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Lions-Texans final score: First-team offense stumbles, defense rebounds as Lions lose 30-23

Josh Johnson had a rough Lions debut.

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NFL: Preseason-Detroit Lions at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions looked a little better on Saturday night, rebounding nicely after a rough outing against the New England Patriots last week. Though the first quarter was just as rough as their first game, the defense settled in, and the offense even showed signs of potency in the second half.

In the end, it wasn’t enough to get the win, but Detroit certainly looked more competitive in their 30-23 loss to the Houston Texans on Saturday night. Here’s how it happened.

First quarter

With much of the Lions’ first-string defense on the field—at least those that were healthy—Detroit didn’t look very promising on its opening drive. Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson went 5-for-7 for 60 yards and a score, as Houston quickly found the end zone. The Lions struggled in generating any pressure, and the one time they did force a fourth down, the Texans went for it and converted (Lions also had too many men on the field). 7-0 Texans.

It turns out Matthew Stafford would not play, meaning veteran Josh Johnson—signed just last week—got the start for Detroit. New quarterback, but the results were the same as Week 1 of the preseason. Johnson was sacked on his first dropback of the game after failing to get rid of the ball on a three-step drop. Johnson couldn’t connect with Chris Lacy on third-and-long and the Lions punted without gaining a first down.

After a short punt from Sam Martin, the Texans’ second-string offense took over under Joe Webb III. The Lions’ defense was a little more stout, allowing just one first down before stiffening up. However, thanks to the poor punt, Houston tacked on a 50-yard field goal. 10-0 Texans.

From there, the teams would trade three straight three-and-outs. Johnson struggled to get anything going, as he failed to complete a single pass in the opening quarter.

Second quarter

The Lions offense finally got a little spark when Johnson went deep for Lewis. The pass wasn’t completed, but a 42-yard pass interference penalty had Detroit in field goal range. A strange personal foul penalty on T.J. Hockenson set them back, but Johnson gained enough of it back to get the Lions back in field goal range, and Matt Prater was true from 49 yards. 10-3 Texans.

A few possessions later the Lions defense would tie it up. Romeo Okwara punched out the ball from Steven Mitchell Jr.’s arms, and Will Harris was in the right spot at the right time and returned it 19 yards. 10-10.

The Texans threatened to respond after an Amani Oruwariye pass interference set them up first-and-goal. But safety Andrew Adams would save the day with the Lions’ first interception of the preseason:

The Lions would quickly give it back, however, after a Luke Bowanko snap went over Josh Johnson’s head and the Texans would recover near midfield. Webb would strike quickly just before the end of the half with a deep touchdown on a ball that Adams badly misjudged. 17-10 Texans.

Detroit would try to run a 40-second drill, but a bad interception from Johnson essentially ended the half.

Third quarter

Josh Johnson continued to hold the reigns of the Lions offense at the start of the second half, but he still struggled to create any rhythm. The Lions went three and out yet again, the fifth time up until this point in the game:

The Texans would quickly get into field goal range but nothing more. 20-10 Texans.

David Fales came in the game next, and immediately made two of the best plays the Lions offense has had all preseason. First, he lofted a ball to rookie Travis Fulgham, who made an incredible play on the ball for a 35-yard catch. Two players later, Fales tossed a perfect pass to Andy Jones for 48 yards, setting up the Lions first-and-goal from the Texans 5-yard line.

A beautiful play action pass to Zach Zenner would net the Lions their first offensive touchdown of the preseason:

Zenner couldn’t find the end zone on the two-point conversion. 20-16 Texans.

Webb couldn’t get anything going for the Texans, so Fales would trot the Lions offense back out there midway through the third down just four. But a myriad of penalties on the third-string offensive line sent the Lions farther backwards than forwards. A blindside block from Oday Aboushi was the official nail in the drive’s coffin.

Fourth quarter

Houston would respond with a long, methodical drive that attacked the center of Detroit’s defense. The Texans ran the ball eight times for 52 yards, including a one-yard score from Greg Howell. 27-16 Texans.

But Fales would continue to look in command of the offense. He completed passes of 21, 17, 15 and 7 yards, bringing the Lions all the way to the goal line. Mark Thompson would punch it in from there. 27-23 Texans.

The Texans continued to run the ball successfully against Detroit’s reserves, but the Lions stood strong just in the nick of time. Houston stalled out at the Lions’ 39-yard line, giving David Fales an opportunity to conduct a game-winning drive with just under three minutes left. Unfortunately, a few dropped passes prevented Detroit from even passing the 50-yard line.

The Texans would add a field goal before the night was through, but the final score would end up 30-23 Texans.

It was far from a perfect game for Detroit, and the start was certainly concerning, both for the first-team defense and Josh Johnson and the offense, but at least the deep reserves showed some signs of life.


It’s still unclear whether the starters will play much for the Detroit Lions, but it looks like we may get some Matthew Stafford for the first time in 2019.

Obviously players like Marvin Jones Jr., Damon Harrison Sr., Trey Flowers and many more are not expected to play as those players are still slowly working their way back from injury.

Kickoff is at 8 p.m. ET. So stay tuned for live updates!

We’re a week closer to Detroit Lions regular season football, and that is good news no matter how you look at it. Football is better than no football, which technically means preseason football is also better than no football.

Saturday night, the Lions will take on the Houston Texans for their second exhibition game, marking the halfway point in the preseason. Fans are eager to see some of the starters take a few snaps—unlike the preseason opener—but there is no indication yet from the coaching staff that they’ll risk putting guys like Matthew Stafford, Kerryon Johnson or Kenny Golladay out there against a good Texans defense.

Still, fans should be interested in seeing whether the Lions’ depth can bounce back after a rough performance against the Patriots last week. If you’re not doing anything else on a Saturday night, here’s how to watch Detroit’s second preseason game of the 2019 season.

How to watch Lions vs. Texans

Date: Saturday, August 17, 2019
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Location: NRG Stadium — Houston, TX
TV channel: FOX 2 Detroit
Announcers: Fred McLeod, Chris Spielman, Tori Petry

Other local broadcast markets (via 506 sports)

  • WNEM (CBS/5 - Saginaw)
  • WSYM (FOX/47 - Lansing)
  • WXMI (FOX/17 - Grand Rapids)
  • WFQX (FOX/32 - Traverse City MI)
  • WUPW (FOX/36 - Toledo OH)
  • WJMN (CBS/3 - Escanaba MI)

Texas markets

  • KTRK (ABC/13 - Houston)
  • WOAI (NBC/4 - San Antonio)
  • KVUE (ABC/24 - Austin)
  • KFDM (CBS/6 - Beaumont TX)
  • KETK (NBC/56 - Tyler TX)
  • KCEN (NBC/6 - Waco TX)
  • KAGS (NBC/23 - Bryan TX)
  • KVCT (CW/19.3 - Victoria TX)
  • KZTV (CBS/10 - Corpus Christi TX)
  • KGBT (CBS/4 - Harlingen TX)
  • KXVA (FOX/15 - Abilene TX)
  • KIDY (FOX/6 - San Angelo TX)
  • KPEJ (FOX/24 - Odessa TX)
  • KYLX (CBS/13 - Laredo TX)
  • KDBC (CBS/4 - El Paso)

Online streaming: NFL Game Pass (free seven-day trial)
Local radio: WJR-AM NEWS TALK 760
Radio announcers: Dan Miller, Lomas Brown