This was very much like a varsity vs. junior varsity scrimmage with the Lions finally representing the varsity squad, and they beat up on the lowly junior varsity Bungles Friday night at Ford Field.
The Lions third and fourth stringers outscored the Bengals’ 10-0 in the second half to finish what they started in the first half, closing out an impressive 34-3 preseason opening win. All 10 second half points came in the 4th quarter, a touchdown on a pretty 28-yard Zac Robinson pass to Nate Hughes and a Dave Rayner 44-yard field goal.
In the game, all four Lions quarterbacks played strong, finishing with a combined 280 yards and three touchdowns on 23 of 33 passing and zero turnovers.
As mentioned in the halftime update, the Lions first offensive unit picked the Bengals’ first-string defense apart with ease on the first drive of the game, which ended with a perfect 26-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson.
After a Bengals turnover on the ensuing kickoff, Stafford hit Nate Burleson on a fade on 4th and 1 for a touchdown (after a Lions challenge overturned the initial incomplete call). A little less than six minutes into the game and the Lions led 14-0.
Stafford’s day was done after the first two possessions, finishing 6-for-7 for 71 yards and two touchdowns. Stafford’s only incomplete pass was a seed that was right on the money, but dropped by Jahvid Best.
Calvin Johnson only played the first possession and had two receptions for 37 yards and a touchdown.
Shaun Hill replaced Stafford on the third possession of the game and finished 8 of 9 for 63 yards and a gritty seven yard touchdown run. Stanton played the most of Lions quarterbacks and finished 7 of 15 for 110 yards. Stanton’s completion percentage was hurt by Derrick Williams’ case of the drops.
The Lions defense was all over the field and really made things difficult for rookie quarterback Andy Dalton. While the Lions did allow Cedric Benson to pick up 37 yards on just six carries, the defensive line did a good job giving the rookie Dalton fits, forcing an interception on his first pass in the NFL (by Chris Houston) and pressuring him to hurry throws throughout (Corey Williams picked up a sack in all of their pursuit).
Last year’s Rookie of the Year Ndamukong Suh also welcomed Dalton to the NFL on the Bengals’ second possession by tossing him to the ground like a rag doll shortly after Dalton got rid of the ball and somehow lost his helmet (earning Suh a personal foul penalty, of course).
Ricardo Silva added an interception in the fourth quarter, giving the Lions defense and special teams a total of three turnovers for the game, two of those coming on the first two times the Bengals touched the ball.
Overall, a very encouraging game, but say “it’s just the preseason” seven times fast and know the Bengals are probably the new “Lions” (or the old Bengals). Oh, screw it – I’m very aroused.