Lions-Falcons recap: Detroit’s first-string offense shines in preseason opener


The Detroit Lions first-team offense looked good for the first three weeks of training camp, but many were beginning to wonder if that was more of an indictment of the Detroit defense. In Friday night’s preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons, the Lions offense took an important step to show that the progress they’ve made on that side of the ball is real. Jared Goff was essentially perfect in his only drive of the game, leading the Lions to a quick 7-0 lead five minutes into the game.

But the Lions defense also confirmed some of the concerns on that side of the ball, as Marcus Mariota quickly countered with a hasty attack that cut the Detroit starters.

The game eventually came to a halt when both teams rested their starters after only one possession on either side of the ball. The teams traded blows back and forth, but it was the Falcons who walked away victorious thanks to a late fumble from David Blough and a big fourth-place finish from Atlanta’s attack.

Here’s a drive-by-drive breakdown of the Lions’ preseason opener

First quarter

The Lions won the kickoff and elected to receive. The ride got off to a good start when Jared Goff found Brock Wright – in for TJ Hockenson – for an 18-yard win in the second round of the match. First down pickups from Jamaal Williams and Amon-Ra St. Brown put Detroit in the field goal position. Then a nice floater to St. Brown brought the Lions to the 9-yard line and D’Andre Swift hit it on the first target by changing course on this impressive run. 7-0 Lions. In all, the Lions went 79 yards in just over five minutes.

It didn’t take long for rookie Aidan Hutchinson to feel his impact. First, he hit quarterback Marcus Mariota in the first defensive play. And on the second he did this:

But the Falcons’ run proved to be a problem for the Lions’ first-team defense. Atlanta rushed for 61 yards on 10 carries (6.1 YPC) on the opening drive, which was capped by a Mariota 6-yard touchdown run. 7-7 draw.

Second quarter

That was it for the first team offense, as Tim Boyle and the second set (across the board) took to the field for Detroit’s second offensive drive of the game. The drop was significant as the violation immediately resulted in three penalties – two holdings and a false start. But during a free third and long game, Boyle uncorked a beautiful ball to Kalif Raymond for an explosive 45-yard win.

However, the Lions could only collect eight more yards and settle for a 46-yard field goal. Austin Seibert knocked it right through the uprights for a 10-7 lions lead.

The Falcons also responded with their second-team attack, led by rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder. The Detroit defense fared slightly better, as linebacker Derrick Barnes cashed in this tackle for a loss, ultimately giving the Falcons a third and seven.

Ridder would eventually knock over his receiver, leading to the game’s first kick.

On the next drive, while supported on his own 10-yard line, Boyle failed on a few steps, leading to a quick three-and-out by the Lions charge. The Falcons would take the ball back at their own 45-yard line.

The Lions appeared to have made the first turnover of the game when Bobby Price stepped for a Ridder pass, but a gross passer penalty on Jarrad Davis wiped out the game and put the Falcons in field goal range.

Here’s a closer look at the fine:

Broken cover from the secondary Lions made for a big 20-yard pass to Geronimo Allison, and Ridder capped the drive on the next game with a play-action pass for the score. 14-10 Falcons.

The Lions’ offense began to come alive again, with Boyle connecting 11 yards with Garrett Griffin and another 24 with Trinity Benson. Then on third and 10, he hit Tom Kennedy in the pass for a 10-yard gain plus a facemask penalty kick, leading to a first-and-goal for the Lions within the two-minute warning.

A defensive illegal hands-to-face penalty extended the drive after Boyle was fired, and two plays later Boyle threw a successful fade route to Devin Funchess’ tight end. 17-14 Lions.

With just 47 seconds left, the Falcons tried to pull off their attack in the late half with just a single timeout. Ridder opened the drive with a 20-yard scramble and ran for another 19 a few plays later. Atlanta would attempt a 47-yard field goal and successfully equalize the game as time went on in the first half. 17-17 draw.

third quarter

The Falcons were able to push the ball into midfield, but pressure from Jarrad Davis and Austin Bryant forced Atlanta to kick the ball away, pinning Detroit on their own 8-yard line, while Boyle was still the quarterback used to be.

The Lions were able to get out of the shadows of their own end zone, but on a third-and-7, Boyle tried to squeeze a ball to Kalil Pimpleton, but was intercepted by Falcon’s cornerback Dee Alford.

However, Detroit’s defense held strong, holding the Falcons at three. 20-17 Falcons.

The attack by David Blough and the third team of the Lions took over the next stage. On the first game, Blough scrambled around the pocket and found a wide open Tom Kennedy for 26 yards. Dan grabbed 8 with his feet after this nice pump fake:

The Lions got into the red zone, but were unable to convert on three downs inside the 5-yard line. Riley Patterson knocked through a 27-yard field goal to get the game going again. 20-20.

Fourth quarter

The Lions defense got off to a good start in the final stanza with back-to-back pass breakups by Josh Woods and Cedric Boswell, bringing the ball back to Blough.

A nice third-down pickup from Funchess kept the ride alive early, and a hurdle from the former Wolverine got the crowd going:

Detroit would pick up back-to-back fourth-down conversions to get into the red zone. First, Blough picked it up with his feet on a quarter-and-inch play-action bootleg. Then Kalil Pimpleton took 7 yards on a fourth-and-3. But the Lions failed to punch it in and settled for a 28-yard go-ahead field goal with 5:57 left. 23-20 lions.

John Cominsky made some nice plays for the Lions defense, including a run thing on third-and-2 to force a quick three-and-out for the Falcons charge.

Kennedy first grabbed another wrench on the ensuing drive on a third and 9 to avoid a quick punt and let the Lions burn more time off the clock. But just when the Lions looked like they might run out of time, Blough fiddled with a shotgun click and handed the ball back to the Falcons on the Detroit 33-yard line with exactly 2:00 to go.

Cornerback Chase Lucas nearly ended the game with a pick in his lap, but the rookie dropped it. Lucas made up for it in the next play with a nice tackle into the open field, forcing a fourth and nine for Atlanta. But the Falcons put a prayer on the line and Jared Bernhardt knocked out Boswell for the touchdown and a 27-23 Falcons lead with 1:30 to go.

With 1:35 on the clock and one timeout, Blough had to go 75 yards for the winning score. Unfortunately, the Lions were only able to reach midfield and Blough’s salute attempt failed, ending the game with a score of 27-23 Falcons.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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