Detroit News reporter Justin Rogers shares his thoughts on the Lions' preseason loss to the Houston Texans. Justin Rogers, The Detroit News
Houston — The Detroit Lions remain winless in the preseason, but unlike last week's 31-3 defeat at the hands of the New England Patriots, Saturday's 30-23 wasn't devoid of positive play.
"I think there was definitely more competitive snaps out there," Patricia said. "In the end, too many bad plays, obviously. Penalties are a big problem in the game, which put us behind the eight-ball on some of that stuff. And turnovers, offensively, we can't have it."
Playing the majority of the second half, third-string quarterback David Fales put together a surprisingly stellar performance, completing 12 of 19 passes for 226 yards and a touchdown.
"I think it's easier when you get to stack some plays out there," Fales said. "Last game, we kept going three-and-out, three-and-out, three-and-out. This game, we were able to get a couple plays rolling together, get a rhythm and everyone is able to settle in."
Fales' first pass, a 35-yard completion to rookie Travis Fulgham, marked the team's longest non-penalty gain of the preseason. Three plays later, Fales topped it, hitting Andy Jones, in stride. for 48 yards down to the Texans' 5-yard line.
The Lions finished the drive when Fales hooked up with running back Zach Zenner out of play-action for the final 5 yards, cutting the Texans' lead to four.
After Houston countered with a 13-play, 91-yard touchdown drive of its own, Fales orchestrated a response, completing all four of his throws for 64 yards. Running back Mark Thompson finished the series, plowing across the goal line from a yard out.
Fales was provided an opportunity to lead a game-winning drive in the closing minutes, but saw four consecutive passes bounce off his targets' hands, including two clear drops by tight ends Isaac Nauta and Jerome Cunningham.
"It's tough," Fales said. "Everyone was in the right spots, we just didn't finish it."
After a Texans 39-yard field goal by Ka'imi Fairbairn with 57 seconds remaining, Fales got the Lions in position for a final shot to tie or win the game, but his long throw into the end zone was deflected away by cornerback Derrick Baity Jr.
The Lions will return home to face the Buffalo Bills on Friday night in the third preseason game for both teams.
► Despite playing in the second preseason game last year, Lions starting quarterback Matthew Stafford did not take any snaps in this contest. Josh Johnson, who signed with the team last weekend, got the start and played into the third quarter.
Johnson wasn't sharp, completing nine of his 18 throws for 85 yards. He was picked off on his final throw of first half, when trying to get Detroit into field goal range in the closing seconds of the second quarter.
► For the second consecutive week, the Lions offense has struggled to get going. A week after mustering just 93 yards against the Patriots, the Lions did a little better against Houston, with 112 yards in the first half.
Fales' performance pushed the Lions to nearly 400 yards in total offense on the night.
Still, the team didn't have a first down their first three possessions and just one through the first five series, courtesy a pass interference penalty.
► Speaking of pass interference, both the Lions and Texans both challenged a pass interference call, but both calls stood with the ruling on the field.
► The Lions defense was hit and miss. The starting group consisted of eight projected starters, two top backups and defensive tackle Fred Jones. The unit struggled to get any pressure on the opening drive, when Deshaun Watson steered the Texans on an 11-play touchdown drive, going 5-for-7 for 60 yards and a 4-yard scoring strike to Deandre Hopkins.
► Among the standout performers on defense were Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Romeo Okwara.
Reeves-Maybin was flying around the field, making five tackles, including one for a loss, and breaking up a pass.
"I just wanted to come out and play with a lot of effort, be a spark plug for the defense" Reeves-Maybin said.
Owkara was a menace as a pass rusher throughout the second quarter, tallying a sack and two QB hits. He also forced a fumble, which was scooped up and returned for a touchdown by rookie safety Will Harris.
► Andrew Adams continues to make plays. The veteran safety intercepted a pass in the red zone.
"Intellect would probably be the starting point," Patricia said. "He's really smart player, smart guy, studies really hard."
► Running back Kerryon Johnson got three carries and looked sharp, gaining 16 yards. Rookie T.J. Hockenson had a great block on the first carry and added a 22-yard reception on a throw back across the formation.
► Joe Dahl got the start at left guard and got hit with two penalties, a hold and false start. In total, the Lions were flagged eight times for 97 yards.