The New England Patriots defeated the Detroit Lions 29-0. The Patriots improved to 2-3, while the Lions fell to 1-4.
The Lions struggled in all three phases of the game, as the league's highest-scoring offense heading into this matchup was shut out. The Lions offense was 0-for-6 on fourth-down attempts, the first time that has happened in the league since 1995.
Patriots rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe got his first NFL start and looked ready and calm going against the Lions defense. The Patriots played it rather conservatively, especially at first, and through halftime had only scored field goals on offense. Even with red zone struggles, Zappe made good decisions with the ball and established a rhythm from the beginning.
The first touchdown of the game came defensively, when Matthew Judon's strip sack set up a fumble recovery and touchdown from Kyle Dugger. Judon had Goff's number throughout the game, with help from his supporting cast and making this a long day for Detroit's offense.
Following four Nick Folk field goals, New England was finally able to get to the end zone on offense thanks to a 24-yard pass from Zappe to Jakobi Meyers. Zappe clearly established that he was comfortable in his new role and started taking more risks as the game continued, while keeping the game under control.
The Patriots had a lot of help from Folk, who ended the game going 5-for-5 on field goals and 2-for-2 on extra points, scoring 17 of New England's points.
Why the Patriots won
Defense. Defense. Defense. The Patriots defense showed up today, recording an interception, a strip sack scoop and score and two sacks. The defense forced a turnover on downs six times and made the highest-scoring offense heading into this game look like the opposite. The Patriots defense was aggressive, consistent and always looked one step ahead Jared Goff and Co.
Judon was one of the defensive standouts, with the strip sack that lead to the defensive touchdown as well as another sack earlier in the game. He became the first player in franchise history to record a sack in each of the first five games of the season and continues to prove himself as a star on the team.
Zappe looked poised in his first NFL start and the play-calling was clearly crafted with the young player in mind. The offense did not do anything too fancy, often played it safe, taking points with field goals in the red zone rather than try for a touchdown and that helped Zappe look as comfortable as he did. The defense playing as well as it did meant Zappe was able to play where he was comfortable and not have to force the ball.
Why the Lions lost
The Lions offense was no match for the Patriots defense today and Goff looked significantly different than he has the rest of this season. They were unable to get anything going on offense through the entire game. The defense pressured Goff, sacking him two times for a loss of 18 yards.
The Lions defense, which has allowed the most points of any team heading into this matchup, did not play great, but certainly did not have the worst performance. In the first half, it only allowed field goals, but the defensive touchdowns paired with the rhythm the offensive found later in the game were too much for the struggling offense to catch up to and those field goals add up.
The Lions did not have faith in their kicking game, so they did not attempt any field goals today, but fourth-down tries were not successful either.
Detroit had a moment of hope when it intercepted a Zappe pass intended for Nelson Agholor, who let the ball slip out of his hands, but was unable to capitalize on the turnover.
The Lions also suffered a lot of injuries, specifically on defense, which impacted their struggles.
Play of the game
Judon pressured Goff, getting to the quarterback and causing a strip sack. Dugger was there to recover the fumble and ran it 57 yards to the house for his first NFL touchdown and the first touchdown of the game.
The Patriots had control of the game from the start, but the Lions were holding the offense to field goals for most of the game. As the third quarter came to a close is when Zappe and his offense finally got into the end zone and a game that already seemed destined for a Patriots win, made the home team win feel more like a lock.
The Patriots head to Cleveland next to face the Browns next Sunday. Cleveland will still have Brissett at quarterback, with starter Deshaun Watson still suspended for violating the league's personal conduct policy.
Detroit's next matchup will be against the Dallas Cowboys, after a week off for its bye. The bye comes at a good time, as the Lions are dealing with a lot of injuries.