Detroit Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford addresses the slow start against the New England Patriots on Friday and what the offense must do to improve.
After fairly easy victories over the Indianapolis Colts and the New York Jets in their first two preseason matchups, the Detroit Lions went into Friday’s game against the reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots thinking the outcome would be a better barometer of their team’s current status. What the Lions’ actually received was a strong dose of reality.
The Patriots’ first team offense, led by 40-year old quarterback Tom Brady, steamrolled the Lions’ starting defense, scoring 24 unanswered points to start the game.
Detroit’s offense fared no better as the Pat’s defense limited quarterback Matthew Stafford and the Motor City to a single first down in the entire first quarter. And the Lions’ starters turned the ball over twice.
In fact, it took Detroit’s offense nearly the entire first half to really get going. With 1:24 left in the second quarter, Stafford found wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. in the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown reception, the Lions’ first points of the game.
Following the deceivingly close 30-28 defeat, Stafford talked to the media about how his team can avoid a similar slow start in the upcoming regular season.
"“You know, just got to be better on third down earlier in the game,” Stafford told the team’s official website. “We’ve got to stay on the field. Obviously, the turnovers hurt us, the fumble, and then obviously, the one—the ball that I threw that got tipped and ended up in their hands, so just got to do a better job of holding on to the ball and converting third downs.”"
By the end of the game, the Lions’ actually did have a better third down percentage than the Patriots. New England converted just five of their 13 third downs (38%). While Detroit converted seven of their 13 (53%). But that was obviously with the second and third stringers doing most of the heavily lifting.
In fact, wide receiver Golden Tate fumbled away the ball on the first play of the Lions’ opening offensive possession. Detroit’s next two offensive series both resulted in three and outs. And the Lions’ slow start looked like molasses compared to the more disciplined and efficient play of the Patriots who scored 13 points in the first 3:23 of the contest.
Matthew Stafford, himself, had a good outing against the New England Patriots, completing 15 of his 22 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns.