Cornerback Darius Slay recorded his first career interception return for a touchdown when he returned Josh Rosen’s pass 67 yards with 3:03 remaining in the third quarter and the Detroit Lions beat the Arizona Cardinals 17-3 on Sunday in Glendale, Ariz.
The Lions won in Arizona for the first time since 1993 thanks to Slay’s craftiness against Arizona’s rookie quarterback.
On a third-and-14 at the Detroit 44, Rosen dropped back and targeted receiver Trent Sheffield. Slay stepped in front of the pass and returned it to give Detroit a 10-0 lead.
“I kind of baited him,” Slay said. “I knew it was coming.”
It was Slay’s third interception of the season after he tied for the league lead with eight interceptions last season. The defensive play helped the Lions (5-8) win for the second time in their last seven games on a day when offense was lacking for both teams.
“He’s a veteran,” Rosen said after throwing his 12th interception “That’s why maybe go away from him next time.”
The Lions ended an eight-game skid in Arizona that dated to the Wayne Fontes era on a day when they gained 218 total yards.
Matt Prater booted a 47-yard field goal in the second quarter while Zach Zenner scored on a 1-yard run with 4:05 left in the fourth quarter.
“It is great to get the win,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said. “It is great to see some of the improvement in some of the things we have been doing in the last month or last three weeks or so.”
Arizona (3-10) was unable to follow up last week’s stunning win in Green Bay and was held to 10 points or less for the fifth time. The Cardinals are now tied with the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders for the worst record in the league.
The Cardinals avoided getting shutout for the second time on a 22-yard field goal by Zane Gonzalez with 8:14 left in the fourth to cut Detroit’s lead to 10-3. Arizona was forced to settle for three points after Rosen’s pass from the five-yard line to Larry Fitzgerald was incomplete.
On its next drive, Detroit clinched the win by going 75 yards in seven plays and secured the win.
“It was missed tackles and penalties that got them down there,” Arizona coach Steve Wilks said. “I thought the defense kept us in the game pretty much to that point.”
Detroit’s Matthew Stafford completed 15 of 23 passes for 101 yards while Rosen was 26-of-41 for 240 yards.
“It was one of the games you had to kind of wear them out,” Stafford said. “They got some good players up there. That fourth quarter our guys really started leaning on them, dominating.”
Sheffield led the Cardinals with five catches for 77 yards. Fitzgerald finished with five receptions for 55 yards with three of his catches occurring on Arizona’s final possession.
“I am just frustrated with the way things turned out,” Fitzgerald said. “We did some good things offensively. We moved the ball, threw it around for some yards, more than we have all season. That is something positive, but we have to be able to muster up more than three points.”
When the game was essentially decided, Fitzgerald recorded his 1,286th reception to break a tie with Jerry Rice for the most catches by a player with one team.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Lions drove 65 yards in nearly eight minutes to set up Prater’s field goal.
The Cardinals moved the ball to Detroit’s 30 on the ensuing drive thanks to a facemask penalty on the Lions during Rosen’s 19-yard pass to Sheffield.
The drive stalled when running back David Johnson lost six yards on a pass play and Gonzalez’s 54-yard field goal try deflected off the left upright.