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Recap: Detroit Lions let early lead slip away, lose to Colts in preseason finale

The Lions go winless in the preseason, but who cares? Bring on the regular season.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Detroit Lions David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions came out on Friday night looking like a team full of player fighting for a roster spot. In easily the team’s best stretch this preseason, they jumped out to an early 14-6 lead. But as the game moved into the second half, both sides of the ball struggled, and allowed the Indianapolis Colts to mount a comeback and walk away with the meaningless victory. There were plenty of things to like about the game, but a few concerning developments, including a couple of key injuries.

Here’s how the Lions closed out the preseason with a 17-27 loss to the Colts.

First quarter

Tim Boyle trotted out to start the game for the Lions offense, despite David Blough starting in practice all week. Though he managed a quick first down pass to Quintez Cephus, the drive ended in a disaster as both Tyrell Crosby and Penei Sewell got beat around the edges and gave up a strip sack on a third-and-11.

Detroit’s defense stood tall, though. And a nice pass breakup from safety C.J. Moore forced a three-and-out from the Colts with the drive ending in a chip-shot field goal. 3-0 Colts.

Tim Boyle rebounded nicely on the next drive. The Lions quarterback went 6-for-7 for 41 yards, including four third-down conversions. Throw in a few nice runs from Jermar Jefferson and the Lions worked their way into the red zone. Quintez Cephus capped the drive with a quick slant, a broken tackle and a touchdown to give the Lions the lead. 7-3 Lions.

The Lions defense forced a second straight three-and-out thanks to a gorgeous pass breakup from Mike Ford and a quarterback hit from Charles Harris on third down.

After Boyle suffered an injury to his hand on an earlier hit, David Blough took over for the Lions offense on their third drive of the game. After a first down pickup from bubble tight end Brock Wright, the Lions couldn’t move the sticks again. A holding penalty on Quintez Cephus put them behind in downs, and a third-down draw to Jermar Jefferson fell 6 yards short, as the first quarter came to an end.

Second quarter

The Colts’ third offensive drive was much more successful. Jacob Eason chipped away at the Lions defense little by little. However, once in the red zone, the Lions defense stiffened up. Ford picked up his second pass breakup on a shot into the end zone, while A.J. Parker made an open field tackle well short of the sticks on third down. The Colts tacked on another short field goal to bring the score within one. 7-6 Lions.

Detroit countered with a decent drive of their own. After a good kick return from Godwin Igwebuike, the safety-turned-running back picked up a couple big plays on the ground, as well. Craig “Netflix” Reynolds gained 10 yards on a screen play after breaking a tackle, and Blough kept the drive alive with a nice third-down scramble that got Detroit into a first-and-goal scenario from the 5-yard line. Unfortunately, reserve tackle Dan Skipper was injured on the play and had to be carted off. For a player in the mix for a roster spot, it was a tough break for Skipper.

Blough nearly capped the drive with one hell of a run after breaking a tackle in the backfield, but upon review he was determined to be just short of the goal line. The Lions went for it on fourth down and despite his initial momentum being stopped, Igwebuike reached his hands over the goal line for another touchdown. 14-6 Lions.

The Colts were able to convert on a two-minute drill thanks largely to a 60-yard pass to Dezmon Patmon. On the play, it looked like Mike Ford thought the Lions had a sack, and lost track of the receiver, leaving him wide open.

Detroit was able to force yet another field goal attempt thanks to a sack from Kevin Strong and a brilliant stop by rookie linebacker Derrick Barnes on a screen play. The Colts would convert the field goal, bringing the score to 14-9 Lions at the half.

Third quarter

The Lions defense continued its strong night with reserve nickel cornerback Corn Elder picking off Brett Hundley on the third play of the half. The interception stood upon review, but the touchdown did not, as he was immediately down by contact.

Geronimo Allison moved the chains for the offense on a nice third-and-9 pickup. Unfortunately, Reynolds couldn’t convert a third-and-1, leaving the Lions to attempt their first field goal of the night. Zane Gonzalez stepped in and converted the 28-yard chip shot. 17-9 Lions.

The teams traded three-and-outs following the Lions’ score, but the Colts threatened to score as the game turned over into the fourth quarter.

Fourth quarter

Hundley extended the drive with his legs after Austin Bryant nearly came up with a sack. On a third-and-goal, Hundley found Deon Jackson for the short score. Looking to tie the game, the Colts went for two, and Jackson found the end zone again, this time with a rush right up the middle. 17-17.

On the ensuing possession, Blough threw an interception that wasn’t near intended receiver Damion Ratley. The pick gave Colts possession at the Lions’ 31-yard line with 11:27 left in the game.

The Lions defense wouldn’t let the Colts offense budge from there. On third down, rookie linebacker Tavante Beckett chased Hundley out of bounds short of the sticks, holding the Colts to yet another field goal. 20-17 Colts.

Detroit’s offense continued to go cold in the second half. Even worse, they suffered what could be a key injury on the offensive line reserves. Second-year guard Logan Stenberg appeared to get rolled up and limped off the field and into the locker room.

Meanwhile, the Colts essentially held the ball for the entire second half. Jackson put the game away with a 42-yard touchdown just after the two-minute warning. 27-17 Colts.