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Stanton, Brown Lead Lions to Comeback Victory Over Falcons

The preseason doesn't mean much, as we all learned last season when the Lions followed up a perfect exhibition record by going winless in real games.  More than anything, the preseason gives fans a brief look at the starters, a longer look at backups, and an extended look at quite a few players that won't even be on the team in a few weeks.  Even with all of that being said, a win is a win, and any time the Lions get a victory it is a nice feeling.

No, it doesn't count for anything, but the Lions' comeback victory yesterday was the first time we got to celebrate after a game since the final preseason contest last year.  If they had just gone out there and won, it probably wouldn't have been too big of a deal, but the way they won was rather exciting.  Trailing 26-17 with less than three minutes remaining, Drew Stanton led the Lions to a quick touchdown when he threw a dump off pass to Aaron Brown, who showed his speed by sprinting past everyone and getting into the end zone.  After the defense did its job, the Lions got the ball back and Stanton got the team into field goal range, allowing good ol' reliable, also known as Jason Hanson, to kick a 47-yard field goal as time expired, giving Detroit a 27-26 victory.

1st Quarter

  • After a short Falcons punt, Daunte Culpepper came out and drove the Lions down the field.  It was a solid drive that included a 16-yard pass to Kevin Smith on third down, moving the chains and putting the Lions in position to score.  Culpepper then ran all the way down to the 2 before being sacked on 3rd and 1.  Culpepper faked a handoff but didn't fool a couple Falcons defenders, leading to a sack and the drive stalling.  Jason Hanson connected on a 26-yard field goal, though, giving the Lions an early 3-0 lead.
  • The Falcons' offense got rolling on its next drive with Michael Turner leading the charge.  He ended the drive with a 40-yard touchdown run that looked just like last year's Lions-Falcons game.  A couple Lions players missed tackles, allowing Turner to break free and score a touchdown.

2nd Quarter

  • After trading punts for the next few drives, Jason Elam extended Atlanta's lead by making a 46-yard field goal.
  • Daunte Culpepper went to the bench, as his day was over at this point in the game, meaning Matthew Stafford got his first shot at leading the Lions' offense.  His first play as a Lion was a play-action that ended up incomplete because of Keary Colbert, who hung him out to dry on a few occasions.  This was a great pass, but Colbert dropped it despite being wide open.  Stafford completed his next pass, hitting Derrick Williams for 10 yards, but the drive stalled when Colbert dropped a pass on third down.
  • Colbert briefly made up for his two drops by snagging a great pass down the sideline for a gain of 28 yards.  The pass was thrown on a rope, hitting Colbert in stride.  Unfortunately, Colbert went back to his old ways and dropped a long pass downfield a couple plays later, giving Stafford a look of "Are you kidding me?" on his face.  Stafford forced a pass to Colbert on the next play, and this time it was broken up because he was covered, leading to the end of another drive.

3rd Quarter

  • Stafford committed his first rookie mistake on the first drive of the second half when he threw a bad pass that was picked off and returned 42 yards for a touchdown.  I'm sure he will hear about the mistake quite a few times in film next week, as it was a pass that you just can't make.
  • Luckily Stafford shook off the mistake quickly, as he led the Lions down the field and threw a 25-yard pass to Derrick Williams for a touchdown on the next drive.  It was another great throw and a great catch by Williams, making this a 16-10 game. (Elam missed the extra point on Atlanta's last TD.)
  • The worst drive of the game for the Lions' defense wasn't even because of anything the Falcons did.  It was bad because the Lions kept shooting themselves in the foot by getting penalty after penalty.  In all, the Lions accounted for 53 of the Falcons' 67 yards, though 38 yards came on a pass interference in the end zone.  As you can probably guess, that led to a touchdown run, putting the Falcons ahead 23-10.
  • Drew Stanton came into the game and got the Lions' comeback started.  It actually looked like the drive wouldn't last for very long, but two turnovers ended up getting reversed to keep the drive alive.  The first was just a bad call by the referees on a fumble.  It wasn't even close to being one, and the Lions won the challenge to get the call overturned.  The next play, Stanton was picked off on a rather bad pass, but an interference call gave possession back to the Lions.  From there, Detroit drove down the field by running the ball, with Allen Ervin and Stanton doing a good job on the ground.  Aaron Brown capped off the drive by cutting to the outside and running by all Falcons defenders for a 32-yard touchdown.  He showed off his great speed, and this wasn't the only time we got to see it in this game.

4th Quarter

  • The final quarter of the game was rather uneventful until Jason Elam hit a 41-yard field goal to give Atlanta a 26-17 lead.  This is when the Lions started to turn up the heat, as there were less than three minutes remaining.
  • Stanton moved the Lions from their own 16 to the Falcons 45 with a nice pass to Demir Boldin, a 6-yard run, and then a 24-yard pass to Carson Butler.  The next play was all Aaron Brown, who again showed us what great speed and athleticism he has.  Brown caught a dump off pass and sprinted down the field, making a nice move to get past one defender, giving him nothing but open field.  He ran into the end zone for a 45-yard TD and did a backflip to celebrate.  The backflip earned him a penalty, but I think it was well worth it.
  • Still trailing 26-24, the Lions tried to catch the Falcons off guard by doing an onside kick.  A Falcon called timeout right before the kick, however, and Detroit decided to just boot it deep since Atlanta was expecting the onside.  The Falcons' returner, for reasons beyond me, fell down almost right after he caught the kick to avoid getting hit, which actually ended up saving the Lions a timeout since the clock stopped right before the two-minute warning.  Had this been a normal return, the two-minute warning would have come and gone, but instead the Lions were saved a timeout and quite a bit of time when the offense got the ball back.
  • With 1:36 remaining, Drew Stanton got Detroit down the field in efficient fashion.  The biggest play of the drive was on 3rd and 10 when he scrambled for 18 yards, moving the Lions into field goal range and allowing Jason Hanson to kick the game-winner from 47 yards away as time expired.  The Lions won 27-26 thanks to a solid effort by the backups, namely Drew Stanton and Aaron Brown.

The Lions will head to Cleveland next Saturday to face the Browns in their second preseason game.  Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET, and this time the game will not be blacked out.  It will still sadly be produced by WWJTV, though, so don't expect the quality to be any better than what we saw last night.

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