In the first half of Sunday’s game at Arizona, Lions QB Matthew Stafford was 16-of-20 on pass attempts for 210 yards and two touchdowns. After halftime, Stafford went 4-for-16 for 66 yards.
Well, it starts here: Reggie Bush played just two snaps in the final two quarters — a seven-yard run and a fumble, as he and Stafford botched a handoff. Bush then spent the rest of the game on the sideline, limping slightly on the left knee he injured in the first half. And the Lions’ offense, minus their electric playmaker out of the backfield, collapsed in a 25-21 loss to Arizona.
“Obviously he’s a big part … but that’s no excuse,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said after his team’s first loss of the season.
Schwartz is right in not pinning Detroit’s most recent letdown on Bush’s absence. Even without their top back in the lineup, the Lions still held a 21-13 lead in the third quarter and had multiple chances to put the game away.
Give some credit (perhaps a lot of credit) to the Cardinals’ defense, too. After Patrick Peterson was worked by Calvin Johnson for 96 yards and two TDs in the first half, he and the rest of the secondary stepped up in a big way — capped by Tyrann Mathieu’s fantastic tackle of Nate Burleson, shy of the first-down marker on a 4th-and-4. The Cardinals generated pressure up front, too, forcing Stafford into some poor throws. And a key blocked field goal kept the Lions from padding their edge in the fourth quarter.
Still, the Lions pursued Bush as aggressively as they did in the offseason for a reason. He changes how opposing defenses can approach their offense. The evidence came fast and furious in Week 1, as Bush broke off a long TD catch and Detroit kept Minnesota off balance for a 10-point win.
**This post originally appeared at SI.com. Read the remainder of it here.*