Analysis: Lions show baby steps in win

Collectively, the Detroit Lions not only overcame a quality opponent during Thursday night's win over Cincinnati, they also overcame their own deficiencies -- the catalyst behind many of the team's shortcomings in recent years.

Quarterback Jon Kitna was rusty, the offensive line seemed slow-footed, and there was an overall lack of sound chemistry on the offensive side of the football.

Still, the Detroit Lions managed 556 yards and 27 points in Thursday's victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

There was no semblance of a pass-rush, the secondary was exposed for its lack of experience, and Cincinnati seemed to move the ball often times without effort.

Yet, despite several new faces on the defense, and hampered by the absence of defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, the Lions defense kept one of the league's more prolific offenses out of the end zone early in the game.

"The thing that we've all seen is a team that will fight," said head coach Rod Marinelli following the win. "You can't get a stats sheet on the effort part, all those things.

"What I was impressed with from a starter to the last guy on this team, they competed, it was important to win, everybody fought."

Marinelli noted that the team still had many things to work on, which was sometimes painfully apparent during the game: Lions' running backs were often left on an island, Kitna was flushed from the pocket a handful of occasions, and the first-team offense only passed midfield one time.

On defense, Carson Palmer picked apart Detroit's secondary, and was given ample time in the pocket. The Bengals' running game, meanwhile, was also effective.

But collectively, the team not only overcame a quality opponent, they also overcame their own deficiencies -- the catalyst behind many of the team's shortcomings in recent years.

Consider the following:

  • They lost the turnover battle, and still emerged victorious. One turnover, an interception on a tipped Dan Orlovsky pass, occurred as the Lions were in the red zone and was returned for a touchdown.

    The score put the team behind 26-10.

  • Related to the point above, the Lions were behind by 16 points in the 4th quarter. They were able to rally behind Orlovsky's decision-making, soft hands belonging to the deepest of the team's receiving core, and solid running by training camp "scrub" Anthony Sherrell.

  • Although it wasn't always the prettiest, the Lions controlled the time of possession by one full-minute. While that doesn't seem like much, it was enough time for Orlovsky to manufacture a game-winning drive.

  • The team had more first-down conversions (23-21), and also converted more of its third-down situations (5-of-13) than Cincinnati (3-of-12).

  • While they would certainly like to improve their efficiency, the Lions reached the red zone on six occasions, converting two of them into touchdowns.

  • The sack of Kitna was the only one allowed by Detroit, which returned the favor by registering four of its own (each by a reserve).

    Although exhibition contests are, indeed, glorified practice sessions, the Detroit Lions walked away with both a literal and moral victory over their orange-clad opposition.

    And, for one game at least, the ball club's all-team effort reflected the mindset of its head coach.

    "The thing that this team is going to be all about is effort and attitude, character and fight," said Marinelli. "We'll keep working to clean the other stuff up. Because (with) their attitude, they'll do that.

    "We had a lot of good stats and all those things tonight, but the stat I like is the toughness, and it means something."


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