Return Of the Defense
James Davis sacked Bills' quarterback J.P. Losman on a linebacker blitz early in the first quarter. Even more impressive? The Detroit Lions blitzed a linebacker. In fact, each of the Lions' three first half sacks were by linebackers. Dre' Bly knows how to share. After receiving a Losman interception (gift wrapped), Bly shared his wealth with safety Terrence Holt who brought the lateral into the end zone with a classic, floating dive over the goal-line. Linebacker Alex Lewis also had two sacks and veteran safety Bracey Walker had a pick off a deflection in the first half. Walker's interception led to an immediate 9-yard touchdown scamper by running back Shawn Bryson, handing the Lions a 14-0 lead. Throughout the night, the Lions were after the football, demonstrating the quickness and talent expected of them. And, for once, it was the opposition's first team offense that didn't score. After Monday night's collapse, it was nice to see defensive coordinator Dick Jauron's maligned group respond.
Artose Pinner's legs never stop moving. They probably move in his sleep. Versus a tough Bills' defense with three quality linebackers, Pinner ran hard -- even punishing a Bills' defender on a screen pass en route to a hard-earned first down late in the first quarter. On that same drive, which lapped into the second quarter, Pinner broke the plane on 4th and 1 for a touchdown. The TD was dubiously overturned, but 'Tose wasn't finished. Pinner's second opportunity to reach the end zone presented itself in the third-quarter, and the third-year running back cashed in with a six- yard scamper (21-0).
Introducing ... DanO
After rookie quarterback Dan Orlovsky took over early in the second quarter for an injured Jeff Garcia (read below), it seemed the rookie might welt under the pressure of playing against the bulk of the Bills' first-team defense. To the contrary. Orlovsky completed his first four passes, but looked nimble in the pocket and seemed serviceable as a backup if Garcia is out for an extended period of time. Orlovsky helped engineer a 14-play, 70-yard drive that culminated in Pinner's third quarter score.
And They Were All Yellow ...
The Lions defense survived four penalties for 78 yards with 5:40 to go in the first quarter. Impressive play or not, the defense cannot enter the regular season as a mistake-laden bunch. While the whistle was unusually active Friday night, corrections must be made.
"Problematic" Doesn't Do It Justice
Jeff Garcia looked shakey and inaccurate. Any thoughts to a quarterback controversy in Detroit have been answered by Garcia's erratic -- if not inadequate -- play. Even worse, Garcia's leg injury. Poor preseason play or not, Garcia is a valuable backup quarterback. Luckily for Detroit, Orlovsky showed some spark during his extended playing time.
Bad Negotiation Tactic
Eddie Drummond's first punt return since last season (bridged by a brief holdout) was spoiled by a fumble. Although recovered by fellow Lion Donte Curry, the NFL's most potent return man didn't exactly make a statement. The Lions have promised Drummond that a long-term deal is still attainable if he can stay healthy -- and continue his spectacular play.
Pre-Season Means 'SLIDE'!
It's difficult to find anything worse than Garcia's broken fibula. And to think, it could have been avoided. On his 23-yard scramble, Garcia had already surpassed the first-down marker and instead of sliding, proceeded to run before being violently wrestled to the turf by an aggressive Bills defense. Garcia's ankle turned underneath him and he was carted off the field. He is expected to miss several weeks of the regular season.
The fact that there is much more good than bad, for starters. The defense rebounded well, while the starting unit -- short just about everyone -- didn't have much of a chance. Still, Mariucci had to be pleased that Jauron's defense responded after being called "soft" by every media outlet, national and local, since Monday. The offensive line seemed a bit more solid, too, but still didn't provide a comfortable pocket while Garcia was in. It is always good to walk into the season with a win, but it is never good to walk in limping. Mariucci would likely rather enter the season with a healthy backup, but now he'll have no choice but to support Joey Harrington with unwavering enthusiasm.
ON THE BUBBLE
The Lions will make cuts immediately following Friday's contest. In effort to reach the NFL's mandatory 53-man limit, nineteen players must be trimmed by Saturday's afternoon deadline. Below are several Lions who are "on the bubble."
Chris Cash - DB
Vernon Fox - DB
Andre' Goodman - DB
Jeff Sanchez - DB
Andrew Guman - DB
Cliff Johnson - DB
Bill Swancutt - DE
Brandon Kennedy - DT
Jonathan Goddard - DE
Eric Powell - DE
Wali Rainer - LB