The Detroit Lions offense didn’t show much of any life against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the team’s second preseason opener. Though the team opted to start newly-added Teddy Bridgewater with the second-team offense out there, the veteran quarterback was held scoreless—and they couldn’t even manage a first down in their first four drives.
Things didn’t get much better when Nate Sudfeld took over at the end of the second quarter, almost immediately throwing an interception that quickly led to a Jaguars touchdown.
Overall, it was an uninspiring performance from the offense, but quite literally every starter did not play in the game—including rookies Jahmyr Gibbs and Sam LaPorta. Still, finishing the game with just 131 net yards is a pretty poor performance across the board.
On the defensive side of the ball, it was a mixed bag. Detroit racked up a lot of tackles for loss, but they also gave up a fair amount of big plays.
In the end, the Lions dropped the game 25-7. Here’s how it all happened.
Somewhat surprisingly, Teddy Bridgewater got the start for the Lions offense, who took the field first. Unfortunately, it was short lived, as a sack and a false start set up a third-and-20. After scrambling and almost getting sacked again, Bridgewater threw it away for a three-and-out.
The Jaguars, too, went three-and-out with C.J. Beathard starting the game at quarterback. Romeo Okwara helped draw a holding penalty, and a draw play on third-and-long came up well short.
After a nice punt return from Chase Cota, Bridgewater took back over at his own 42-yard line. The good field position proved irrelevant, as the Lions went three-and-out again. Bridgewater badly missed tight end Brock Wright for what would have been an easy third-down conversion.
Jacksonville got on the board first. Bolstered by a 48-yard pass to Tim Jones over Steven Gilmore, the Jaguars were quickly into Lions territory.
But Gilmore rebounded nicely by batting a ball away from Jacob Harris on a third-and-9 to force a field goal attempt. Brandon McManus was good from 40. 3-0 Jaguars.
Detroit got another solid special teams play as Starling Thomas V took the ensuing kickoff to the Lions’ 42-yard line. It looked like the Lions offense was finally able to move the sticks with an impressive 11-yard fingertip catch from Chase Cota, but review showed he didn’t get a second foot inbounds and the call was overturned for yet another three-and-out.
The Lions defense responded with a turnover. Tracy Walker anticipated a deep pass, cut in front of it, and while he couldn’t corral the interception, the ball bounced to Gilmore, who returned it to the Jaguars’ 43-yard line.
But Jacksonville would get the ball right back after Bridgewater fumbled on a draw play that was blown up before the exchange could even happen.
Man… check the get off and burst from Jags NG Jeremiah Ledbetter to help cause the fumble here. (Yes I know he was let free but still impressive!) pic.twitter.com/YfTLVZUBJs— Alex King (@AKing_Evals) August 19, 2023
As the first quarter came to an end, the Lions defense got another stop, forcing a fourth-and-3 for the Jaguars.
Jacksonville opted to go for on fourth down, but John Cominsky batted the pass down at the line of scrimmage, giving the ball back to Detroit.
But Detroit’s offense remained in neutral. After one first down, Bridgewater failed to connect with Cota on a third down with pressure bearing down on the quarterback.
Despite a couple tackles for loss from James Houston and a sack via John Cominsky, the Jaguars offense was able to muster a long, solid drive. But it stalled in the red zone, and the Jaguars again had to settle for three. 6-0 Jaguars.
The two teams shared punts on the next two drives, setting up Nate Sudfeld for a two-minute drill from his own 6-yard line on his first drive of the game. After a couple of first downs, Sudfeld overthrew Cota by a country mile, and the pass was easily intercepted.
Jacksonville cashed in for the first touchdown of the day three plays later when receiver Parker Washington beat out Starling Thomas for a 15-yard gain. Beathard threw away a pass on the two-point conversion attempt after solid coverage from Detroit. 12-0 Jaguars
Jacksonville started with a three-and-out on offense after a pair of run stops by Romeo Okwara and a third-down sack from Houston.
Just as it looked like the Lions offense was going to be stuck in neutral again, Sudfeld laid a beautiful pass to Drummond for a 23-yard gain. Antoine Green followed that up with an 18-yard, heads-up play—getting up from the ground after a Jaguars defender failed to touch him. A few plays later on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, the Lions pulled off a perfect play-action pass to wide open Chase Cota. 12-7 Jaguars.
The Jaguars, led by third string quarterback Nathan Rourke, struck back. Aided by a roughing the passer penalty on Brady Breeze, Jacksonville quickly found themselves in the red zone. D’Ernest Johnson punched it in from the 1-yard line to make it 18-7 Jaguars (missed extra point). On this drive, Lions safety Saivion Smith suffered a leg injury, and did not return.
Detroit’s offensive woes continued with yet another three-and-out. Drummond had an opportunity to extend the drive, but couldn’t complete the process of a catch on a contested pass.
Jaguars receiver Elijah Cooks exploded with a big play to end the third quarter, beating Lions cornerback Colby Richardson on a slant and stiff-arming Brandon Joseph for a 48-yard gain.
A few plays into the fourth quarter, Johnson bounced a run outside for a 15-yard touchdown and a 25-7 Jaguars lead.
Not too many notable things happened in the final quarter, as the teams traded punts and the Lions offense continued to get anything going. Eventually the Jaguars would just run out the clock.
The Lions only have one more preseason game before turning the page to regular season mode. They will close out the exhibition season on Friday, August 25 against the Carolina Panthers.