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Nate Caminata - LionsFans.com
It wasn't exactly how Marty Mornhinweg wanted to launch his NFL head coaching career, with a loss, but the Lions' head coach can't be unhappy with how his starters performed.
Although Detroit fell 27-24 Friday night to the Cincinnati Bengals in its pre-season opener, the coaching staff received its first good look of the offense -- including quarterback Charlie Batch -- under the West Coast offense. And it looked good.
With its first possession of the game, Detroit struck immediately when Batch connected with wide receiver Johnnie Morton on a 47-yard touchdown completion. The Lions defense, missing starters Tracy Scroggins and Bryant Westbrook, dominated the Bengals offense for the majority of the first half.
In the second quarter, the Lions were propelled to a 14-0 lead after wide receiver Larry Foster, an undrafted rookie free-agent in 2000, returned a punt 80-yards for the touchdown. Foster added two receptions in the first half.
After Bengals' backup quarterback John Kitna found Darnay Scott from 8-yards out for the touchdown, both teams exchanged field goals, including a Jason Hanson 30-yard kick. The Lions entered the half holding a 17-10 lead.
In the second-half, Foster delved into his bag of tricks again, taking the second half opening kick-off and weaving in and out of traffic for a 102-yard touchdown return. Unfortunately, Foster's return would conclude the Lions' scoring.
Despite an impressive, four sack performance from defensive end James Hall (another undrafted rookie free-agent from the 2000 class), Detroit could not prevent two scoring drives compiled by former Lion quarterback Scott Mitchell. Mitchell's 4th quarter hook-up with Bengals' rookie Chad Johnson knotted the contest up at 24 apeice, and a late Mitchell drive killed 5:10 off the clock before Bengal kicker Neil Rackers' 34-yard field goal sealed the victory as time expired.
Batch, who finished 5-of-6 for 99 yards, was pleased with the offensive performance his team displayed.
"We came out and did what we wanted to do offensively," said Batch. "But we couldn't keep it together at the end."
The Lions return to camp on Sunday, and will travel to Indianapolis to play the Colts' next week Saturday in their second pre-season contest. Kick-off is scheduled for 8:00PM (EST).