Game Blog Week 13: Patriots vs Lions

The Detroit Lions put a scare in the Patriots by turning in a hard-fought game that was full of sloppy play, key turnovers and a bundle of very good play calling by a Lions team that doesn't get enough credit for what they do well. Ultimately, the Patriots took advantage of their defense and turnovers to seal the win. *** UPDATE: FINAL Patriots 28 Lions 21 ***

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The game was essentially over when Mike Vrabel intercepted a Jon Kitna pass that was thrown up on an ill-advised sideline throw. Kitna was pressured by Jarvis Green who had a hand on the Lion's QB when he went to throw the ball off his back foot. Vrable blanketed the Lions receiver, btu after he made the pick he was hit in the back of the head by a Lion flying in from across the field. A second look it appeared that the Lions player's knee banged into Vrable's helmet as the LB was on his knees on the ground.

With the Lions out of time outs, all the Patriots had to do was a few kneel downs to seal the win.

FINAL SCORE: Patriots 28 - Lions 21


The Patriots put a little breathing room between them and the Lions who were very much challenging for the upset. Taking over with 5:57 left in the fourth period, Brady drove the Patriots to the go-ahead score in 7 plays for 32 yards. More importantly they used 3:24 of game clock to leave a little over two minutes for any potential Lions comeback.

The drive began after Wright's recovery on the Lions 32. Mixing in the run and the pass, Brady led New England to the Lions 4 before Corey Dillon punched the ball in on a race to the pylon on the left side.

Key plays: 6-yard pass to Reche Caldwell on 3rd-and-5. 9-yard pass to Kevin Faulk to get the ball to the Lions 12. Dillon's score from the 4.

Score: Patriots 28 - Lions 21

Note: the run puts Corey Dillon over the 11,000-yard mark in his career. Dillon is the 15th player to break the 11L mark rushing in a career. The score was Dillon's third score of the day; he now has 10 on the year leading the Patriots in scoring. Dillon is 2 away from a career season high.


Both teams turned the ball over in a back-and-forth give the ball away competition.

The Lions first turned the ball over on a Jon Kitna pass intended for Dan Campbell that was intercepted by Mike Vrabel at the Patriots 49.

Then it was the Patriots turn. Tom Brady drove the Patriots into Lions territory only to see Ben Watson cough the ball up on another fumble at the Lions 39.

Then the third turnover was a Rosevelt Colvin strip sack of Jon Kitna at the 40 recovered by Mike Wright for the Patriots at the Lions 32.

The Patriots have the ball back and their best chance to get back on top this half.


Snapping out of their game-long funk the Patriots went to a hurry-up offense and drove down the field against the Lions to get back to a tie game. New England used Kevin Faulk to their advantage as the speedy back handled the ball 4 of the 9 plays on the scoring drive.

Key plays: Pass to Ben Watson on 2nd and 8 to get the drive going. Pass to Patrick Pass for 16 yards to get the ball to the Lions 18. Corey Dillon TD from the 2.

Score: Patriots 21 - Lions 21


After the safety the Lions got the ball back in good field position. Detroit managed to use a combination of dump offs and solid running to the versatile Kevin Jones to get back into FG range. New England looks completely out of sync against a speedy and aggressive Lions team hungry for the upset.

Score: Patriots 13 - Lions 21


The Lions managed to strip-sack Tom Brady at the goal line to cause the fumble, which was recovered by the Patriots in the end zone. Heath Evans was beaten on pass protection by Kenoy Kennedy who was able to get a hand on the ball to force the fumble.

The poor field goal position was setup by yet another penalty on the kick off which caused the Patriots to begin the drive at the new England 10.

Score: Patriots 13 - Lions 18

Note: Laurence Maaroney has not returned since being sidelined early in the first half. The Patriots continue to shoot themselves in the foot with penalties. They've set a season high record and are on their way to a team record under Bill Belichick.


The Lions took advantage of a Tom Brady interception to put another FG on the board. New England has continued to look like they're not into the game except for maybe the defense at times. While the defense was able to keep the Lions offense from running up the score with all the opportunities they've had, it's the Patriots offense that is getting outplayed.

Kitna did what he needed to do to get the Lions back into field goal range after taking a sack on the drive. Kitna drove 22 yards in 6 plays to put through another Jason Hanson FG.

Key Plays: Kitna pass on third and 21 to get in FG range at the Patriots 31. Hansen squeaks the ball through on a 49-yard drive.

Score: Patriots 13 - Lions 16


The Lions tie the game up on a Jason Hansen 38-yard FG. The Lions took the ball on thei first possession to march downfield and setup Hansen's attempt.

Key Plays: Illegal use of the hands on Asante Samuel on a 3rd-and three that extended the drive at midfield. The Referees are calling the game tightly and the Patrios haven't adjusted.

Score: Patriots 13 - Lions 13



Jon Kitna 9/19 127 1 TD 1 INT
Tom Brady 13/22 194

Kevin Jones 12 36
Corey Dillon 5 18 1 TD
Laurence Maroney 4 14

Mike Furrey 6 77 1 TD
Roy Williams 1 21
Reche Caldwell 5 91
Kevin Faulk 3 26
Ben Watson 1 23

Analysis: The Patriots have played down to the level of the competition by committing an abundance of penalties that either stalled their own drives or continued those for Detroit.

Although Brady has 194 yards passing, it's the team's inconsistency that is cause for concern for a team expected to make a run in the playoffs. Although the Patriots have avoided tipped balls that turn into interceptions, they have fumbled the ball away at a key point in the game giving the Lions an opportunity to put points on the board.

Jon Kitna has found his targets downfield and has enjoyed enough protection to find the open man. With the weapons the Lions have on offense, it's entirely possible -- if they can keep it close -- to give the Patriots a score or even pull off the impossible and win.

Keys to the Second Half:

Continue to stretch the field. The Patriots have had trouble stopping the run today and the Lions can setup the playaction pass by continuing to run the ball.

Win the turnover battle. If the Lions can win this part of the game, they can probably score enough points to keep things close

Get the ball downfield. The Patriots have shown they can pass. If they can get the ball to Watson and Caldwell downfield they can get on top of a scrappy Lions team.

Stop the Lions passing game. If the Patriots aren't able to find a way to slow down Jon Kitna, the Lions are going to exploit the Patriots' secondary with big gains through the air.


The Patriots turned in a classic offensive drive with time running out to take the lead over the Lions heading into the half. After getting the ball back with Samuel's interception, Brady guided the Patriots into the Lions red zone in 7 plays that gained 61 yards in 37 seconds.

Although the Patriots were unable to come away with a touchdown, the return of Doug Gabriel to the offense was a key. Gabriel made a key first down on the drive running a timed out pattern that showed he's still on the same page as Brady. Unfortunately a few plays later Gabriel had a Brady bullet go through his hands in the back of the end zone.

Key plays: Short dump off to Kevin Faulk that resulted in a 20-yard run to put the Patriots in scoring position at the Lions 21.

SCORE: Patriots 13 - Lions 10



The New England Patriots were finally able to get their offense back on track as time was winding down in the half. With a little over 3 minutes to go, the Patriots took the ball from their own 27 yard line and marched 73 yards in 5 plays to score on a Corey Dillon 6-yard plunge.

Key Plays: 16-yard Troy Brown reverse that looked like it was going to be stopped in the backfield. 28-yard completion to Jabar Gaffney, followed by a 23-yard completion to Ben Watson.

SCORE: Patriots 10 - Lions 10


Three plays and 4 yards after getting the ball back on a turnover the Lions put another three points up on the Patriots. The turnover - a fumble by Patrick Pass - gave the Lions a perfect opportunity to go up by double digits, but the Patriots defense turned in a strong performance to keep the Lions out of the end zone.

Key plays: An Asante Samuel pass defended at the Goal Line against Roy Williams. Kitna was scrambling on the play to the right after avoiding a Jarvis Green Rush and flipped the ball toward Williams in the corner of the end zone. Samuel's quick closing on the ball to knock it away prevented the TD

SCORE: Patriots 3 - Lions 10


The Patriots were able to thwart a solid Detroit drive that ended on a Kevin Jones fumble at the New England 4 yard line when Mike Vrabel pounced on the ball after Artrell Hawkins punched it out.

Three plays later, the Patriots turned it right back over when Patrick Pass had the ball stripped out.


The Lions took advantage of the speed of the surface, and their wide receiving corps to put together a good looking drive by their offense. After overcoming a sack early in the drive, the Lions moved the chains with quick passes and solid playcalling.

Key Plays: 31-yard catch and run on 2nd and 13 in NE territory. 17-yard completiont o Kevin Jones on a 3rd-and 10 from the Patriots 24.

SCORE: Patriots 3 - Lions 7

Note: Roy Williams broke the 1,000-yard mark in receiving, the first player to do so in a Lions uniform since Johnny Morton.


The Patriots get on the board first with a 17-play 81-yard drive that began on the Patriots 12 yard line. Reche Caldwell was the target for Brady five times with one of his catches ruled out of bounds.

Maroney ran well, but took a breather after getting smacked on a three-yard run. Corey Dillon took over for Maroney with Patrick Pass and Heath Evans also seeing action. Pass made his first carry of the year on the drive - a four-yard run on first and 10.

Key Plays: A 21-yard pass completion to Reche Caldwell on third-and-9. A fourth down QB sneak by Tom Brady at the Lions 13. The Patriots still misfired near the goal line and had to settle for the FG attempt.

SCORE: Patriots 3 - Lions 0

INJURY: Lions DB Fernando Bryan was shaken up and looks like he received a concussion. Patriots RB Laurence Maroney left the drive looking like he had the wind knocked out of him.

UPDATE 1:30pm: No Score

After each team had an opportunity to get rolling first, both offenses stagnated resulting in punts. The Lions had their drive extended by an encroachment penalty that could have been called a false start, but was ruled that the defender caused the Lions lineman to jump.

The Patriots play has been sloppy up to this point with penalties, and miscues putting the team in difficult situations.

No score, but the Patriots have the ball and are driving.

UPDATE: 1:00pm

Game Day: Mild day in New England. Sunny weather about 44. A perfect day for some football.


QB Vinny Testaverde; WR Chad Jackson; DB Eugene Wilson; S Rodney Harrison; OL Gene Mruczkowki; OL Ryan O'Callaghan; DL Le Kevin Smith; DL Marquise Hill

QB Dan Orlovski; CB Jamar Fletcher; RB Aveion Cason; TE Sean McHugh; LB Tedy Lehman; DT Anthony Bryant; WR Devale Ellis; DT Shaun Rogers

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