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Struggling Lions will take winning ugly

By
The Sports Xchange
Detroit Lions running back Theo Roddick is tackled after picking up a first down in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals on December 9, 2018. Photo by Art Foxall/UPI
Detroit Lions running back Theo Roddick is tackled after picking up a first down in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals on December 9, 2018. Photo by Art Foxall/UPI | License Photo

Detroit's 17-3 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday in Glendale, Ariz., was not pretty but it was a win just the same for the Lions.

Cornerback Darius Slay and running back Zach Zenner scored the game's only touchdowns, and Matthew Stafford threw for only 101 yards, his lowest total since he injured his throwing shoulder in Week 1 of the 2010 season.

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The Lions kept their slim playoff hopes alive with three weeks to play.

"This is the NFL, a win is a win," Lions cornerback Nevin Lawson said. "This ain't college football where we're trying to impress the playoff committee. NFL, you get it how you live."

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The Lions, with five losses in their previous six games, held the Cardinals scoreless until midway through the fourth quarter.

Detroit (5-8) achieved its first win at Arizona since 1993.

The Lions have scored more than 20 points only once in the past seven weeks. The Lions finished with only 218 yards of total offense, most of it by running backs Zenner, LeGarrette Blount and Theo Riddick.

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"What was the outcome?" defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois said. "That's all I care about. I don't care how we got it. It was a win. I know it ain't going to be pretty sometimes, but as long as we come out with that end result, the W, that's all I care for."

The defense can look at the game with pride after allowing Arizona to cross midfield in just four of its 10 possessions.

Slay baited Cardinals star rookie quarterback Josh Rosen into his 12th interception of the year with just over three minutes to play in the third quarter. Slay lined up 10 yards off Trent Sheffield on the play, made a quick break on an out route and after initially juggling the catch raced untouched down the Lions sideline for the score.

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"I baited him," Slay said. "I knew it was coming. I knew it even before the play happened. The only thing I was concerned about was if I was going to score with it."

Slay was one of 12 Lions who left Sunday's game at some point to tend to injuries.

Defensive linemen Ziggy Ansah (shoulder) and Da'Shawn Hand (knee), right tackle Rick Wagner (concussion), wide receiver Bruce Ellington (hamstring) and special-teams ace Charles Washington (hamstring) were ruled out by the team. Fullback Nick Bellore (ankle), safety Tavon Wilson (undisclosed) and cornerback Marcus Cooper (undisclosed) also did not return.

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Zenner had a game-high 54 yards rushing on 12 carries. He scored the Lions' first offensive touchdown since Thanksgiving on a 1-yard run with 4:05 to play.

--RB Kerryon Johnson (shoulder) did not play for the third straight week and he is questionable for next week against Buffalo. The possibility exists that Johnson will not play again this season.

--DE Ziggy Ansah (shoulder) reportedly is close to going on injured reserve. He reinjured his shoulder Sunday and was carted off showing a tearful response.

--DT Da'Shawn Hand (knee) was also carted off Sunday. He suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain. The amount of games he will miss is uncertain.

--PK Matt Prater made his 26th straight kicking opportunity Sunday (14 field goals and 12 extra points) after missing in Week 5 against Green Bay. His five points in Sunday's win over Arizona lifted Prater above Doak Walker into fifth on the Lions' career list with 537 points. Prater trails Barry Sanders by just 117 points for third place, an attainable goal by the end of the 2019 season. He has 97 points through 13 games in 2018.

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--QB Matthew Stafford, despite entering the game with a back injury that limited him all week in practice, was able to play the entire game Sunday. The Lions appeared to alter their game plan to protect Stafford, leaning on the run game and opting for quick passes to avoid hits.

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