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O'HARA'S BURNING QUESTIONS: What does slow start mean for Lions?

Burning questions –What a 24-0 blitz led by Tom Brady means for the Lions' going forward; the offense stalling and defense stumbling before a rally; some good signs – there really were a few – and Ameer Abdullah being the brightest spot in the New England Patriots' 30-28 win over the Detroit Lions in preseason Game 3 at Ford Field Friday night:

Question: The third game is supposed to be the dress rehearsal for the regular season. What did it mean that the Patriots roared to a 24-0 lead with 59 seconds left in the first quarter? Is that a sign that the Lions aren't ready for the regular season?

Answer: One things is for sure: The Lions aren't ready to beat the New England Patriots when Tom Brady is running the offense. And it could be that nobody is going to beat the defending Super Bowl champions.

But that's no solace for the Lions for what happened in the first quarter. They were ineffective on offense and defense. They didn't get anything going until late in the first half. 

View in-game photos from the Detroit Lions' preseason Week 3 game vs. New England Patriots.

Even though they rallied to take the lead and ultimately lost on a field goal with two seconds left, the way they got steamrollered raises legitimate questions about whether they're ready for the start of the regular season – especially with a tough start at home against the Cardinals and on the road against the Giants in the first two games.

There's work to do. That's for sure.

Q. Comeback: Doesn't that mean something?

A. Yes, and the Lions get credit for that, even if a lot of it was done against the Patriots' backups – and with Brady on the bench. They came back to take the lead with Matthew Stafford leading two TD drives, and Jake Rudock leading two in relief.

But the way the Patriots dominated the game when Brady was in at quarterback meant more than anything.

Q. Sad stat: What was the worst stat of the first quarter except for the score?

A. It was 1 and 1. The Lions had one first down in the first 15 minutes, and the Patriots had one penalty.

That didn't tell the whole story, of course. The 24-0 score did that. The Patriots dominated the quarter. They had a 196-32 advantage in yards gained.

As one-sided as the quarter was, the Lions' ineffectiveness on offense and defense, and the Patriots' discipline while gaining yards almost at will stood out.

While the Lions were hurting themselves with a lost fumble by Golden Tate on their first possession that the Patriots converted into their second TD for a 13-0 lead, the Patriots were methodical and played with precision. It looked almost like a scrimmage for them.

Q. Great stat – Tom Brady: He wasn't perfect, but he was close. In the first quarter he completed 10 of 11 passes for 157 yards and two TDs and had the maximum passer rating of 158.3 under the NFL formula. Overall in the first half he completed 12 of 15 for 174 yards and an interception. His overall rating was 126.8.

Didn't Brady look good for a 40-year-old quarterback?

A.  He looked good for any age. That's why he's a quarterback for the ages.

Q. **Good signs: Were there any for the Lions? 


A. Yes, and the comeback was one of them, but they got overshadowed by being 24 points behind before they got anything going and started making stops on defense.

Q. Defense: The Patriots got big chunks against the Lions while Brady was in the game in the first half. They had a 27-yard run and pass plays of 23, 31 and 32 yards. Was it just the Patriots' offense, or did the Lions' defense contribute to its demise?

A. It was both. There were times early in the game when it looked like the Lions were still shifting at the snap, which left gaps for the Patriots to exploit.

On Chris Hogan's first TD catch, he beat rookie linebacker Jarrad Davis with an in cut, then a cut to the outside that left Davis scrambling to catch up and Hogan wide open for an easy romp into the end zone. On his second TD, Hogan caught the ball over Nevin Lawson, with Tavon Wilson also nearby.

And on Mike Gillislee's one-yard run around right end that made it 21-0, the Patriots had everybody blocked. Nobody touched the runner.

Q. Good signs, again: What were they?

A. First was an 80-yard drive to the Lions' first touchdown late in the first half. Stafford hit Marvin Jones Jr. for the score to make it 24-7. At least it got the Lions on the board.

Stafford led another good TD drive at the start of the second half – 88 yards on nine plays, with a 16-yard catch and run by Dwayne Washington for the score to cut the deficit to 24-14. Rudock led the two drives in the second half that got the Lions in the lead.

And sticking with the offense, Ameer Abdullah got the run game going a little bit at the end of the half, and added to it at the start of the second half.

And the defense gets some credit. It protected the end zone after the first quarter – but with Brady on the bench.

Q. Abdullah: It was his first extended play of the preseason. What did he show?

A. He had 10 carries for 33 yards in the first half, and three more carries for 27 yards in the third quarter before going out for good. It doesn't seem like much – 13 carries, 60 yards and 4.6 yards per carry – but he got some yards on his own.

On plays where the offensive line didn't get a lot of movement, Abdullah got extra yards.

He looks healthy and ready to go for the regular season.

That might be the best thing to happen in the preseason.

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