Goff and the Lions stun Mahomes and the Chiefs at home

Adam Teicher and Eric WoodyardSep 7, 2023, 11:23 PM ET5 minutes of reading

Goff connects with St. Brown for first TD of NFL season

Jared Goff connects with Amon-Ra St. Brown in the first quarter to give the Lions a 7-0 lead over the Chiefs.

Kansas City, Mo. — The The Detroit Lions marched into Arrowhead Stadium on Thursday night and defeated the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs 21-20 in the NFL season opener.

Detroit Lions

The Lions went toe-to-toe with the defending Super Bowl champions, ending the NFL’s second-longest active winless streak (0-4-1) in season openers. Former Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery put the Lions up for good with an 8-yard touchdown run with 7:11 left, giving Detroit its first 1-0 start since 2017.

Promising Trend: Amon-Ra St. Brown helped the Lions get off to a quick start with their first touchdown of the game — a 9-yard catch by Jared Goff with 2:46 left in the first quarter. Later, he became the first player in Lions history to reach 200 receptions in his first three NFL seasons. He’s proven to be Goff’s most reliable target since he joined the Lions in 2021, and that’s unlikely to change this season.

Shop at Breakout Performance: Bryan Branch hit a pick-six in the third quarter. After receiving praise from coaches and teammates all summer, the Alabama product became the first Lions player since Luis Delmas in 2009 to score a defensive touchdown in his first career game.

QB Breakdown: Goff extended his streak without an interception to 359 Thursday — the third-longest streak in NFL history. Goff looked comfortable against the Chiefs, completing passes to seven different receivers, including Marvin Jones Jr., tight end Sam LaPorta and running back Jahmir Gibbs.

Next game: vs. Seahawks (1 p.m. ET, Sept. 17)

Brian Branch takes the INT 50 yards to the house for the pick-six

Brian Branch goes into the end zone untouched while tying the game for the Lions on the road.

Kansas City Chiefs

At tight end Travis Kelce has 10 days to fully heal his injured knee before the next game. Principals should use it wisely. The Chiefs were furious without him in the opening game. The receivers had trouble getting open and dropped a number of passes, none bigger than a fumble by Kadarius Toney that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. The result was the Chiefs’ first loss in an opener since 2014.

Important under the radar statistics: The Chiefs aren’t usually defined by their rushing game, but they’ll need more than they got against the Lions until Kelce returns. Taking on Mahomes’ struggles, the Chiefs rushed 17 times for 45 yards, a paltry outing for an offense that needs a spark without its top receiver.

QB Breakdown: Mahomes was without his top receiver at Kelce, so he made do with the receivers he had. He completed passes to 11 different receivers and was outstanding on a drive late in the first half. He threw a 25-yard pass to Rushee Rice near midfield, then threw 34 yards to Marquez Valdez-Scandling and 26 yards to Justin Watson on 34th-and-17. Those plays set up a 4-yard touchdown pass to Blake Bell that put the Chiefs up 14-7.

Eye-popping NextGen Stats: The Chiefs haven’t been perfect with the Chris Jones-less pass rush, but they’ve been effective at times. Mike Danna had a third-down sack to end a drive and George Karloftis’ pressure was incomplete on another third-down play.

Next game: at Jaguars (1 p.m. ET, Sept. 17)

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