Highlights, lowlights in Lions’ preseason debut
DETROIT — The Detroit Lions’ August magic didn’t carry over to 2012.
The Lions had won seven straight — and 14-of-16 — preseason games over the last four years before losing, 19-17, to the Cleveland Browns Friday night at Ford Field.
The Browns overcame a 14-3 deficit, winning on Jeff Wolfert’s 45-yard field goal with 28 seconds remaining.
Detroit finished 4-0 last year during the preseason, 3-1 in 2010, 3-1 in 2009 and 4-0 in 2008.
“We don’t use them as a barometer,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said of preseason games. “They don’t count.
“But you want to play well. We didn’t play well on offense, on defense, on special teams.”
Here is a breakdown on some of the highlights and lowlights from the opener:
* Quarterback Matthew Stafford played the first three series without producing any points.
Stafford, who completed 4-of-7 passes for 51 yards, was intercepted when he got pressured and tried to complete a pass downfield to tight end Brandon Pettigrew off his back foot.
“We’ve just got to come out with a little more energy, a little bit more urgency and execute at a higher level,” Stafford said.
As for the interception, he said, “I had to cut it loose a little earlier than I wanted to. Pettigrew and I just kind of weren’t on the same page as far as that coverage and his route. That happens.”
* Reserve running backs Keiland Williams and Joique Bell (Wayne State) were a big part of the Lions’ productive run game.
Williams finished with 71 yards and one touchdown on just nine carries, Bell had 89 yards on 16 attempts.
Schwartz didn’t have many compliments to pass out afterward, but he did praise Williams and Bell.
“Those two guys did a good job,” Schwartz said. “Both of them ran hard. Both of them fought for extra yardage.”
* Third-string quarterback Kellen Moore, an undrafted free agent from Boise State, came on late in the second quarter and played the rest of the way.
The Lions only managed a field goal while Moore was in the game. He completed only 4-of-14 passes for 40 yards. A desperation pass in the final seconds was intercepted.
“He got hit way too often,” Schwartz said. “We didn’t give him a chance out there.”
* Rookie cornerback Bill Bentley, a third-round pick from Louisiana Lafayette, got the starting assignment and had an interception to set up the Lions’ first touchdown.
Bentley had been beaten for a 34-yard reception on Cleveland’s second offensive play, but he came back to redeem himself with a solid performance.
Schwartz, who clearly expects a lot out of his rookie, said he wasn’t impressed with Bentley’s consistency.
“There’s other plays that he didn’t play well,” Schwartz said, pointing out that Bentley also dropped an interception that possibly could have been returned for a touchdown.
* The depth of the Lions’ defensive line was a major factor for quite a bit of the game.
Starting defensive ends Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch were held out, but that didn’t stop the Lions’ front four from dominating at times.
Willie Young, a seventh-round pick in 2010 out of North Carolina State, got the start on the outside and took advantage of the opportunity. He forced a fumble by quarterback Brandon Weeden and then hustled to recover the ball.
Still, Schwartz wasn’t satisfied.
“He made a couple plays,” the coach said. “But he also was out of place on a couple, too. Let’s not put him in the Hall of Fame yet.”
* The Lions gave up a 43-yard punt return in the third quarter that led to a Cleveland touchdown, cutting Detroit’s lead to 14-10. It was definitely one of the turning points.
* Jason Hanson missed wide-right on a 48-yard field-goal attempt in the first half.
Safety Amari Spievey was one of several players who weren’t in uniform.
“He had been having some headaches a couple days ago,” Schwartz said. “We sent him back to make sure they weren’t (related to a concussion Spievey suffered in the final game last season).
“It doesn’t look like they are. He should be fine going forward.”
… The crowd was announced at 58,933 (tickets sold).