clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Lions Open Preseason with Thrilling 27-26 Win

Ever since the Lions walked off the Texas Stadium field back on New Year's Eve of last year with an upset win over the Cowboys, fans have been waiting for football to return. Lions fans experienced a lot since 2007 has started. There have been trades, signings, and of course, the draft. The roster changed quite a bit in regards to so many new faces being out on the field every day in practice, but it is all to make the team better.

Even though last night was only a preseason game, it was still the first chance to get a look at this year's team. No matter what people say about how it's only an exhibition game, I still enjoy seeing Lions football being played again.

The preseason opener welcomed the Cincinnati Bengals to Detroit and got off to a SLOW start. To say it nicely, I was bored by the time the second quarter arrived. I don't know if it was due to the fact that the game was on tape-delay or there just wasn't much action, but I was hoping things would change in the second quarter.

Luckily for me and the fans in attendance who were asleep in their seats, things started to get moving after the first 15 minutes was over. Detroit entered the second quarter trailing Cincinnati 6-0 after two Shayne Graham field goals. With the starters in, the Lions offense didn't do anything. Jon Kitna only went 3-5 for 52 yards and Roy Williams only had 1 catch. The backups did come out and start things off with a bang though.

J.T. O'Sullivan, who has only been with the team for a month after playing in NFL Europa, connected with Shaun McDonald for an 83 yard touchdown pass just over halfway through the second quarter. By that time, Detroit was down 9-0 after another Graham field goal, but this big play cut that deficit down quickly. The play really wasn't anything special, but rather blown coverage by Cincinnati. McDonald found himself wide open, and even that is an understatement. There was literally no defenders near him. That gave O'Sullivan a chance to just throw the ball downfield and hope McDonald catches it. Thankfully, he did make the grab and then took it to the house for a TD.

After making a stop on defense, the Lions offense got the ball back with time to go down the field and score again before halftime. It actually would be the Bengals who got that chance instead after O'Sullivan made a throw into coverage that was picked off. This put the ball on the Lions 20-yard line, setting up a quick touchdown for Cincinnati on a 9 yard pass to Chris Henry.

With the score coming so fast, the Lions still had enough time to get a few more points on the board. Thanks to back-to-back receptions by Calvin Johnson that totaled for 45 yards, Detroit got the ball moving. This would be CJ's only catches of the game, but I must say, they did look impressive. I can't wait until he is unleashed in the regular season. Anyways, getting back to the game, Detroit eventually ended up with a 29-yard field goal by Jason Hanson, bringing the halftime score to 16-10 in favor of the Bengals.

The third quarter looked promising for the Lions, but a fumble would change that. Detroit opened the second half with a great drive all around. The offense drove all the way down to the 1-yard line before T.J. Duckett fumbled literally inches before crossing the plane. The play was originally called a touchdown, but after a challenge was switched to a fumble, giving the ball to Cincinnati instead of giving Detroit the lead.

That fumble wouldn't end up leading to any Bengals points, but Cincinnati did get a field goal later on after having a touchdown called back because of holding, making the score 19-10.

Once again, it would be a turnover that killed the next Lions drive. Detroit got all the way inside the Bengals red zone before Dan Orlovsky threw an interception that was returned 81 yards by Matt Toeaina for a touchdown. With the score 26-10 in favor of Cincinnati, things looked bleak for the Lions.

Fortunes do change, however, and for the Lions, that's exactly what happened on the next drive. Detroit quickly got the ball down the field thanks to a 58-yard pass from Orlovsky to Cliff Russell, and that set things up for a touchdown. Orlovsky dropped back and looked for an open man before just ultimately throwing it to the back corner of the endzone where Ronald Bellamy happened to be. Bellamy, who actually played college football for the University of Michigan and is trying to make the team, caught the pass to get the Lions a TD. At this point, with the deficit at 10 points, most would have figured the Lions would go for 2 to make it a 1 possession game. For some reason, Detroit just kicked the extra point, which worked greatly in their favor as you'll later find out.

The defense came out on the Bengals' following drive and forced them to go 3 and out. To make things even better, the Lions partially blocked the punt, which resulted in great field position. Although the Lions could only get a field goal out of it, things were just about to get really fun.

With under 3 minutes left to play and trailing by 6 points, the Lions decided to try an onside kick, hoping to get the ball back to win the game. That meant it was time for kicker John Deraney to come in and show off his alleged specialty. Detroit's TV announcers were talking Deraney's skill of kicking onsides up, saying he was one of the best at doing it. Well, I'm not exactly sure if that's true or not. Deraney kicked the top of the ball and it really didn't hang up in the air too long, but that wasn't the important part. Once the ball landed, it got deflected down the field and somehow was not recovered despite a few Bengals being right on it. With the ball staying on the ground just long enough, Lions defensive back Tony Beckham got on it to give possession back to Detroit.

After that huge boost of momentum, the Lions would score the go-ahead touchdown and extra point just two plays later. Both plays were passes to Kevin Kasper. The first went for 30 yards and the TD went for 7, putting Detroit on top 27-26.

Now that the Lions had the lead after making a great comeback, you would think a sigh of relief would follow. Well, not so fast. Cincinnati got the ball back with just under 2 minutes left and actually got into field goal range. Considering Cincinnati's Shayne Graham was 4/4 already and the field goal attempt was only from 48 yards away, most figured he would make it and the Bengals would win. Instead, Graham hooked the kick just left of the upright for a miss, meaning Detroit wins 27-26.

All in all, this was actually an entertaining game. As I said before, it got off to a slow start, but the preseason drama started soon after and didn't disappoint. I'm glad the Lions won, especially after making the comeback, so we can see the record 1-0 next to Detroit at least once this year.

Detroit now heads to Cleveland next Saturday for the second of four total preseason games. Kick off is slated for 7:00 p.m. ET, and I don't think it can be blacked out, so we won't have to watch on tape-delay. Before closing things out for the weekend, here's an interesting stat from last night's game. The Lions amassed a total of 548 yards, showing that the Mike Martz offense is already off to a great start. As usual, most of it was from the passing game -- 489 to be exact -- but that isn't a bad thing when you get the win.