For a preseason contest, there was a odd vibe around Detroit’s game Saturday. Perhaps it was the fact that the game was on national television, or maybe it was because the New England Patriots were in town. Regardless of why, Ford Field was sold out and the crowd was unusually raucous for a game that doesn’t count. However, that doesn’t mean the fans went home anything other than happy for the most part.
The Lions opened the scoring by driving down the field for a Jason Hanson field goal. Then, Matthew Stafford found Nate Burleson, who has looked quite good this preseason, for a 9-yard touchdown. The second quarter saw a ton of scoring, opened by a field goal for the Patriots. However, the Lions scored next thanks to a 22-yard pass from Stafford to Tony Scheffler. New England finally got a touchdown of there own, as Aaron Berry bit badly on a play action, leaving Wes Welker wide open for a 44-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady. That made it 17-10 in favor of Detroit, but before the half the Lions added a 46-yard field goal from Hanson and a 9-yard touchdown pass from Shaun Hill to Aaron Brown to make it 27-10.
There was no scoring in the third quarter, and then the Lions added another touchdown in the fourth with a 4-yard pass from Drew Stanton to Derrick Williams. That would do it for the scoring, giving the Lions a 34-10 victory at home to remain undefeated in the preseason. Forward down the field, indeed. Both teams were fairly shorthanded, but that being said in a game where the starters played quite a while, and where New England’s starters played more than Detroit’s, the Lions were clearly the better team. They outgained the Patriots 468-353, and had more yards both rushing and passing. The Lions also won the possession battle, and both teams had one turnover, as Brady and Stanton each threw an interception.
Stafford was outstanding in this game. He went 12-for-14 with 200 yards and two scores, but all his throws were on target. Maybe, just maybe, he’ll tap into his potential this season and break out. Conversely, Brady had a rough day, going 12-22 for 166 yards with a touchdown and interception. The Lions defense pressured him all day. He was sacked, hurried, and knocked down repeatedly. Detroit’s defense looked really intense out there, even without Kyle Vanden Bosch and Nick Fairley.
Unfortunately, Detroit’s rushing situation doesn’t look much clearer. Jahvid Best, Mike Bell, and Maurice Morris all missed this game. Ian Johnson was the leading rusher with 32 yards on 11 carries. Brown had 30 yards on nine carries and four catches for 48 yards and a score. However, we’ve seen this repeatedly in the preseason from Brown, and it has never translated to the regular season. Jerome Harrison had eight carries for 24 yards, but he also had three catches for 52 yards. I still think he’s the second best back Detroit has, even if he hasn’t shown it yet. Calvin Johnson only had one catch, but it was an impressive 30-yarder. Titus Young finally saw action as well, and he caught one pass for 19 yards. Cliff Avril had two sacks, and Ricardo Silva had an interception.
Even shorthanded, the Patriots are no slouches, and the Lions were more than up to the task. They played really well. They were accurate on offense and tenacious on defense. It was an impressive performance for a preseason encounter. At this point, even with it only being preseason, the cautious optimism surrounding this team seems justified. If everything comes together for the Lions, this could truly be a playoff team, perhaps even one that could make some noise in the postseason.