Football finally returned on Saturday night with the Detroit Lions opening the preseason against the Cleveland Browns. A lot of excitement surrounded the game because it was Johnny Manziel's NFL debut, but it turned out to be a pretty boring night, at least until the very end of the game. Neither team managed to find the end zone until the Lions scored on a touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter. The lone TD of the game proved to be enough, as the Lions won by a score of 13-12.
The Lions opened the game by winning the coin toss and taking the ball, and Jeremy Ross immediately made that a good decision. He returned the opening kickoff 49 yards to midfield, putting the offense in a good position to score some points. The Lions did end up scoring points on a 37-yard Nate Freese field goal, which came after the drive stalled on third-and-7.
Cleveland's first drive looked like it was going to result in points as well. The Browns drove into Detroit territory with ease, and they got all the way down to the Lions 39. However, the drive stalled there, and they opted to punt rather than try a long field goal.
On the second drive of the game for the Lions, most of the starters exited the field, including Matthew Stafford. This gave Dan Orlovsky a chance to make his return to the Lions official, and he didn't get off to a very good start. On third-and-20, Orlovsky blindly threw the ball up for grabs on a failed screen pass, and a tackle on a defender by Mikel Leshoure was the only thing that prevented an interception.
After the Lions punted, Cleveland took over near midfield and again quickly got into Detroit territory. The Browns' drive stalled once they got down to the Detroit 25, but a 43-yard field goal by Billy Cundiff tied things up. Cundiff was called upon again on Cleveland's next drive, which came after a quick three-and-out by the Lions, and he connected from 26 yards out. The Browns were able to drive down to the 8-yard line against the Lions' second-team defense, but nice plays by Kyle Van Noy and Cassius Vaughn forced them to settle for another field goal.
The Lions punted the ball away again on their next drive after an incompletion on third-and-1. Orlovsky was blitzed and had no chance to do anything other than throw the ball away for an incompletion, and this led to the Browns taking over and Manziel getting his first NFL action. He tried to move the chains on the ground on third-and-1 for Cleveland, but he came up short, meaning that his first drive in the NFL was a three-and-out.
The Lions took over at their own 15 and put together a nice 12-play drive before halftime. They got nice runs from Leshoure and George Winn, and Eric Ebron caught his first pass with the Lions. That reception by Ebron came up short of a first down on third-and-8, so the Lions settled for a 32-yard field goal by Freese to tie things up going into halftime.
The second half began just like the first: with a big kick return. This time the Browns were the ones responsible for the big kick return, and it gave them the ball at the Detroit 49. One first down later, the Browns were in field goal range, and they got another make from Cundiff after the drive stalled to take a 9-6 lead.
The Browns were in position to add on to their lead after a Lions punt. They got down to the Detroit 28 after Manziel moved the chains with a nice scramble on fourth-and-1, but it turned out to be all for naught. On the very next play, Jimmy Saddler-McQueen forced a fumble that was recovered by Kris Redding, giving the Lions the ball at their own 31.
After the two teams traded punts, the Lions had a fumble of their own. With Kellen Moore now in at quarterback, the Lions drove down to the Cleveland 37, but that's as far as they got. Winn continued to look impressive at running back, but he fumbled the ball away to the Browns, ending an otherwise promising drive for the Lions.
Cleveland capitalized on the turnover by adding yet another field goal. Cundiff's fourth kick of the game gave the Browns a 12-6 lead, and it looked like that might be enough for Cleveland to win. It especially looked like it might be enough after the Lions drove all the way down to the Cleveland 8-yard line only to fumble the ball away on a bad snap.
The Lions were running out of chances to find the end zone, but they got one more after a quick three-and-out by the Browns. The Lions took over at midfield thanks to a nice punt return by Steven Miller, and three penalties on the Browns moved the Lions down to the Cleveland 35. After a short pass to Quintin Payton and an 11-yard pass to Andrew Peacock, Moore found Corey Fuller in the end zone for a beautiful 21-yard touchdown. Giorgio Tavecchio made the longer-than-usual extra point, giving the Lions a 13-12 lead. That became the final score after Isa Abdul-Quddus picked off a pass in the final minute to bring the game to an end.
Next week, the Lions are headed west to take on the Oakland Raiders on Friday night. Kickoff is set for 10 p.m. ET.