The Detroit Lions sat a lot of their starters in the preseason finale Friday night against the Indianapolis Colts at Ford Field, and despite jumping out to an early lead, Detroit's reserves couldn't hold the lead late and dropped their third and final game of the preseason, 27-17.
Despite the loss, the Lions put together their most consistent performance of the preseason, especially through three quarters of play.
Tim Boyle started the game at quarterback for Detroit and led his first touchdown drive of the preseason on Detroit's second possession. The drive lasted 14 plays and traveled 75 yards taking nearly eight minutes off the clock. Boyle was a perfect 4-for-4 on third down on the drive, and capped it off with a 15-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Quintez Cephus that put the Lions up 7-3. Boyle worked just two series after appearing to injure his throwing hand, finishing 7-of-9 passing for 53 yards with a 128.2 passer rating.
Not to be outdone, David Blough took over at quarterback on the Lions' third possession, and he orchestrated his own 14-play touchdown drive, using both his arm and legs to navigate Detroit down to the Colts' 1-yard line, where running back Godwin Igwebuike scored on 4th and goal to give Detroit a 14-6 lead.
Detroit led 14-9 at halftime, but added to the lead early in the third quarter after cornerback Corn Elder intercepted a Brett Hundley pass at the Colts' 36-yard line. Zane Gonzalez added three points to the Lions tally with a 28-yard field goal to give Detroit a 17-9 advantage.
The Colts tied the game at 17-17 in the fourth quarter on a Deon Jackson 3-yard touchdown grab, and a Jackson run on the two-point conversion.
Indianapolis took the lead for good, 20-17, in fourth quarter on Rodrigo Blankenship's fourth field goal of the game following a Blough interception at the Lions' 31-yard line. They rounded out the scoring with a 42-yard Jackson touchdown run late.
Detroit was outscored 18-0 by the Colts in the fourth quarter.
Blough finished completing 13 of his 21 passes for 117 yards with no touchdowns, one interception and a 57.0 passer rating.
Receiver competition: Head coach Dan Campbell said Wednesday the final couple spots at wide receiver were very much up in the air heading into roster cuts early next week. Did Friday's preseason finale change anything?
Tyrell Williams, Kalif Raymond and Amon-Ra St. Brown appear to be locks. If the team keeps five receivers on the initial 53-man roster, players like Breshad Perriman, Cephus and Tom Kennedy, among others, will be talked about this weekend ahead of Tuesday's cuts.
Perriman had one catch for six yards Friday, but also should have caught two more he let bounce off his hands.
Cephus made a number of good plays on the night, and finished with three receptions for 35 yards, including that 15-yard score on a slant from Boyle.
Kennedy, who entered the game leading Detroit in receiving through the first two games of the preseason, did not record a catch.
Injury report: The last thing anyone wants to see is an injury in the final preseason game.
Unfortunately, Detroit didn't get through Friday unscathed on the injury front. Tackle Dan Skipper got rolled up on in the second quarter and had to be carted off the field with what appeared to be a lower leg injury.
Boyle left the game after just two series and looked to have a brace or wrap on his right throwing hand on the sideline.
Next up: vs. San Francisco, Sun., Sept. 12, 1 p.m. (Week 1).