Lions turn ball over six times, bench Stafford, fall to 0-5
DETROIT (AP) — Boos, benchings and a blowout: The Detroit Lions sank to new depths in their latest defeat.
Matthew Stafford threw three interceptions and was pulled from the game in third quarter, and the Lions remained the NFL’s only winless team after a 42-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. Detroit turned the ball over six times and heard boos from the fans, especially toward the end of the first half as the offense sputtered.
"I don’t blame them," coach Jim Caldwell said. "Obviously, that’s poor play. Period. Let’s face the facts."
Stafford was unable to lift Detroit’s offense out of a season-long funk, and the former No. 1 overall draft pick was taken out early in the second half after his deep pass toward Calvin Johnson was picked off by Patrick Peterson. Stafford said Caldwell told him at halftime that he’d be pulled if he threw another interception.
Sure enough, Orlovsky came on for Detroit’s next possession, with the Lions down 35-7.
"The offense starts with the quarterback, and I didn’t play well enough," Stafford said. "We killed ourselves with penalties and turnovers, and I’m supposed to be the leader."
Caldwell said Stafford would remain the starter.
"It’s just like a pitcher in a ballgame. He’s not having one of the best games going, so we make an adjustment," Caldwell said. "Obviously, going forward, we do think he’s our best quarterback."
Orlovsky, who had not attempted a pass since 2012, went 21 of 38 for 191 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The Lions attempted 70 passes as a team, tying a league record set by New England in a 1994 game against Minnesota.
Detroit (0-5) was coming off a controversial loss at Seattle in which officials awarded the Seahawks possession after a late fumble instead of flagging them for illegally batting the ball out of the end zone.
All week, the Lions said they were moving on and focusing on the Cardinals, and despite an early interception by Stafford and a fumble by rookie Ameer Abdullah, Detroit took a 7-0 lead on Stafford’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Theo Riddick in the first quarter.
But Arizona outscored the Lions 28-0 in the second. Abdullah, who has shown promise as a running back, fumbled again on a kick return. Although the Lions retained possession when an Arizona player was ruled to have touched the ball while out of bounds, Caldwell had seen enough from Abdullah. He did not have another carry for the rest of the game.
Toward the end of the first half, the Ford Field fans were booing after almost every offensive play by the Lions, and the crowd had emptied considerably by the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
"I felt like at times our fan base turned their back on us," Lions receiver Golden Tate said. "We expect them to be with us better next week. We need them."
Carson Palmer went 11 of 14 for 161 yards and three touchdowns for the Cardinals. Arizona (4-1) had only 15 first downs to Detroit’s 29, but all of Detroit’s turnovers eventually took a toll.
"Once we got the first couple turnovers, it was like piranhas with the blood in the water," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. "I was just worried we were going to start taking the ball away from each other."
Palmer’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Darren Fells tied the game in the second quarter, and after defensive end Cory Redding returned an interception 30 yards to the Detroit 4, David Johnson ran the ball in from there to make it 14-7.
The Lions pinned the Cardinals back at their 1 with a punt, but Arizona needed only five plays to go the length of the field. Palmer threw a 49-yard pass to John Brown, and Chris Johnson later broke free for a 40-yard run. David Johnson scored on a 2-yard run.
Calvin Johnson became Detroit’s career leader in receptions. He caught five passes for a total of 675. Herman Moore had 670 for the Lions.
Detroit linebacker DeAndre Levy left the game after apparently re-injuring his hip.