If there was something I like about preseason, it would have to be the third preseason game. The Lions beat the Indianapolis Colts Saturday night 18-17 thanks in large part to consistent quarterback play from all three Lions QBs.
Daunte Culpepper got the start going 7/12 for 67 yards including a touchdown pass to new Lion wideout Bryant Johnson. Calving and Bryant, along with rookie first round pick Brandon Pettigrew all three made their first appearance for the new year. Culpepper for the most part, as he has in all of preseason, played it safe and looked like a veteran limiting mistakes and taking what the defense gave him.
Thanks in large part to feature back Kevin Smith, the Lions got things going early and often leading to strong drives.
Matthew Stafford, the rookie out of Georgia and the top overall pick in this years draft, bounced back pretty well from last week’s dismal start in Cleveland. He stepped in early second quarter and got right to work.
Stafford’s day started with a nice first drive including a terrific rope launcher to wideout Calvin Johnson which received a Lions Roar from the crowd. Brandon Pettigrew also made a few catches for a total of 24 yards. He looked fit and showed why he was a highly drafted player.
His huge frame almost mistaked my eyes for Calvin Johnson but he got downfield fairly well and what impressed me the most was his blocking. He helped open up some pretty big holes early and often against that first unit banged up Colts defense.
stafford finished an impressive 13/19 for 160 yards including a 37 yard bomb to Calvin and a 40-yard throw to rookie wideout Derrick Williams. He also threw a pick which wasn’t his fault. New Lion Bryant Johnson failed to adjust to the ball on a hail mary type heave late in the first half and NO it was not returned for six.
The defense also played fairly well. The run defense was excellent as the Colts were held to just 50 yards on 19 carries. Kevin Smith had 50 yards alone on just eight carries. The Lions pass defense also performed better then most thougth with the absence of starters Philip Buchanon and Anthony Henry due to injury.
No one really stood out on that defense but some notables were veteran linebacker Julian Peterson being everywhere for much of the first half. He finished with six tackles and helped on a couple more. DeAndre Levy, rookie third round pick out of Wisconsin, also showed flashes of why he was so highly drafted.
Levy’s four tackles was second on the team behind Peterson’s six. Larry Foote did have a sack on a well executed blitz which we should see more of come seasons start.
Marquand Manuel had the lone pick off of Curtis Painter which was also the receivers fault after a big hit and the ball popped loose right into the waiting hands of Manuel.
Overall, the Lions performed better then expected from all three phases of the game. The highlight of the special teams game was a stick up hit by seventh round draft pick Zach Follett which pleased the crowd.
The consistency on the offensive line has to be by far the biggest surprise so far this preseason. A crew that was looked down upon for decades now finally showed some promise, despite a couple of dumb penalties for personal foul and tripping. Those things should get fixed but the offensive line actually looked like a strength for the most part of that game.
The Lions allowed one sack which was on a beat up play where rookie back and first game hero Aaron Brown missed his assignment on a blitz pickup. But for the most part, the first unite O-Line looked dare I say, Great!