The Detroit Lions escaped with a sloppy 13-12 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday night to move to 2-1 on the preseason. Despite three turnovers and 15 penalties, Detroit was able to steal this one with a fourth-quarter touchdown run from George Winn.
Both Calvin Johnson and Ezekiel Ansah suited up for the first time this preseason. Johnson played minimal snaps compared to the rest of the first-team offense, but finished with 2 catches for 27 yards.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Poor showing out of Matthew Stafford:
The pre-game announcing crew hyped up Matthew Stafford and his improved decision making to no end before kickoff. He responded by throwing a pass that should have been intercepted on his first attempt of the game.
Stafford played the entire first half and the first drive of the third quarter, and finished 10-16 for 98 yards and only one interception. He would have had three interceptions, if not for drops from Jacksonville’s secondary.
Stafford was horrible in the first quarter, but he did settle down after that. He completed his next nine passes after the interception. He was able to settle into the game thanks to the pass protection, which was quality all night.
Still, seven points against the Jacksonville Jaguars isn’t going to cut it. This lower scoring output proves that Stafford is literally going to make or break this Lions team, and he needs to be better than he was last night.
The uncommon Reggie Bush:
Reggie Bush sparked Detroit’s offense with an impressive 86-yard scamper for a touchdown in the first quarter to put the Lions up early. The initial hole was plugged up, but that was no problem for Bush, who promptly cut back to the right side of the field and was off to the races.
After a big run was negated by a holding penalty on the first drive, Bush responded in an even bigger way on Detroit’s second drive with this touchdown. You can check out the play here.
All offseason there has been talk of Joique Bell eventually taking over as Detroit’s primary ball carrier at some point this season. The coaches must feel similar, as Bell had seven carries to Bush’s two in the game. But Bush showed that he’s not ready to pass the torch to anybody.
“As many fast guys as there are in this league, to get a run of that length and distance, those are uncommon,” said coach Jim Caldwell.
Caldwell is right, those kinds of runs aren’t common, but Bush is an uncommon type of back. There are only a handful of running backs who can do what Bush did on his touchdown. Hopefully he can keep this going into the regular season.
Too many turnovers, penalties:
Detroit was stifled by turnovers and penalties all night long. 15 penalties cost the Lions 131 yards, while one interception and two fumbles halted promising drives. Both of these are direct correlations to the measly 13 points the Lions put on the board.
The penalties were highlighted by Ndamukong Suh’s late hit on Chad Henne in the second quarter. Henne got rid of it early enough, yet the defensive tackle came barreling down on Henne nonetheless. The next play, Suh responded by jumping offsides to cost the Lions another five yards. Unacceptable.
It’s times like this that make me wonder if the Lions didn’t go all out to resign Suh this offseason on purpose. These types of unnecessary penalties have followed him his entire career, and mindless, pointless errors like this add up to hurt the team in a big way.
“A great majority of the ones we had were preventable and that’s what we’ll work on, we’ll site, we’ll look at them closely and see what the issues are and see if we can get those straightened out,” said Caldwell of the numerous penalties.
As for the turnovers, Stafford had a first-quarter interception and both Winn and Mikel Leshoure coughed the ball up in the second half.
Leshoure’s fumble was a real drive-killer. After breaking off a 30-yard run to set the Lions up with first-and-goal from the nine yard line, Leshoure lost control of the ball the very next play.
A fumble like that keeps points off the board, and completely negates all of the positive plays he previously had. That type of mistake isn’t helping his case to make the 53-man roster.
Despite all of these errors, Detroit was able to take the lead for good with a one-yard run from Winn with 7:12 to go in fourth quarter. The Lions are now 2-1 on the preseason, and will play their final exhibition contest on Thursday in Buffalo.