The Cardinals turned four turnovers by Detroit into touchdowns, including Greg Toler’s 102-yard interception return – the longest in franchise history – to beat the Lions 38-10 on Sunday and end a nine-game losing streak.
Arizona’s first victory in 2 1/2 months came a week after a 58-0 loss in Seattle, the most one-sided defeat in the long history of the Cardinals franchise.
It was the Cardinals’ first win since beating Miami on Sept. 30, and it sent the Lions to their sixth straight loss.
The Cardinals (5-9) intercepted Matthew Stafford three times, returning two of them for scores and setting up a TD with the other. Rashad Johnson brought back a pick 53 yards for a touchdown to cap Arizona’s 21-point second quarter. Patrick Peterson’s seventh interception of the season set up another score.
”That’s about as bad as I can play,” Stafford said.
Another TD by Arizona came after Detroit (4-10) muffed a punt.
Detroit’s Calvin Johnson became the first player in NFL history with consecutive 1,600-yard receiving seasons and tied an NFL record with his seventh straight 100-yard receiving game.
Johnson caught 10 passes for 121 yards. With two games to play, he needs 182 yards to break Jerry Rice’s NFL single-season record of 1,848 set 17 years ago. Johnson’s 3,348 yards receiving in the past two seasons are NFL record for consecutive years, one more than Rice’s total in 1994-95.
But Johnson’s big numbers were the only bright spots on an afternoon when the Lions’ season turned from bad to worse.
Coach Jim Schwartz, whose team made the playoffs a year ago, was ”as mad as I’ve been for a long time.”
”This team, the Cardinals, they lost a game last week because of turnovers, because of eight turnovers,” Schwartz said. ”We went into the game wanting to take care of the football, wanting to establish the run. We did a poor job of both of those.”
Arizona’s Beanie Wells had touchdown runs of 5, 1 and 31 yards.
The Cardinals, who avoided tying the franchise record for consecutive losses in the season, had gone 11 quarters without a touchdown before getting three of them in the second quarter Sunday.
”There was a lot of talk about if our team had quit,” Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said. ”When it was 7-0 (Detroit) and we were punting the ball there, I didn’t see any quit in our guys.”
On that punt, the return man Stefan Logan, trying to make a fair catch, had his feet knocked out from under him by teammate Pat Lee, who was trying to block Michael Adams. Adams chased the ball down at the Detroit 5, and Wells scored on the next play up the middle to tie it at 7 with 9:18 left in the half.
Two possessions later, a pair of false-start penalties pushed the Lions back to their 2-yard line. Stafford overthrew Johnson, and Peterson made a leaping interception, falling to his backside after he caught the ball. He scrambled to his feet and returned 29 yards to the Detroit 3. Two plays later, Wells scored from the 1 and the Lions led 14-7.
After a pair of incompletions and a false start, the Lions had it third-and-15 from their 43 when Stafford threw in the direction of Tony Scheffler. Rashad Johnson saw it all the way, intercepting it and running down the right sideline for the score to make it 21-7 with 30 seconds left in the half.
Jay Feely’s 51-yard field goal that made it 24-7 with 9:19 left in the third quarter, then five minutes later Jason Hanson’s 41-yarder cut the lead to 24-10.
A 30-yard pass to Calvin Johnson highlighted a drive that had Detroit threatening to cut the lead to a touchdown in the final quarter. A delay of game penalty negated a TD pass, then on fourth-and-2 from the 4, Stafford’s pass into the end zone went right into the arms of Toler, who with a brigade of blockers ran the length of the field for the score that made it 31-10 with 5:07 to play.
”I knew Greg was going to make it all the way,” Peterson said, laughing. ”He had no one in front of him but Matthew Stafford and five Cardinals, so if he didn’t make it, that definitely would have been a shame.”
The Cardinals added a final touchdown on Wells’ 31-yard run after the Lions had given the ball up on downs.
Arizona managed just 196 yards of offense, but scored its most points of the season. The rookie Lindley, in his third NFL start, was 14 of 21 for 104 yards and one interception.
Stafford, whose offense entered the game ranked second in the NFL, was 24 of 50 for 246 yards, his second-fewest of the season. He threw for 230 in a loss to San Francisco in week two.
The Lions had blown double-digit leads in their last three games, tying an NFL record. They barely scored in double digits in this one.
Notes: With a fourth-quarter sack, Arizona’s Adrian Wilson became the sixth player in NFL history with 25 sacks and 25 interceptions. … Hanson tied Morten Andersen for most field goals of at least 40 yards (187). … 91-year-old Charley Trippi, a star on the Cardinals’ 1947 NFL championship team, was honored at halftime. Trippi, who played for the Cardinals from 1947 to 1955, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968. … Detroit cornerback Jacob Lacy left in the first quarter with a knee injury. … Arizona improved to 4-3 at home.
Source: Associated Press