The Detroit Lions may have won their first preseason game on Friday night, but it’s unlikely they’ll come out feeling pretty good about their performance. The first stringers played over a half of football and by the time they left, they were losing 27-6 and getting worked by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reserve players.
But to their credit, the Lions’ backups put in strong efforts late in the game and managed to pull off the last-minute win, 33-30. Here’s your recap:
The Bucs started with the ball, and without much pushback from the Lions, they took the opening drive with a touchdown. The Bucs went eight plays without an incomplete pass or a negative run for 66 yards, capped by an 14-yard touchdown run by Peyton Barber after Jarrad Davis missed a tackle in the backfield. 7-0 Bucs.
jarrad davis whiffs on a tfl and barber beats everyone else for a touchdown pic.twitter.com/AMBMIOGgLO— Mansur (@MansurShaheen) August 25, 2018
Detroit’s offense came out with a different look than normal. With T.J. Lang still out, Kenny Wiggins was in the game... at left guard. First round rookie Frank Ragnow started at right guard, a position he has not played much at all this camp.
Thanks to a big play to Kenny Golladay, the Lions quickly got into the red zone, but stalled thanks to two failed run plays. 7-3 Bucs.
Tampa looked like they were going to repeat their offensive performance all over again after big gains through the air—mostly against Nevin Lawson. However, Sylvester Williams picked up a red zone sack, Mike Evans was called for pass interference, and the Lions managed to keep Tampa out of field goal range. Unfortunately, the Bucs were able to pin the Lions deep with a perfect punt.
Detroit’s offense rose to the occasion. Thanks to a clutch third-down pickup by Hakeem Valles, and a huge pass interference call drawn by TJ Jones, the Lions worked their way into the red zone.
But again, the Lions struggled to move the ball in goal-to-go situations. Ameer Abdullah was stopped for no gain on first down, while Stafford couldn’t find an open receiver on second and third down. Bucs 7-6.
It finally looked like the Lions defense had settled in and forced the Bucs offense—led by Jameis Winston for the first time—into a three-and-out. Unfortunately, a defensive holding on Tavon Wilson wiped out a drive-ending sack, and Winston would lead the Bucs to their second touchdown of the day (extra point missed). 13-6 Bucs.
With Kerryon Johnson in the game, the Lions offense quickly went three-and-out despite a good first-down run from Johnson. A miscommunication between Graham Glasgow and Leo Koloamatangi allowed a free runner to take Stafford down on third down.
The teams traded failed attempts at late-half drives, but the Lions had one more chance driving late. After another third-down sack, the Lions lined up for a 62-yard field goal.
Then this happened:
Things did not get any better in the second half. The Lions brought out their first string offense and defense to start the third quarter, and they continued to struggled... but against second and third stringers on Tampa’s side. After a quick, unsuccessful offensive series, the Lions defense allowed someone named Ryan Griffin score a quick touchdown against... you guessed it—Nevin Lawson. 27-6 Bucs.
With Matt Cassel in the game and the rest of the second-team offense, things actually looked significantly better. Thanks to solid run blocking, Detroit was able to move the ball downfield efficiently. Theo Riddick capped off the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run that was perfectly blocked. 27-13 Bucs.
After a quick three-and-out forced by the Lions defense, Cassel moved the Lions downfield again. Though he was aided by an illegal formation on a missed Ryan Santoso, giving the Lions extra life. LeGarrette Blount used his strength to pick up a fourth-and-1. A few plays later, the Lions would punch it in with a 3-yard pass from Cassel to Bradley Marquez. 27-20 Bucs.
The Bucs would add a field goal, but the comeback was on after Brandon Powell had this impressive 80-yard punt return touchdown.
Then it was Jake Rudock’s turn to cap the comeback. With over three minutes left in the game, the Lions’ third-string quarterback dinked and dunked his way down field with little resistance. With 30 seconds remaining Rudock found tight end Marcus Lucas for a 5-yard score, giving the Lions their first lead of the game. Lions 33, Bucs 30.
The Bucs had a chance to score late, but couldn’t get it across midfield and Lions rookie Tracy Walker had the game-ending interception.
The players are back on the field, but don’t expect the Lions’ newest addition to take the field. Chris Burke of the Athletic is reporting Eli Harold is not dressed for tonight’s game.
UPDATE: Kickoff has been moved to 8:59 p.m. ET because of the weather.
Lions-Bucs kickoff rescheduled for 8:59 p.m. ET, per @PewterReport.— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurkeNFL) August 25, 2018
As the Detroit Lions take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, we’ll be giving you live updates as they come in.
We don’t know yet what Lions players won’t play in this game, but the Bucs have already released who will not dress:
The weather conditions at Tampa are not being cooperative. There’s apparently lightning around the stadium and fans were asked to seek shelter in the concourse. We could be headed for a delay to start the game:
35 minutes till kickoff in Tampa and ehhhhhhhh pic.twitter.com/Uji5IXP6Rp— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurkeNFL) August 24, 2018
The Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are two franchises that know each other well. Not only are the two former divisional rivals, but they’ve faced off several times in recent history. The Lions and Bucs have played each other three times in the past five seasons, most recently having played last season.
The two teams will reunite on that same field, with the Lions having won four of the past five regular season matchups between the two.
Of course, this one won’t go down in the record books, but the third preseason game is always the most important for teams. Coaches try to establish a somewhat familiar regular season schedule throughout the week, including film study sessions and game planning.
It’s also the game that typically features the team’s starters for the longest, so we’ll get to see some prime Matthew Stafford vs. Jameis Winston action. Which quarterback can consume the most consonants? We’ll see Friday night.
Perhaps the best thing about Friday night’s game between the former NFC Central foes is that it is nationally televised. If you’re in the United States, and you have access to CBS, you can catch the Lions’ dress rehearsal.
Here are the details:
How to watch
Date: Friday, August 24, 2018
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Location: Raymond James Stadium—Tampa Bay, FL
Nationally televised: CBS (no local broadcast)
Online streaming: NFL Game Pass (free 7-day trial),
Announcers: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Bruce Arians, Melanie Collins
Local radio: WJR-AM NEWS TALK 760
Radio announcers: Dan Miller, Lomas Brown
(None listed yet. Will update if some are added.)