DETROIT -- In a self-proclaimed "dress-rehearsal", the Detroit Lions proved they are not quite ready to take the stage.
That was evident after the Lions were thoroughly routed 37-13 by the St. Louis Rams Monday night before a sold-out Ford Field crowd -- and national television audience. In the team's third consecutive preseason loss, the intensity and momentum clearly belonged to St. Louis from the first snap.
Short defensive linemen Shaun Rogers and James Hall, the Lions failed to keep the St. Louis offense in check. During the Rams opening drive, second-year tailback Stephen Jackson raced 62-yards, setting up a 7-yard Marc Bulger touchdown scamper.
The drive set the tone for the remainder of the contest, while the Lions' offense was plagued by poor offensive line play and penalties.
Detroit tallied 13 total penalties, but 7 of those came in the first-half -- when the ball club had both of its starting units on the field.
"We had a touchdown callback because of a penalty. We had too many penalties," said Lions' head coach Steve Mariucci afterwards. "Too many penalties in the pre-season for us. For as much time as we spend harping on the rules and using officials and that sort of thing; way too many penalties. That is disappointing. No excuses for a game like this.
"I thought our team was very high, fired up and ready to go; fresh and ready to go for a game like this. And then it just didn't happen on the field and that is the more important thing."
Prior to the contest, the Lions had collectively labeled the rare Monday night appearance as the closest thing to a regular season game. Donning their new black uniforms, the team apparently left everything else in the locker room and was never able to establish itself -- defensively or offensively.
"Our offensive guys, the 12 or 13 guys that come in and out, they have to come together and click and finish drives in the end zone," said Mariucci, who is still waiting for his first-team offense to reach the endzone. "On defense we have to stop people and make them punt and do that sort of thing."
Lions' quarterback Joey Harrington was under constant pressure during the entire first half and part of the third quarter before being relieved. Harrington finished 9 of 18 for 106 yards with no touchdowns. Entering the contest, he had tossed just one incompletion in the previous two preseason games.
Harrington wasn't sweating the performance or the loss, and seemed confident the team could correct the issues.
"We have a lot things we have to do before the beginning of the regular season," said Harrington. "We didn't do anything right tonight. It is not beyond our ability to get this fixed. We got in some trouble in the beginning and things just snowballed from there and we really didn't do anything right in any area.
"You have these games and you hate to go through them, but you know, you wakeup tomorrow, watch the film and move on."
Bulger, meanwhile, moved the ball with ease. Facing little pressure, the St. Louis quarterback connected on 11 of 14 tosses for 167 yards including a touchdown through the air. Bulger was intercepted once by Lions' strong safety Kenoy Kennedy, but frequently, members of the Lions' secondary were caught out of place and exploited by the Rams offense.
On the ground, the Lions were pushed around, too. The Rams rushed for 183 yards, averaging 4.7 yards per carry to Detroit's paltry total of 66.
Asked whether or not he felt he "oversold" his team, Mariucci wasn't willing to wax pessimistic.
"You might get tempted to think that way after tonight, but I believe we are better," he said. "I believe we are a better football team, certainly better than we have shown."
The Lions will conclude their exhibition season Friday at Buffalo. Kick-off is slated for 7:00 pm (EST).
Injury Notes: In a scary moment, former Lions' cornerback Terry Fair left the game with a bruised spinal chord, but is expected to be OK. Mariucci admitted that strong safety Kenoy Kennedy played with a slight hamstring injury during the contest, and was sore following the game. Linebacker James Davis left the game with what's being considered a sprained wrist. Fellow linebacker Teddy Lehman, meanwhile, has a sprained knee and he is questionable for the season opener.
Reality Check: Rams Thump Lions, 37-13
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