A win is a win, and if you're the Detroit Lions, even an exhibition victory -- over the defending Super Bowl champs, no less -- is something to reflect proudly upon.
But the team's 13-10 win on Thursday had as many negatives as positives and considering it's the pre-season, perhaps more.
Here's a quick analysis of the good, the bad and the ugly from game.
The Good: The first thing that jumps out at you is Jon Kitna's statistics. The veteran, who has had an outstanding camp, finished 6 of 7 for 106 yards and the game's only (meaningful) touchdown. He was perfect on the first drive, and would have kept his second drive intact if he didn't throw slightly behind Roy Williams on third down. Calvin Johnson was a beast, collecting 4 receptions for 78 yards. This was against the Giants' starting defense, and bodes well for the team's offensive hopes -- at least as far as the passing game is concerned.
Toss rookie Kevin Smith into the 'good' bin. Despite a lackluster offensive line performance (more on that later). Smith managed 22 yards on eight carries, demonstrating patience and a quick first step.
"Just average, I just got a feel for the game," said Smith of his performance. "That was the positive part, but I really can't say till I look at the film. It wasn't outstanding, it was a preseason game. I just consider it getting my feet wet."
Surprisingly, the Lions also dominated the time of possession, and did not give up on the run game (they ran the ball 35 times, which nearly equaled Martz's run attempts in all of 2007). Chalk up an impressive play-calling debut for coordinator Jim Colletto, who lived up to his reputation as a run-first coach.
Defensively, Detroit's starters stymied Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning, who completed just 2-of-6 passes for a meager 19 yards. The defense wasn't nearly as strong in the second-half, however, allowing David Carr to carve up the secondary to the tune of 104 yards on 10-of-13 passing.
First-round pick and right tackle Gosder
Cherilus struggled in his debut.
Getty Images/Dominic Centofani
The Bad: Detroit's offensive line struggled to create room for Tatum Bell. And while Smith certainly showed some flash, Bell was never given the opportunity. He ran seven times for just eight yards. Place that blame on the line, which had a difficult time with the Giants, who fronted at times nine players and overwhelmed the Lions. Detroit will not face a defense like New York's each week, and they also gave up zero sacks.
The pass protection was solid, but if the Lions want their balanced offense to be formidable, that zone-blocking scheme needs to improve.
It's like pounding the rock," said Lions' head coach Rod Marinelli. "You keep swinging if it's not breaking. And some guys cry about it, 'Oh, it's not going to break, it's not going to break.' Well, we're going to break it, and you just keep working at it. It's hard; it's hard work, and we have to stay with it. You don't just say, 'Hey, we're going to run the ball here.' No, that's lip service. We're going to put pad service in."
The Ugly: Gosder Cherilus had a couple of nice run blocks, including one to spring Smith for seven yards. He also blocked well downfield for Drew Stanton on a few improvised scrambles. But any good Cherilus did should be overlooked by his three penalties (half of the team's total). Jitters should be expected for any rookie in his first contest, but Cherilus' penalties not only hurt the team, but they were blatantly obvious. Considering Detroit already has a false start artist in assumed starting right tackle George Foster, the team will look to clean up Cherilus' struggles before they become habit.
"Without seeing the tape, the penalties, that jumps out at you, which we can't have," said Marinelli. "We're not going to do it. We had six penalties today and it's not winning football. We just have to eliminate that. I think he (Cherilus) did some good things on his blocking; I felt it a couple times."
Also, anyone who watched the local broadcast on television was forced to listen to former Lion and Michigan standout Desmond Howard's "color" commentary. It might be the only time Lions fans would have preferred to hear Matt Millen speak.