The Detroit Lions 2016 preseason is off to a pretty good start. Though there were some bumps along the way, the Lions mostly controlled the play for all four quarter, eventually winning 30-17.
The first-team offense played for just one series. It was a “good news, bad news” situation for Matthew Stafford and the Lions offense. Stafford looked fairly poised in the pocket and completed 4-6 passes for 59 yards. One of his bigger plays came when he connected with newly signed receiver Anquan Boldin:
30-yard catch ✔️— NFL (@NFL) August 12, 2016
Breaking tackles ✔️
Yep, Anquan Boldin is going to fit in just fine with the @Lions. #DETvsPIT https://t.co/TLbN5MpD6g
The bad news was exactly as expected: the offensive line. Several Steelers defenders shot into the backfield unblocked, and it eventually cost the Lions. Rookie left tackle Taylor Decker, who was penalized on the previous play, allowed James Harrison to beat him on the edge and strip sack Stafford on third down. That would end the first-team offense’s night.
The line was no better in run blocking, as Theo Riddick — the starting running back while Ameer Abdullah remains sidelined — finished with just 15 yards on four carries.
The first-team defense fared much better. The Steelers failed to convert a first down in their first three drives — sans Ben Roethlisberger — and only had 15 yards in the entire first quarter. Devin Taylor looked particularly impressive, tallying one sack and a tackle in his limited time on the field.
Steelers offense through three series: Seven net yards, no first downs. Landry Jones 2-of-5 for 6 yards. https://t.co/kU2f6f2bif— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) August 12, 2016
After the second team took the field, the Lions offense shot themselves in the foot. Dan Orlovsky’s first drive ended when a beautifully thrown pass was dropped by Jeremy Kerley. In his next drive, an under-duress Orlovsky tried to throw the ball away but ended up throwing it right to Steelers cornerback Doran Grant, who returned it for an easy touchdown.
When you try to throw it away, but you end up throwing it to the other team for a pick six...#DETvsPIT https://t.co/y8gIcLZxev— NFL (@NFL) August 12, 2016
After that, the Lions and Steelers traded scores. Landry Jones of the Steelers completed a bomb to Darrius Heyward-Bey with Crezdon Butler in tight coverage and then Orlovsky connected with Andre Roberts for an easy score later in the second quarter. The first half ended with the Lions out-gaining the Steelers in yardage, 260 to 81, but trailing Pittsburgh 14-13.
The second half — like it tends to be in the preseason — was pretty uneventful. Jake Rudock played the entire second half for Detroit, leading the team to a field goal early in the third quarter. The Steelers quickly answered with a field goal of their own, but Dwayne Washington made sure that lead wouldn’t stick for long:
Dwayne Washington: 96-yards to the house! #DETvsPIT https://t.co/B2Kubrt23D— NFL (@NFL) August 13, 2016
The Lions seventh-round pick made the play of the day with the 96-yard kickoff return, giving the Lions the lead for good.
But the Lions weren’t done. Pride Of Detroit Name Bracket Champion Jace Billingsley would add another touchdown with an impressive 27-yard catch-and-scamper.
Jace Billingsley, the Pride of @PrideOfDetroit #Lions pic.twitter.com/evi0LPot47— Ryan (@Ryan_POD) August 13, 2016
In terms of injuries, linebacker Zaviar Gooden was sidelined after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit from teammate Isaiah Johnson. We don’t know the severity of the injury yet, but he was going through the concussion protocol in the third quarter. However, Detroit escaped the game mostly unscathed and that was essentially the most important thing to come from Friday’s game. The fact that the Lions looked decent was a nice cherry on top.