Under nearly the same circumstances as 2011, the Detroit Lions welcomed the New England Patriots to Ford Field for the third preseason game of the year, badly needing momentum. In nearly a carbon copy of that game, the Lions turned exactly the same trick, hammering the Patriots 40-9 behind a ferocious defense, an efficient (at times) offense and quality special teams.
From four takeaways to 331 yards passing, the Lions had another hot night on both sides of the ball at the expense of Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and company. Yes, there was plenty to work on, but fans will have plenty of reason to be happy given the complete, emotional performance their team turned in. The Hunt Report recaps a loud, overwhelming night for the Lions.
Red Zone Efficiency Must Improve. While the Lions' defense forced four turnovers and swarmed the Patriots, they only scored 13 points off those changes in possession, despite the fact that many were within close range of New England's end zone. The Lions weren't fantastic in the red zone, and need to do a better job of cashing in touchdowns with a short field. Field goals will not cut it when the games begin to count, and Matthew Stafford has to be more accurate with a short field.
Penalties Were A Theme. Again. 11 for 102 yards this time, including perhaps the most silly personal foul ever seen on Willie Young for taunting Brady after pressure in the end zone. Detroit cannot be giving teams extra chances and free yardage, especially when they're dominating the game. That speaks to an arrogant mindset which cannot continue to permeate the Lions' roster and must be dealt with fast by Jim Schwartz. Things happen in the course of a game, but the Lions must take care to avoid personal fouls and easy penalties to avoid.
Three Cheers For Defensive Pressure. The Lions got plenty of heat on Brady and Ryan Mallett Thursday, bull rushing them from the middle and end positions. Jason Jones was the most notable and exciting lineman, collecting two sacks and a fumble, but Ndamukong Suh, Ziggy Ansah, Devin Taylor and Willie Young also played well up front. Brady was clearly rattled by Detroit's rush to the tune of one interception, and often found it tough to complete passes down field and get in a rhythm. If the Lions' defensive line is able to play as well as they did Thursday during the season, teams will find it difficult to have time to throw.
So Much For The Idea That Detroit's Running Backs Shouldn't Be Full-Time Receivers: No Calvin Johnson this time? No problem. Reggie Bush (103 yards receiving), Joique Bell (49 yards) and Theo Riddick (10 yards) were more than happy to pick up the slack for the Lions' non-existent receiving core. Screen passes to running backs represented nearly the entire output of Detroit's offense, which wasn't a problem considering the lack of play makers on the field at receiver. Perhaps things can be alright with this after all. The difference this week? Tight ends showed up and helped out over the middle of the field.
Mentally, Detroit Managed To Raise Their Game Just In Time. All week, people worried if the Lions were dead meat after a pathetic performance against Cleveland. The Lions stepped up with their backs against the wall in a critical position against a good team and answered the bell. Preseason or not, that's a mindset that the team needs to bottle up for the regular season. All too often, the Lions have responded to blowout losses with other blowout losses and more losses after that. Finally, the team stepped up, and that was perhaps the most positive sign from this game.
Lions? In addition to Jason Jones, Joique Bell and Reggie Bush had nice games, Devin Taylor made a few nice plays at end, as did DeAndre Levy at linebacker. Joseph Fauria showed why he's a major red zone target with a nice touchdown catch over the top. Who could forget quarterback Kellen Moore, who confidently led the second team offense
Lambs? Not many lambs on the heels of a big performance, but Willie Young cannot be making silly personal fouls two weeks in a row, nor talking excessive trash. Nick Fairley collected silly penalties, as well. David Akers, though accurate on the rest of his kicks, did miss a curious 31 yard field goal in the first half.
What About The Five Things? Louis Delmas played well, collecting the first fumble of the game and looking very healthy and active throughout. The Lions did have an attacking mentality, looking fired up from the first series on to the end. No wide receiver really distinguished themselves in their battles, though Matt Willis had a few nice catches and Michael Spurlock caught a touchdown and made a nice play on special teams. The newcomers played, and Rashean Mathis had a pass defended. Finally, the offensive line held up well, only allowing one total sack. They did, however, have some penalty issues.
Stalking The Next Prey: The Lions will close out their preseason slate against the Buffalo Bills next Thursday, August 29 at 7:30 p.m. at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
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