Chiefs vs Lions recap: Detroit takes advantage of KC's mistakes for close win

The Chiefs found myriad ways to give the season-opening game away to the Lions, who deserve credit for playing a tough, aggressive contest.

Detroit Lions v Kansas City Chiefs
Detroit Lions v Kansas City Chiefs / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

In a game that's going to sting for quite some time for the Kansas City Chiefs, a contest filled with missed chances and silly mistakes, the Detroit Lions surprised the home team in the season opener for the NFL with a 21-20 victory at Arrowhead Stadium.

From the beginning, it was clear the Lions came to Arrowhead to make a statement of their own. After going three-and-out on their first possession, Detroit head coach Dan Campbell called for a fake punt after being stymied once again on third down on the second drive and the resulting conversion ignited a stagnant offense to reel off a 91-yard scoring drive capped by a Amon-Ra St. Brown touchdown catch.

The Chiefs, however, were prepared to answer that early aggression with a stronger-than-expected defensive showing. In particular, the second and third levels of the defense played exceptional football, led by last year's first-round pick Trent McDuffie, who forced a fumble to half the Lions third drive of the game in the red zone. McDuffie also came up with big-time open field tackles and pass deflections on the night.

From there, both defenses did their best to clamp down on the offensive fireworks that were largely expected coming into the game. The Chiefs moved ahead on a quick touchdown drive before halftime, capped by a short touchdown throw to tight end Blake Bell. In the third quarter, however, a pass sailed through the bands of Chiefs wideout Kadarius Toney to turn into a pick-six for Lions rookie safety Brian Branch.

Heading into the fourth quarter, the Chiefs' pass catchers picked the wrong time to get a case of the drops—from Kadarius Toney to Jerick McKinnon to Toney again. The Lions defense deserved credit here as well to hold the Chiefs to two Harrison Butker field goals instead of finding the end zone. The Lions would finally end a drought of five scoreless drives with an impressive physical drive midway through the fourth quarter as running back David Montgomery scored a go-ahead touchdown to put the Lions ahead 21-20.

From there, everything began to fall apart offensively for both teams. The Lions would end up turning the ball over on downs with less than five minutes left at midfield after Dan Campbell's attempt to stay so aggressive backfired. However, the Chiefs then found a way to put together one embarrassing miscue after another in what resembled a purposeful attempt to lose the game. Dropped passes and silly penalties put the Chiefs in a desperate 4th-and-25 that failed, giving the Lions a fresh set of downs with two minutes left.

In the end, the Lions were able to churn enough off of the clock to put the Chiefs away at home in a game that will leave fans confused and frustrated. The victory was there for the taking in numerous ways and yet they played like older Chiefs teams that found ways to lose.

As for Week 2, both the Lions and Chiefs will enjoy a mini-bye of sorts before playing again. The Lions get a week and a half off before hosting the Seattle Seahawks for their home opener on September 17. The Chiefs will visit Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars on the same day after 10 days between games.