Welcome back, football. And welcome back to the win column, Detroit Lions. They got the 2013 preseason started on Friday night with a 26-17 victory over the New York Jets. It's only the preseason, yes, but it's nice to be talking about a Lions victory for a change after how the 2012 season came to a close.
The Lions actually got Friday night started with an exciting play from the first-round pick their 4-12 season helped them obtain in April. Just four plays after a Lions punt, Mark Sanchez was pressured and threw a screen pass right to Ziggy Ansah. Without any hesitation, Ansah caught the ball and ran 14 yards into the end zone for a touchdown. Not a bad way to begin your NFL career.
Following a Jets punt on the next drive, the Lions quickly moved down the field on passes of 28 and 22 yards from Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson. That was all they could manage to do, though, so the Lions had to settle for a 47-yard David Akers field goal.
Sanchez rebounded from his sluggish start -- he nearly threw another pick six to Glover Quin, who got drilled and couldn't hang on -- with a solid drive. The Lions' pass defense made things easy on him, and the Jets marched right down the field. They scored on a 26-yard pass from Sanchez to Jeff Cumberland, cutting the lead down to three points.
With most of the starters out of the game by this point, the Lions and Jets traded punts on the next four drives. Then, midway through the second quarter, Shaun Hill got the Lions moving through the air. He found Terrence Austin for 19 yards, and then Matt Willis made an outstanding catch on the sideline for a gain of 27. The play was originally ruled an incompletion, but a challenge got the call reversed. Three plays later, on third-and-2, Hill found Willis in the end zone for a ridiculous 15-yard touchdown. The Lions went up 17-7, and they took a 20-7 lead into the half after Akers later connected on a 35-yard field goal.
The second half opened with more punts before the Jets put together another touchdown drive. Greg McElroy, who entered the game after Geno Smith left with an ankle injury, led the Jets down the field with some big plays. He had passes of 20 and 24 yards before finding Zach Rogers for an 11-yard touchdown.
The Lions responded by going three-and-out, but the defense came up with a big turnover on its first play of the ensuing possession. Devin Taylor had a strip-sack, and Ronnell Lewis fell on the ball. The Lions weren't able to capitalize on the great field position with a touchdown thanks to another three-and-out, but Havard Rugland nailed a 49-yard field goal.
After a 51-yard kick by the Jets' Nick Folk, Kickalicious made another field goal, this time from 50 yards out. The kick put the Lions on top 26-17, and that is what the final score ended up being after an uneventful final 10 minutes of the game.
All things considered, this was a solid start to the preseason for the Lions. We'll dive into what happened on Friday night in the coming days, as will the Lions. Then we'll all turn our attention to next Thursday's preseason game at the Cleveland Browns.