Detroit took the lead when Rogers made a spectacular diving catch of a Harrington pass on a seam route for his second TD of the game. "I was trying to get a good release and stay away from the safety. Joey threw a good ball, he zipped it in there. The safety couldn't break on it and we got a completion out of it."
But Blake completed a nine play, 71-yard drive by hitting Freddie Jones, who beat Boss Bailey in the end zone for the touchdown. "I think I've got some things to improve on. They came up with some good plays on us. There are some things that can be corrected. It wasn't really my fault or anybody else's fault it was kind of a team thing that we just got to go back and look at and see how we want to play it."
Miscommunication? "Exactly," said Bailey.
Blake and Bolden started off the second half the same way they started the first half, striking quickly. Bolden caught a pass from Blake in front of Andre Goodman. Goodman missed an open field tackle and Bolden streaked into the secondary, beating Corey Harris at the five yard line putting Arizona up 21-14.
After stuffing an Arizona drive, Eddie Drummond electrified the crowd with a 57-yard touchdown return, shaking off tacklers and goose stepping into the end zone to tie the score again.
After Detroit went three-and-out on its next possession, Bolden fumbled the punt return, Lions linebacker Jeff Gooch scooped up the ball and returned it for a touchdown only to have it called back when the officials ruled it a "muff."
Replays showed Bolden fielding the punt, and taking a couple of steps before being stripped of the ball and having it scooped up by Gooch.
Lions coach Steve Mariucci was just as perplexed by the call as were Lions fans. "[He said] you can't challenge possession, but you can challenge first touching? I don't know," said a clearly confused Mariucci. [My point is] "the call on the field should stand because that is a fumble and a touchdown like you just called it. I don't want the ball back here, I want the touchdown."
Mariucci said he would be calling the league office for clarification on the matter. "I really want to sit down over the phone and get with Mike Pereira (NFL director of officiating) because then they ruled it a 'muff.' What did you all think?" Mariucci asked to a clearly amused group of reporters.
Harrington took advantage of the miscue, hitting Cory Schlesinger on an over-the-shoulder throw at the two yard line and Schlesinger took it into the end zone for another Lions touchdown.
All the stunned Cardinals could muster from that point was a 38-yard Bill Grammatica field goal. Harrington finished with his fourth TD pass of the game, hitting Bill Schroeder in tight coverage in the back of the end zone. Harrington admitted that he was personally pleased with his performance.
"I felt good, I felt really good, I think the biggest thing is was that I felt comfortable. I didn't feel rushed. I didn't feel pressured. It goes back to how great this offensive line [played]. I stood back there at times and went through four different receivers. You know I hit my fourth and fifth receivers sometimes. That's the kind of time you love to have as a quarterback. They did a tremendous job for me."
Dre' Bly put the icing on the cake for Detroit, stealing away a pass intended for Bryan Gilmore and rumbling 48 yards for a touchdown to end the scoring. "We were in zone coverage; my assignment was to play that curl flat. Once I saw "two," the guy who I was lined up on go inside, my assignment was to look for "one" coming in[side]. I just read Blake and he threw it right to me. I was just able to pick up some great blocks from my teammates to get into the end zone."
Defensively Corey Harris led the way for Detroit with seven tackles. Dre' Bly with six tackles, two passes deflected and an interception. Dan Wilkinson has three tackles and Detroit's only sack.
Despite the win, there were enough problems, the penalties (6 for 36), the problems defending the passing attack (Jeff Blake 28-of-46 for 363 yards and three touchdowns, Anquan Bolden 10 catches for 217 yards) to keep Detroit (1-0) busy as they prepare for next week's contest against the Green Bay Packers (0-1) who were beaten at Lambeau Field 20-25 by the Minnesota Vikings.