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Detroit Lions’ preseason opener marred by injuries, ugly play—lose to Patriots 31-3

Providing live updates as the Lions take on the Patriots in the preseason opener.

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New England Patriots v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

There’s no doubt about it, the Detroit Lions did not kick off the preseason the way they would’ve liked. Though most of the starters did not make an appearance on Thursday night against the New England Patriots, the backups looked lifeless and overmatched.

Detroit’s offense remained without a pulse the entire game as the offensive line struggled, and the defense didn’t look much better, either.

Even worse, the Lions suffered a handful of injuries that could impact the team’s long-term depth this season. In the end, Detroit dropped their preseason opener 31-3. Here’s how it happened.

First half

The Detroit Lions took the ball first, but there weren’t a lot of starters out there. Tom Savage brought the offense out there that only featured starters on the offensive line. No Kerryon Johnson. No Marvin Jones or Kenny Golladay or Danny Amendola. As for the starting offensive line, it was Kenny Wiggins and Graham Glasgow at the guard positions.

Savage made a nice throw, threading two Patriots defenders on a third-and-9 play for a 24-yard gain to Brandon Powell. Unfortunately, that would be pretty much it on the drive as a holding penalty erased a 12-yard run for Ty Johnson. More importantly, Jermaine Kearse suffered what appeared to be a very serious leg injury that caused him to leave on a cart with an aircast.

The Lions defense responded nicely, by forcing the Patriots punt after just one first down. Jamal Agnew batted down a third-down pass to force the ball back to the Lions offense.

Unfortunately, the Lions wouldn’t do much with it. Though they gained one first down, Savage then took back-to-back sacks, ending the drive and Savage’s night. He got up slow after the second sack and went straight into the locker room.

A short punt and a decent return later and the Patriots were in business. Just six plays later, Brian Hoyer would find Maurice Harris for a 14-yard touchdown. Amani Oruwariye was in coverage but lost sight of the ball completely. 7-0 Patriots.

With Savage out, the Lions’ third-string quarterback, David Fales, stepped in near the end of the first quarter. Detroit offense quickly went three-and-out and gave the ball back to New England.

Second quarter

Hoyer would lead the Patriots on their second touchdown drive of the first half. He connected with Jakobi Meyers for a 3-yard score. Miles Killebrew was in coverage. 14-0 Patriots.

Unfortunately for Detroit, that drive, too, cost them another injury. Defensive tackle Darius Kilgo went down with what appeared to be a lower-body injury and was helped off the field and straight into the locker room. The Lions are already shorthanded at defensive tackle with Damon Harrison Sr., Mike Daniels and Ray Smith dealing with injuries this training camp.

On the first play of the ensuing drive, Fales threw a ball directly into the hands of Patriots defensive end John Simon, and the Patriots were in business yet again. Hoyer would throw his third touchdown pass of the game, connecting with Meyers yet again for a 5-yard score. Mike Ford was a step behind in coverage. The Patriots went for two, but Hoyer could not find anyone open in coverage. 20-0 Patriots.

The offense continued to struggle, as the second-team offensive line gave up back-to-back sacks yet again. Ball quickly back to New England, as the Patriots got to try their hand at a two-minute drill.

With Jarrett Stidham now in the game, the Patriots were threatening to score again. But a holding penalty would cause them to settle for a 37-yard field goal attempt. Because Ford Field has the best field goal defense, the Patriots missed it, keeping the score at 20-0 as the teams went to halftime.




Third quarter

The teams would trade a few punts to start the half, but it was the Patriots that got on the board first in the second half. An 11-play, 61-yard drive was capped by a 1-yard touchdown run, and this time the Patriots converted on the two-point conversion. 28-0 Patriots.

As the third quarter rolled on, the injuries continued to mount for the Lions. Zach Zenner went into the medical tent and did not return to the game. Rookie P.J. Johnson also headed into the injury with an undisclosed injury. Johnson would return to the game, thankfully.

The offense continued to struggle behind a line that couldn’t protect Fales, and the quarter ended with some ugly, ugly stats.

Fourth quarter

After a nice run stop by Miles Killebrew and an incomplete pass on third down, the Patriots were forced to kick a field goal. This time, they converted. 31-0 Patriots.

BUT THE DETROIT LIONS WOULD NOT BE DENIED.... FOR AN ENTIRE FOUR QUARTERS. Thanks to a big play to Tom Kennedy, the Lions finally found their way into Patriots territory. The Lions would quickly stall out there, as Chase Winovich continued to eat the Lions’ lunch. But Ryan Santoso would finally get the Lions off the schneid with a 37-yard field goal. 31-3 Patriots.

It was an ugly day for the Lions, but the good news is that it didn’t matter and Detroit can move onto the next one. Hopefully we’ll get good news regarding the several injuries throughout the game. Otherwise... onto Houston.


Matthew Stafford doesn’t appear to be going through many, if any, warmups. It’s probably a safe bet that the Lions’ starting quarterback will not play a series on Thursday night. Elsewhere, The Athletic’s Chris Burke has the players in street clothes:

We could be in for a barebones game full of backups and third stringers. Stay tuned.

The first Detroit Lions preseason game of the 2019 season is just hours away. And while preseason football only loosely resembles the actual thing, there’s something special about that opening game that really gets the blood flowing.

It’s our first real look at the 2019 team and their new additions. T.J. Hockenson, Jesse James, Trey Flowers, Mike Daniels, Justin Coleman, Jahlani Tavai, Rashaan Melvin and many more are expected to make their Lions debut on Thursday night, and I don’t think I could be more excited for an opening preseason game.

And what better team to face off against than the reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots?

So if you’re as pumped as I am, you’re certainly going to want to tune in on Thursday night. Here’s how you can catch the preseason opener.

How to watch Lions vs. Patriots

Date: Thursday, August 8, 2019
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Ford Field — Detroit, MI
TV channel: FOX 2 Detroit
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)

Online streaming: NFL Game Pass (free seven-day trial)
Announcers: Fred McLeod, Chris Spielman, Tori Petry
Local radio: WJR-AM NEWS TALK 760
Radio announcers: Dan Miller, Lomas Brown