Published September 16, 2013
GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Detroit Lions always seem to have trouble with the Arizona Cardinals.
It looked like the Lions might finally defeat them on Sunday when Detroit built a 21-13 lead.
However, it wasn't to be. Penalties again haunted Detroit, including a pass interference play to set up the deciding touchdown, and the Cardinals rallied to win 25-21, their fifth straight victory over the Lions.
Dating to 2012, Arizona has won two of its last 14 games, both coming against Detroit.
Here are five things we learned from the latest of those triumphs.
1. BUSH IS ESSENTIAL: The Lions are a far different, and not nearly as good, team without running back Reggie Bush.
Bush took a helmet to his left knee late in the first half. He tried to come back but lasted only a few plays in the third quarter before calling it a day.
"Obviously he's a big part of the offense," Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said, "but that's no excuse. We've got to play with other guys that can step up and make plays and we just didn't get it done on offense in the second half. It certainly affected us, but we've still got a lot of guys on the field."
Bush said that while he couldn't push off the left leg after the injury, he didn't think it was serious.
2. LARRY IS HURTING: Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald, who has missed just four games in his 10-plus NFL seasons, was limited all week in practice with a sore right hamstring but decided to give it a try on Sunday.
He made a couple of catches, including a big one on Arizona's first touchdown drive, but wound up on the sidelines with the game on the line late.
"I didn't want to be a liability for my team," Fitzgerald said. "A couple of years back I would've tried to keep going, but me and Kerry (Taylor) have been working together for over a year now, and I knew he was prepared mentally, physically and psychologically to go out there and play well."
Taylor, promoted from the practice squad on Saturday, had three late catches for 40 yards, his first NFL receptions.
Fitzgerald doesn't think his injury will keep him out of next Sunday's game at New Orleans.
3. MEGATRON BEATS PETERSON: Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson said that Calvin Johnson is so good that he never expected to shut him down completely.
Johnson had touchdown catches of 72 and 3 yards but Peterson thought he overall did a pretty good job on him. Both of the TDs came in the first half.
"He's a phenomenal receiver, hands down," Peterson said. "He's huge. He's so hard to get down. My game plan was coming in here and continuing to play physical with him. ... I do believe I played pretty well overall besides that big play."
Peterson asked Johnson to trade jerseys after the game and the Detroit star obliged.
Johnson said that on the 72-yard play it was a tremendous pass from Matthew Stafford, who somehow got the ball past linebacker Karlos Dansby, who was in position to intercept or at least knock the ball down.
"I didn't think Matt would try to fit it in there, but he did," Johnson said. "If anybody can fit it in there, Matt can. Once I caught it, I didn't feel anybody on me. I looked around and was like, 'Let me get out of here.'"
Peterson had a busy day. Besides defending Johnson and returning punts, he played several plays on offense, catching a pass and completing one.
4. PENALTY PROBLEMS: Penalties continued to plague the Lions. They were penalized eight times for 101 yards, none of them bigger than the 31-yard pass interference penalty on Bill Bently in the end zone that set up Rashard Mendenhall's game-winning 1-yard touchdown run with 1:59 to play.
Stafford said the team knows penalties are a problem.
"We just keep working on it," he said. "We're making a concerted effort to try and play cleaner football this year. I don't know."
5. YOUNG CARDINALS: Several young Cardinals stepped up to make big contributions, the aforementioned Taylor among them.
Rookie running back Andre Ellington caught a 36-yard touchdown pass, then had a 19-yard reception on the game-winning drive.
And rookie Tyrann Mathieu made the tackle that prevented Nate Burleson from getting a first down on Detroit's final possession.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
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