O'Hara: A repeat performance in Thursday's game would suit the Lions

Posted Aug 22, 2013

The Lions dominated the Patriots in a 34-10 victory in Game 3 of the preseason two years ago, which gave Detroit some momentum

Tom Brady and his Patriots teammates have an unpleasant memory of the last time they came to Ford Field to play the Lions in what is supposed to be the last full-dress rehearsal before the start of the regular season.

The Lions dominated the Patriots in a 34-10 victory in Game 3 of the preseason two years ago. It gave the Lions some momentum that carried over to a 5-0 start of the regular season and their first playoff berth since 1999.

"We went there two years ago and didn't do very well -- which we've already heard about for three days," Brady told reporters after practice earlier this week.

A repeat performance in Thursday night's game at Ford Field would suit the Lions.

Game 3 comes closest to matching the intensity and competitiveness of the regular season of any other preseason games. Starters get their most playing time of the preseason, and coaches implement game plans and a practice schedule similar to the regular season.

The Lions outplayed the Patriots in every category, including quarterback. Matthew Stafford completed 12 of 14 passes for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns. His passer rating for the game was 158.3, the maximum under the NFL formula.

Brady completed 12 of 22 for 145 yards with a TD and an interception. He was sacked twice, fumbled once and had a passer rating of 71.2.

The Patriots didn't exactly collapse from that preseason loss. They went 13-3 and reached the Super Bowl for the fifth time in 11 years, only to lose to the Giants, 21-17.

The Lions-Patriots Game 3 Focus looks at where the two teams stand after two games, the matchup of quarterbacks, Ndamukong Suh looking forward to playing against Brady, and personnel issues.

Lions (1-1) rebounding: The Lions played well enough for a first preseason game in a 26-17 victory over the Jets but fizzled badly in last week's 24-6 loss at Cleveland.

"There is a sense of urgency in our team, for everybody to play well," Stafford said. "You look at the Cleveland tape. Nobody played well – offense, defense, special teams. We understand that.

"It's getting closer to Week 1, and we're excited about it. We've just got to make sure we stay within the process and try and get better and not look too far ahead."

Practice this week has had a sharper tempo than for the first two games. The schedule for practice and meetings was similar to the regular season, and more practice time was spent preparing for the Patriots than in either of the first two games.

"Significant," is how Coach Jim Schwartz described the difference in the level of game preparation.

"We still don't really game plan. We don't have specific schemes. We're still running all our training camp fundamental schemes, but these last couple of days have been cards from New England. When we played the other preseason games, we get one walk-through the morning before a game, and that's the only preparation."

Patriots (2-0) maintaining: Brady has been surgically effective in victories over the Eagles (31-22) and Buccaneers (25-21), completing 18 of 20 passes for 172 yards, 2 TDs and a passer rating of 135.8.

Brady is making do without most of his favorite receivers from past seasons. Wes Welker signed with Denver as a free agent. Aaron Hernandez was released from the team after being charged with first degree murder. And Rob Gronkowski is recovering from back and forearm surgeries that are likely to keep him out until after the start of the regular season.

The Patriots signed free agent Danny Amendola of the Rams to take Welker's spot. Amendola has 7 catches for 77 yards and a TD in the first two games. Julian Edelman also has 7 catches for 54 yards.

Lions D-line vs. Brady: In addition to sacking Brady twice, the Lions had six quarterback hits for the game two years ago.

Suh had two hits on Brady to go with a tackle. He looks forward to playing against Brady.

"We're going against a high-powered offense, obviously with a great passer in Tom Brady," Suh said. "We want to make sure we come away with a win, but most important is to get some good hard work in. You can never underestimate a win against a top team like that, let alone any team in the NFL.

"I've been fortunate enough to come across his path many times, on the field and off the field. He's a good dude. I like him. He's a real tough competitor. He's just a classy dude all around. I respect him.

"Any time you can take a sure Hall of Famer down, it's always some fun."

Lions personnel: Safety Louis Delmas and wide receiver Calvin Johnson have both said they want to play Thursday. Johnson sat out the Cleveland game with a bruised knee. The injury is not considered serious.

Delmas is on a limited practice schedule to save his ailing left knee for the regular season. Delmas is less likely to play than Johnson. A decision on both could come down to how they look in pre-game warm-ups.

Rookie Darius Slay will get his second start at cornerback, opposite Chris Houston.

Veteran backup Shaun Hill was held out of practice the last two days. No. 3 quarterback Kellen Moore got more practice time than usual with the No. 1 offense.

Schwartz's statement that Ashlee Palmer has the lead to start at outside linebacker along with Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy leaves right tackle and right guard on the offensive line as the last two starting jobs that have to be settled.