The New England Patriots were on the wrong end of a 40-9 throttling against the Detroit Lions on Thursday night. Unfortunately for Tom Brady's team, there were few positive takeaways from a game that saw the Patriots turn the ball over four times in the first half.
The good people at the Patriots blog Pats Pulpit tried nonetheless. Alec Shane wrote that, although the team was roundly dominated on offense and defense, it did encounter several good teaching moments.
Situational football. While it wasn't ideal, tonight's game provided some fantastic situational football scenarios for the Patriots to practice. Several times the defense was forced to defend a short field on little rest as turnovers were the name of the game. The offense got the chance to run some short yardage plays, they got pinned on their own 1 yard line, and they got a chance to run the hurry up. Of course, they didn't do any of these thing particularly well, but it's still good to get the practice in, especially against a team that wasn't taking this game lightly.
More tangibly, the first-team defense held up well in the red zone during the first half, holding the Lions to just one touchdown (the second- and third-team defenses were a different story). Rookie wideout Kenbrell Thompkins caught eight passes for 116 yards as the undrafted free agent shined as the team's go-to option with Danny Amendola out.
The game was ugly, but don't expect the Patriots to panic. Preseason performances are rarely indicative of regular season success and the Patriots looked just fine in their first two games. The only man who may actually lose sleep over the game is head coach Bill Belichick, who will apparently be plenty busy studying game film over the coming days.
Overall, this is the type of game you're going to want to forget as a player and a fan. Coach Belichick, on the other hand, will have more than enough film to critique. It was ugly and the Patriots need to make sure this type of play is out of their system.
The team hasn't typically played their starters in the fourth preseason game. But considering the sour taste that this game is likely to leave, it wouldn't completely surprise me to see Tom Brady and company play a series or two next Thursday against the Giants.