After a pair of grim performance to start the preseason, the Detroit Lions fired back in a big way Thursday night, defeating the New England Patriots, 40-9, at Ford Field. The Lions dominated in all phases of the game, outgaining the Patriots 455-330 in yards and forcing four turnovers to none for the Patriots.
The Lions arguably should have won by more. A halftime lead of 16-3 could have been more lopsided if the team had been able to convert one or more of their three first-half field goals into touchdowns. Matthew Stafford once again struggled with Calvin Johnson being held out for precautionary reasons. Stafford finished 12-for-25 passing for 166 yards and a touchdown.
The defense picked up the slack, however, forcing all four turnovers in the first half. Tom Brady looked relatively pedestrian on the night, going 16-for-24 for 185 yards and an interception. The pick came at the start of the second quarter with the Patriots driving at their own 42-yard line. Chris Houston stepped in front of a short pass intended for rookie Aaron Dobson and ran the ball to the 37-yard line. The Lions would score their only touchdown of the first half on the subsequent drive.
The Lions defense came up big once again late in the second quarter with the Patriots on the fringe of field goal territory. Rookie defensive end Ziggy Ansah showed off his talents by helping stuff James Develin on 4th-and-1 to give the ball back to the Lions.
The Lions continued to pour on points in the second half. A stagnant running game gained traction behind Joique Bell and Mikel Leshoure, who had a combined 10 carries for 84 yards after Reggie Bush was held to six carries for one yard in the first half. The running game made it easy for backup quarterback Kellen Moore to pick apart the Patriots' secondary. He threw two touchdown passes, finding Joseph Fauria and Micheal Spurlock in the end zone.
On the flip side, there was no silver lining to the Patriots' running game. Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden both coughed up fumbles, and LeGarrette Blount's 10 carries for 26 yards stood as the team high. Undrafted rookie free agent Kenbrell Thompkins was by far the highlight of the night for the Patriots. He started with the first-team offense, and proved to be Brady's favorite receiver, catching eight passes off 12 targets for 116 yards.
The Patriots have had a much better run of success than the Lions in recent years, so don't read too much into Thursday night's beat down. That said, for one meaningless preseason night, the Lions looked like the team that had been one of the NFL's standard bearers for the last decade-plus.
Did they cover?
Detroit entered the game as a one-point favorite, so they covered and then some.
Aug. 29, 7 p.m. ET: Detroit vs. Buffalo
Aug. 29, 7:30 p.m. ET: New England vs. New York Giants