Lions look rough in loss to Patriots
Detroit — If Friday night's game was supposed to be the dress rehearsal, the Lions have an immense amount of work to do before the season opener.
Although the 30-28 New England victory suggests a competitive game, the Patriots stormed into Ford Field and harshly reminded the Lions of the chasm between a team that qualified for the postseason in 2016 and the one that won the Super Bowl.
“I told you guys this team was gonna challenge us in every single way, so you get a real good barometer of where you are,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said.
Before nine minutes had ticked off the game clock, the Patriots jumped to a 21-0 advantage, leaving the Lions looking for the license plate number of the truck that ran their defense over.
sing their quick-hitting passing attack, the Patriots took the opening kickoff and drove 70 yards in seven plays. Quarterback Tom Brady connected three times with top target Julian Edelman before receiver Chris Hogan caught rookie linebacker Jared Davis flat-footed in the middle of the field and hauled in a 7-yard score from Brady.
Edelman was forced to leave the game after his third reception, suffering a non-contact knee injury. He limped off the field and had to be taken to the locker room by cart.
On the ensuing possession, the Lions needed just one play to give the ball back to the Patriots. Fighting for yards after the catch, wide receiver Golden Tate was stripped by cornerback Malcom Butler, who recovered the fumble.
Capitalizing on the mistake, Brady found Hogan for a 32-yard score on a perfectly placed pass over cornerback Nevin Lawson to put the Patriots up 13-0, following a missed extra point.
After Detroit sputtered to a three-and-out, Brady marched New England down the field for a third touchdown in three tries.
Victimizing cornerback Quandre Diggs on back-to-back pass plays — first a 31-yard pass to Danny Amendola, followed by a pass interference against tight end Rob Gronkowski — the Patriots rammed it home the final 12 yards with three straight runs, capped by a 1-yard Mike Gillislee score. He also converted the two-point conversion to put the Pats up, 21-0.
The Patriots tacked on a 46-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski before the Lions offense recorded its first first down, and New England finished the first frame with a 24-0 lead.
After each side turned the ball over, Detroit’s starting offense came to life, getting on board late in the first half when quarterback Matthew Stafford found Marvin Jones streaking down the right sideline for a 23-yard score.
Stafford completed all four of his throws on the scoring drive for 70 yards, finishing the first half 11-for-17 for 125 yards, the score and an interception. He was picked when rookie Kenny Golladay got in the way of a pass intended for Jones, deflecting the pass into the waiting arms of cornerback Eric Rowe.
Brady finished his night 12-for-15 for 174 yards, two scores and an interception. Looking to connect with Hogan for a third score, Brady lofted a deep throw into double coverage with safety Glover Quin coming away with the pick.
Stafford stayed on the field for an extra drive to open the third quarter and kept the Lions’ momentum going, leading the team on a nine-play, 88-yard touchdown drive to cut the lead to 24-14. He completed five of his six throws during the possession. Running back Dwayne Washington was the final recipient, weaving through multiple tacklers into the end zone for the 18-yard score.
With the backup quarterbacks in the game, Detroit’s Jake Rudock largely outplayed New England’s Jimmy Garoppolo. Rudock led the Lions on touchdown drives of 62 and 70 yards to put Detroit ahead.
Wide receiver Jared Abbrederis hauled in an 11-yard scoring strike with 3:23 remaining in the third quarter to cut the deficit to three, and Washington plowed into the end zone from a yard out halfway through the fourth quarter to put the Lions up, 28-24.
But Detroit was unable to hold on for the come-from-behind victory. New England got back within one after a 13-play drive ended in a 25-yard Gostkowski field goal. After the Lions went three-and-out on the ensuing possession, Garoppolo got the Patriots in range for Gostkowski to knock down a 45-yard winner with two seconds remaining.