Twentyman: Lions thump Bills, 35-13, to end preseason

Posted Aug 29, 2013

A look at the good, and the not so good, that can be taken away from the Lions' 35-13 preseason finale win in Buffalo

The Lions did a lot of good things in Thursday’s 35-13 trouncing of the Buffalo Bills.

Willie YoungDE Willie Young (Photo: G.Smith/Detroit Lions)
  • The defense and special teams forced three turnovers and the offense turned all three into touchdowns, something they failed to do a week ago vs. New England when four turnovers resulted in just 13 points.
  • They had a few nice individual performances from defensive end Willie Young (two sacks), cornerback Bill Bentley (interception) and running back Theo Riddick (two touchdown catches).
  • The win was also the second-straight preseason game for the Lions in which they scored 35-plus points, something they haven’t done since 1954.

“I think in a lot of areas we were able to still get good evaluations even though the game got out of hand early,” head coach Jim Schwartz said.

The Lions were without All Pro receiver Calvin Johnson and starting running back Reggie Bush. That seemed to affect the first-team offense as it was unable to generate much in the passing game during the two series quarterback Matthew Stafford was out there.

He finished 1-of-6 passing for 12 yards with an interception. He overthrew Patrick Edwards on two deep passes that could have resulted in touchdowns and had another high throw intended for receiver Nate Burleson in the first quarter.

Stafford didn’t get much help from his receivers, though. Burleson let a pass slip right through his fingers that was intercepted.

Edwards dropped a third-down pass that would have kept the second drive going.

“Without those (drops), I’m sure the ones would have moved flawlessly down the field,” Burleson said, “We’re talking about physical mistakes that’s the only thing that was probably restricting movement from the (first-team offense).

“As a receiver, I can say, 'hold onto the ball and we’ll keep the chains moving'. If we were getting stopped and guys weren’t getting open, Matt couldn’t get the ball off, then that’s where problems would have to be addressed. From a physical standpoint, all we have to do as receivers is catch the ball.”

Stafford’s final passing numbers for the preseason -- 27 of 55 for 310 yards with a touchdown and an interception -- are only okay, but Stafford doesn’t seem worried.

"I think we’re right where we need to be," he told WXYT at halftime. "Get some of our guys back on the field and go out there and get ready for Minnesota."

Schwartz was asked if he was worried at all heading into the preseason with his starting offense scoring just one touchdown this preseason.

“No,” he said.

As for the rest of the game, it was pretty much all Detroit Lions.

Backup quarterback Shaun Hill finished 4-of-5 passing with 69 yards and two touchdowns.

On the receiving end of those scores were Edwards (eight yards) and receiver Kris Durham (six yards).

Running back Joique Bell, who started in place of Bush, had 32 rushing yards on five carries, including a 23-yard touchdown in the second quarter. He and running back Mikel Leshoure split series, and Bell had the better game.

Leshoure had 24 yards rushing on seven carries with a fumble. He also caught three passes for 15 yards.

Third quarterback Kellen Moore entered the game midway through the second quarter and had a second-straight good performance. Moore completed 10 of his 18 pass attempts for 78 yards with two touchdowns, both to Riddick.

Defensively, the Lions got interceptions from Bentley and cornerback Rashean Mathis, both of which the offense turned into touchdowns the very next play.

“I just concentrated on my assignment and it put me in a position to make a play and I made the play,” Bentley said. “I just try to go out and do my best at what I do. Just try to execute my plays at the best of my ability and the coaches put me in position to make plays.”

Receiver Michael Spurlock also recovered a muffed punt by the Bills, which resulted in one of Riddick’s touchdown catches.

The next order of business for the Lions is trimming their roster from 75 to 53 players by Saturday’s 6 p.m. deadline. There are a lot of hard decisions that need to be made over the next 36 hours.

With the preseason now over, the focus now shifts to the season opener vs. Minnesota at Ford Field Sept. 8.

Schwartz said in his post game press conference in Buffalo that prep work started “five minutes ago”.