I’m not one to make much of the outcome of a preseason game but Saturday’s 25-20 win leaves a better taste than the loss in Pittsburgh.
It was really nice to see the positives from the game against the Steelers show themselves again.
Matthew Stafford looked decisive and precise in spreading the ball between seven different receivers. His touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson was a thing of beauty. If they can do things like that consistently then the offense will be hard to stop. They will need to punch the ball in the end zone more often than they did tonight but hey, it’s preseason, they have to have something to work on in practice.
Jahvid Best flashed his speed once again and showed some toughness and ability to run between the tackles. The offense has a different vibe when Best is on the field. I still think Kevin Smith will play a big role on this team but is becoming very clear that Jahvid Best is the number one back.
The front four on the defensive side dominated another offensive line. Kyle Vanden Bosch was the star again as he routinely got to the quarterback for a sack, knock down, or hurry. He probably got a little overagressive when he was flagged for a face mask penalty but you have to love that motor. The “role model” nature of a veteran player is probably overstated but I don’t think that is the case with Vanden Bosch. He talks it and walk it on every down. Ndamukong Suh had to deal with double teams once again but was able to make his presence known by getting a hand up in the passing game.
While the defensive line was making big plays, the secondary was giving up big plays. Cornerback Eric King looked like he shouldn’t be anywhere near an NFL field as Jabar Gaffney hauled in some passes that King never even looked for. Add a pass interference call and it was a night to forget. Standing out negatively as a part of the unit known as the team’s weakest isn’t a way to make your case for sticking on a 53-man roster. Dre Bly made the secondary’s only big play by intercepting Kyle Orton’s tipped pass.
Drew Stanton saw just one series of action but made the most of it by leading a game winning drive. Stanton used his legs to scamper 25 yards to the end zone on a third and four. The key play may have been a 28-yard pass to Eric Fowler for a key first down. Fowler did a nice job to get two feet down before falling out of bounds after catching a surprisingly strong throw from Stanton.
The Broncos made one last attempt to find the end zone for the win but they couldn’t finish the job. Brady Quinn was able to use some underneath passes to make their way through the Lions’ swiss cheese secondary. Seventh-round draft pick Willie Young slammed the door shut with a edge rush and strip resulting in a turnover. A nice exclamation point for a player that showed promise in preseason game number one.
The talent level at the top of the roster, except for the secondary, looks pretty good. The Lions still have problems fielding a team that can match-up with other NFL teams at the bottom of the roster. Injuries are a reality in the NFL so this deficiency will be exposed at some point of the season. It is the biggest reality check that reminds us that rebuilding is a process and this year will not represent a finished product.
For more on this game check out the live blog transcript.