The Detroit Lions made a late comeback to beat the Cleveland Browns last week, and there was another late comeback this week against the Oakland Raiders. Unfortunately for the Lions, they were on the wrong end of the comeback on Friday night. The Lions looked like they were going to keep Oakland out of the end zone to preserve their 26-20 lead, but instead, a touchdown with six seconds left gave the Raiders a 27-26 victory.
Unlike the preseason opener, the Lions didn't have to wait until the end of the fourth quarter for a touchdown this week. Eight plays into the opening drive of the game, Matt Schaub was picked off by James Ihedigbo on a pass that was deflected by Rashean Mathis. Ihedigbo took the interception back 38 yards to the Oakland 36, and Matthew Stafford found a wide open Golden Tate for a 28-yard touchdown two plays later.
After a quick three-and-out by the Raiders, the Lions put together another scoring drive. This time, they went 58 yards over the course of 11 plays and 6:43. The drive was extended at one point with a 23-yard pass to Eric Ebron on third-and-8, and the Lions managed to find the end zone despite later facing second-and-goal from the 20. A 16-yard pass to Kevin Ogletree put the Lions in position to score, and Kris Durham made a stellar catch on the next play for a touchdown. He took the ball out of the air, and suddenly the Lions had a 13-0 lead. (Nate Freese missed his 33-yard extra point attempt after the first touchdown, but he made it after the second score.)
After the two teams combined for back-to-back three-and-outs, the Raiders took over with their sights set on scoring some points of their own. It looked like they were going to have to settle for only three points after electing to kick a field goal on fourth-and-2 from the 37, but a Lions penalty for too many men on the field kept the drive alive. The Lions gave Oakland another free first down via a penalty on third-and-8 later in the drive, and the Raiders eventually scored a touchdown on a 1-yard run by Darren McFadden.
Following another Lions three-and-out (now with the second-team offense in the game), the Raiders again put some points on the board. This time, they did in fact have to settle for a field goal after a close play in the end zone on third-and-2 was ruled incomplete. The Raiders challenged the call, but the ruling was upheld, making this a 13-10 game in favor of the Lions after the field goal. (Earlier in the game, by the way, Jim Caldwell was successful on his first challenge as head coach of the Lions. He challenged the spot on a punt, and it turned out that the officials gave the Raiders around seven yards too many on the original call.)
On their final drive of the first half, the Lions took a 16-10 lead on a 55-yard field goal by Freese that was kicked from the dirt portion of the field. The Lions added the three points despite the offensive line doing its best to take the team out of field goal range. That was really the theme of the entire drive. Penalties and very little protection for Dan Orlovsky made it tough to move the ball, but a 23-yard pass to Jeremy Ross and a nice 34-yard reception by Ryan Broyles got the Lions into position to add some points before halftime.
The Lions added more points on their first drive of the second half. Ross opened the drive with a 19-yard reception, and Theo Riddick later picked up 36 yards with some great moves on a screen. After a 15-yard pass to Corey Fuller, George Winn scored from a yard out to give the Lions a 23-10 lead.
After the two teams traded punts, the Raiders put together another scoring drive of their own. The drive actually should have been a three-and-out, but an extremely questionable spot on third-and-5 gave the Raiders a first down, even after Caldwell challenged the ruling (it was upheld, amazingly). The Raiders then attacked the Lions through the air with passes that went for 29 and 38 yards. This put them on the three-yard line, and Derek Carr found Jake Murphy for a touchdown on the very next play.
The Raiders continued to cut into the Lions' lead after a Detroit three-and-out. Kellen Moore came in for the Lions at quarterback, and the Raiders actually brought a couple starters back into the game on defense. Things didn't go well for the Lions, and the Raiders capitalized by returning the ensuing punt 51 yards to the Detroit 23. Oakland was unable to turn the big return into a touchdown, but a field goal made this a 23-20 game.
The Lions answered with a field goal of their own on a 14-play drive that covered 76 yards and took 6:32 off the clock. Moore made several good throws on this possession, and he got the Lions all the way down inside the 10-yard line. The drive stalled there, but Giorgio Tavecchio connected on a field goal from 25 yards out to put the Lions on top by six points.
The Raiders responded by nearly taking the lead despite losing Carr to an injury after he got drilled by Larry Webster. There probably should have been a fumble on the play, but the officials ruled it incomplete, and the Lions didn't have any challenges left. With the Raiders keeping the ball, Matt McGloin came into the game and quickly led the offense down the field. He had a 29-yard pass that got the Raiders into Detroit territory, and it looked like a 24-yard pass to Scott Simonson was going to go for a touchdown. Before Simonson was able to get into the end zone, however, he was drilled by DeJon Gomes, who forced the ball loose. Brandon Hepburn fell on it for a fumble recovery, giving the Lions possession and keeping them ahead, 26-20.
Unable to do anything following the turnover, the Lions punted the ball away after going three-and-out. This gave the Raiders one more chance to rally back from their 26-20 deficit in the last couple minutes, and rally back they did. McGloin led the Raiders down the field on a 13-play drive and connected with Brice Butler for a 19-yard touchdown pass with only six seconds left on the clock. Sebastian Janikowski nailed the extra point, giving the Raiders a 27-26 lead and the victory.
The Lions will be back at home next week for their "dress rehearsal" for the regular season. Their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars is set to kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Aug. 22.