Lions' lost season hits new low point
Somebody finally had to win.
The Cardinals and Lions entered Sunday's matchup at University of Phoenix Stadium having lost a combined 14 consecutive games - nine by Arizona and five by Detroit.
By forcing four turnovers and scoring off each of them, the Cardinals finally ended their miserable skid, beating the Lions 38-10 to snap their longest losing streak since 1944, when the Cardinals were merged with the Pittsburgh Steelers and went 0-10.
"This game was like the first four that we played when we started out 4-0," Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell said. "We felt confident, we felt in control. We went out and had fun and made it happen.
"Now we've got to find a way to build on this and take some momentum into next year because I really believe we're close to being a great team. If we get this kind of effort every week, I think we can be one of the best teams in the game."
Arizona (5-9) only generated 196 yards on offense, but the defense made several big plays, including intercepting quarterback Matthew Stafford three times and returning two of them for touchdowns. Safety Rashad Johnson returned a second-quarter pick 53 yards for a score, and cornerback Greg Toler returned one in the fourth quarter that went for 102 yards - the longest in Cardinals' history.
Stafford finished the game completing 24 of 50 passes for 246 yards. It was his second-lowest passing-yardage total of the season.
"I have to play better," he said. "I take that loss. I told these guys in there: That one was on me, and it's on me to get it right and get this thing going in the right direction."
Though he was kept out of the end zone, Lions receiver Calvin Johnson had another big day, catching 10 passes for 121 yards - the seventh straight game he's had 100 or more receiving yards.
Johnson is now 182 yards shy of surpassing Jerry Rice's single-season NFL record for receiving yards (1,848).
Beanie Wells rushed for three touchdowns for the Cardinals, scoring on runs of 1, 5 and 31 yards. He finished with 67 yards on 17 carries.
"The defense did a heck of a job for us today, and we were able to make a few plays to get into the end zone, which never hurts at all," Wells said. "The offensive line did a great job, they had the holes opened up and I was able to get into the end zone today."
Trailing by 14 points in the fourth quarter, the Lions had a chance to make it a one-score game, but wide-open tight end Tony Scheffler couldn't hang on to a deep pass thrown by Stafford. Had he caught the ball, it would have been a touchdown.
"The game got out of hand late," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said, "but we still had plenty of opportunities late in the fourth quarter."
The Cardinals forced three consecutive turnovers in the second quarter to take a 21-7 lead at halftime.
Detroit (4-10) scored first, putting together an 11-play, 73-yard drive capped by a one-yard plunge by Mikel Leshoure.
But it was all Cardinals in the first half following that. The Cardinals recovered Stefan Logan's muffed punt reception at the Detroit 5-yard line, and Wells drove his way into the end zone on the very next play.
On the Lions' next possession, Stafford tried to find Johnson down the right sideline, but his pass was overthrown, and Patrick Peterson backpedalled his way into position to make the interception - his seventh of the season.
He returned it 31 yards before slipping and falling at the Detroit 3. Two plays later, Wells scored another touchdown on a one-yard dive. It marked the first time the Cardinals had scored two touchdowns in the same quarter since a Week 4 win over Miami on Sept. 30, which also was the date of Arizona's last win.
Peterson has an interception in each of Arizona's last four games, the first Cardinals player to do that since Aeneas Williams in 1994.
"Outstanding," Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt said of Peterson. "He is probably one of the best players in the game today and he battled. ... Calvin got his catches, which is what he is going to do, but Patrick did a great job of competing."
It didn't get any better for Stafford or the Lions after that. Facing third-and-15 from his own 43, Stafford dropped back to pass and tried throwing deep to Sheffler. His pass was off the mark, and Johnson picked it off and returned it 53 yards for a touchdown.
Stafford finished the first half 9 of 22 for 85 yards with two interceptions.
NOTES: With a fourth-quarter sack of Stafford, Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson became just the sixth player in NFL history to record at least 25 sacks and 25 interceptions for a career. ... With his 41-yard field goal late in the third quarter, Lions kicker Jason Hanson tied Morten Andersen for the most field goals of 40 yards or longer (187). ... Cardinals right guard Adam Snyder started the game at center because of season-ending knee injuries to Lyle Sendlein and backup Rich Ohrnberger. Pat McQuistan, who was recently re-signed, started at guard for Snyder. ... The Lions were without starting defensive tackle Nick Fairley (shoulder) and tight end Brandon Pettigrew (ankle), who were each inactive. ... Cardinals punter Dave Zastudil set a club record with six punts downed inside the 20-yard line. ... Detroit lost cornerback Jacob Lacey to a knee injury in the first quarter.