Detroit — When it mattered most, the Detroit Lions looked pretty good in their second preseason game Saturday night. The New York Jets, on the other hand, are clearly on track to be one of the league’s worst teams.
The Lions jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the first half and held on through a largely punch-less final two quarters, coming away with a 16-6 victory at Ford Field.
With the starting offense on the field for the first three series, the Lions scored twice. On the opening possession, quarterback Matthew Stafford completed both of his throws for 28 yards, but couldn’t overcome an 11-yard loss on a sack, leading to a 37-yard Matt Prater field goal.
After the teams traded punts, Stafford led the offense 73 yards in 11 plays, connecting with Marvin Jones for a 5-yard touchdown on a fade to the back corner of the end zone. Stafford was 6-for-7 on the drive with Jones catching four passes.
Stafford took a seat after the touchdown, finishing his night 8-for-10 for 84 yards and the score.
Lions coach Jim Caldwell was not surprised by Jones' impressive performance.
"I think that one of the things that you’ll notice about him is he’s, to me when I look at him and watch him practice, he’s better than he was a year ago," Caldwell said. "He’s coming out of cuts better. He’s running better routes."
Detroit’s top defensive unit was even more impressive in the early going, forcing the Jets to go three-and-out on their first three possessions. On the first, defensive end Cornelius Washington came unblocked off the right edge on third down, delivering a punishing hit to Jets quarterback Christian Hackerberg that jarred the ball free. The fumble was recovered by the Jets, leading to a punt.
On the next Jets possession, Lions cornerback Nevin Lawson knocked away a Hackenberg pass intended for Charone Peake. The deflection was nearly intercepted by safety Glover Quin.
The Jets finished the first half with two first downs and 43 yards of offense.
The Lions tacked on three more points before halftime when backup Jake Rudock marched the offense 87 yards on 16 plays, highlighted by a frozen rope into a tight window to rookie tight end Michael Roberts for a 22-yard gain. But the drive stalled due to blocking breakdowns on second and third down deep in Jets territory, leading to a 25-yard chip shot from Prater.
With backups taking over on both sides in the second half, the game ground to a halt.
The Lions went three-and-out to start the third quarter, but rookie tight end Robert Tonyan was able to recover a muffed punt, giving the offense the ball back at the Jets 25. The opportunity was squandered when Rudock threw an interception directly to Jets linebacker Corey Lemonier.
The teams continued to trade punts until the Jets offense finally found some success with backup quarterback Bryce Petty. He led a 74-yard drive deep into Lions territory, but a throw into the end zone was broken up by cornerback Jamal Agnew, leading to a 31-yard Ross Martin field goal.
Martin would cut the lead to seven with a 28-yard field goal on the Jets’ next possession, but the Lions were able to salt the game away with a 50-yard Prater boot with 4:19 remaining.
The game-sealing field goal was largely set up by a 43-yard Keshawn Martin kickoff return.
Lions safety Roland Milligan intercepted Petty in the end zone in the final minute to preserve the 16-6 margin.