The goal in the preseason for most NFL teams is to give young players a chance to get acclimated to the NFL, for players on the bubble to make plays and try to earn a spot on the roster or practice squad, and most importantly to stay healthy.
Walking off a winner, like the Detroit Lions did Friday night, 21-16, in their preseason debut against the Giants is an added bonus.
After falling behind 13-3 at the half, Detroit got a huge spark from second-year wide receiver Maurice Alexander who used two different spin moves to find his way into space and return a third-quarter punt 95 yards for a touchdown. Alexander has been good through the first two weeks of training camp and put an exclamation point on it Friday.
A Nate Sudfeld two-point conversion completion to wide receiver Jameson Williams pulled Detroit to within 13-11.
A Parker Romo 28-yard field goal following a 14-play, 46-yard drive late in the third quarter gave the Lions their first lead of the game.
New York retook the lead with just under eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter with a Graham Gano 47-yard field goal. Credit Lions reserve quarterback Adrian Martinez for orchestrating an 11-play, 69-yard drive that culminated in his 1-yard touchdown run with less than two minutes to play that proved to be the game winner.
Detroit's reserves on defense were able to shut New York down from there, and the Lions begin the preseason 1-0 as they welcome the Jacksonville Jaguars into Allen Park for joint practices next week ahead of their preseason matchup next Saturday.
Impressive showing: In a deep edge rusher room where some tough decisions might have to be made at the end of the camp, fourth-year outside linebacker Julian Okwara had a nice showing against the Giants as he fights for inclusion on the initial 53-man roster.
Okwara notched three sacks and had a couple other nice rushes to make his impact felt. His third sack was late in the game that set up a 4th and 15 New York wasn't able to convert, which ended the game. Okwara has battled injuries for most of his first three seasons in the league but has shown ability when healthy.
Brother Romeo Okwara also had a sack in the game, giving the Okwara brothers a total of four sacks for the contest.
Williams watch: Lions head coach Dan Campbell said he was going to give Williams a lot of game reps in the preseason after Williams missed most last season rehabbing a knee injury and will miss the first six games of this season due to a suspension.
Williams finished the game with two receptions for 18 yards and had a nice one-handed two-point conversion catch in the third quarter. He was targeted seven times and caught two of them. He also had a drop on a deep ball in the first quarter that likely would have been a touchdown.
Both of quarterback Nate Sudfeld's interceptions came throwing to Williams. The first he was hit just as he tried to throw deep to Williams forcing a short ball, and the second ball he threw behind Williams over the middle.
Key stat: The Lions' defense had nine different players record a tackle for loss – Julian Okwara (3), Brian Branch, Levi Onwuzurike, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, John Cominsky, Malcolm Rodriguez, Benito Jones, Brandon Joseph and Romeo Okwara.
Injury report: Backup center Ross Pierschbacher left the game in the first quarter and did not return.
Up next: Sat., Aug. 19 (1 p.m.) vs. Jaguars