It was a terrible, awful, no good and very bad day for Detroit’s two Matts—Stafford and Patricia—in the Lions’ Monday night season opener against the Jets. Stafford threw four terrible interceptions and finished with a quarterback rating of 47.9, and his shit sandwich of an evening was topped by a pair of injuries, the uglier of which came when he was sandwiched between two defenders after a throw, with one of those defenders lowering his head and piercing Stafford’s midriff.
The NFL added new rules for the 2018 season that should theoretically make Leonard Williams’ tackle a penalty for unnecessary roughness. No flag was thrown on the play, however, and Stafford stayed on the ground for some time, eventually limping off the field with an apparent injury. Under normal circumstances, there would be a sentence here to the tune of “thankfully, for Lions fans, Stafford returned.” But these aren’t normal circumstances.
The Lions got absolutely walloped in front of a national audience, losing to the Sam Darnold-led Jets by the score of 48–17. After starting the game with a pick-six, Matt Patricia’s defensive pedigree was turned to utter mush as the Jets picked apart every level of his defense—Isaiah Crowell ran all over them, Quincy Enunwa looked like he should have been a first-round fantasy draft pick, and the team allowed the now-former laughingstock Jets and their rookie quarterback to settle into a comfortable groove following their ugly start.
Offensively, things weren’t much better. Even though Detroit had the advantage in total plays, total yards, and first downs through three quarters, they were unable to turn the possessions into anything substantial—mostly because Stafford couldn’t stop throwing it to New York defenders. The third quarter featured a surreal, full-blown meltdown from the Lions, with the Jets scoring on a Darnold pass, a pick-six, a 78-yard punt return, a field goal, and a 62-yard run.
To add insult to injury, Jets fans moved behind their team’s bench in Detroit and uttered the horrid J-E-T-S chant loud enough to get picked up by the ESPN broadcast. Even Fireman Ed came out of retirement to watch!
This was possible because Lions fans, thoroughly discouraged by the ugliest season opener for any team other than the Nathan Peterman-led Buffalo Bills, got the hell out of there, en masse:
Things got so out of hand that not only was Matt Cassel allowed to come off the bench long enough to throw another pick himself, but ESPN made the merciful decision to shuffle the game off to ESPN2 and cut to the start of the Rams-Raiders game. Jets fans will be walking on air tomorrow; Lions fans will be more or less this: