FIRST DOWN: RUDOCK SHARP
After a very solid performance Friday night, there's little question who Detroit's backup quarterback will be Week 1 vs. Arizona.
Jake Rudock has a firm grasp on the job after nearly guiding Detroit to a come-from-behind win in an eventual 30-28 loss.
Rudock made great decisions with the football, and also showed an ability to make plays with his legs. He led the Lions on two second half touchdown drives. He finished 10-of-13 passing for 113 yards with an 11-yard touchdown to Jared Abbrederis. He had a quarterback rating of 128.0.
He also scrambled 16 yards for a first down on 3rd and 7 to keep a scoring drive alive in the third quarter.
"He played well," head coach Jim Caldwell said of Rudock's performance. "He made good decisions, they moved the ball consistently with his group and I thought he managed the game well.
"He was patient, took advantage of the opportunities where he could use his legs. He runs well, obviously, but he also delivered some passes along the way. I thought overall he did a nice job."
The Lions drafted Brad Kaaya in the sixth round to compete to be Stafford's backup, but after three preseason games, Rudock seems to be the guy.
SECOND DOWN: ROOKIES LEARNING LESSONS
There's an adjustment period every rookie has to go through when they get to the NFL. Guys are bigger and faster, and schemes are much more complicated. For a veteran quarterback like Tom Brady, rookie defenders are typically easy pickings.
Lions rookie linebacker Jarrad Davis found that out the hard way. He got isolated on the inside against some of New England's talented and shifty receivers, and Brady took advantage of it.
"Isolated on the inside and a guy beat him across his face, that kind of thing, but those are the things that you learn, that's what the preseason is for," Caldwell said of Davis.
Davis was never going to come into the NFL and be perfect. He's going to learn some things the hard way, but this tape will be a good teaching moment for him.
"It's hard to explain, but I know inside what I learned," Davis said. "There's never anything too small to cover, you know. I think that's the biggest thing, you know, and we knew that coming in. But that's something that really stood out tonight. You've got to know every little thing that you can."
On the other side of the ball, rookie receiver Kenny Golladay had a second straight quiet performance after that two-touchdown game in the preseason opener.
He was thrown to three times, and caught just one pass for two yards. He had a chance for a 50-50 ball deep down the sideline, but couldn't bring it down.
"I think we have some young guys that learned some lessons," Caldwell said. "We'll get better for it."
THIRD DOWN: RIDDICK'S RETURN
Running back Theo Riddick went from a no-contact jersey at practice a couple days ago to game action against the defending Super Bowl champs.
The Lions have been cautious with Riddick so far through training camp after he underwent wrist surgery in the offseason. The Lions eased Riddick into his first game action since last December, giving him just one rushing attempt (for no yards) and one pass (incomplete).
But Riddick's involvement in the game is a good sign he's ramping his activity up and hopefully should be good to go for the Lions Week 1 matchup vs. Arizona in a couple weeks.
"It was good (to get Riddick in)," Caldwell said. "It was good to get him in there and give him a chance to move around a little bit and I thought he was in position."
Caldwell said he thought Riddick had a chance for a big play if a pass intended for him in the first half hadn't been knocked down at the line of scrimmage.
"Theo, I thought, did well for his first day out there," Caldwell said.
FOURTH DOWN: ROOM TO IMPROVE
The Patriots starters worked over the Lions starters pretty good Friday night. The Lions didn't record a first down until the second quarter, while New England scored on their first four possessions to jump out to a 24-0 lead.
Too many penalties, costly turnovers, patchy defense and not being good enough on third down were all issues for the Lions. The good thing is this is Preseason Week 3 and not the regular season.
"You know, just got to be better on third down earlier in the game," quarterback Matthew Stafford said. "We've got to stay on the field. Obviously, the turnovers hurt us, the fumble, and then obviously, the one—the ball that I threw that got tipped and ended up in their hands, so just got to do a better job of holding on to the ball and converting third downs."
Caldwell told reporters earlier this week that the Patriots were going to challenge his team, and he was going to get a really good barometer of where they stood with the regular season just a couple weeks away.
"You can't ask for anything better than that, especially in a preseason game and especially be able to know where you are, know what the issues are, know what things you need to work on and know where teams are going to attack you," Davis said.
"How you're going to react when you get attacked in that way. So, I'm extremely excited for how that organization carries themselves, how Tom (Brady) plays, how everyone else around him plays. You know, just watching it on film, you can see that that's a team that really takes ownership in what they do, each and every day. Today, they took extreme ownership and made it happen."