The Lions visited Heinz field and not only had to contend with the Steelers but Mother Nature reared her ugly head and forced a 73 minute weather delay due to lightning and excessive rain.
2 areas jumped out at me from the game, the play of the starting defensive line and the play of Stafford and his developing chemistry with Calvin Johnson.
Kyle Vanden Bosh led the charge of the D-line and showed why Coach Jim Schwartz was on his front porch at 12:01 of the Free Agency signing period. His motor was revved up and pumping from the opening play as he made 2 plays in the backfield on Pittsburgs 1st offensive series. His play was contagious as his defensive end counterpart Cliff Avril followed up with a nice speed rush sack on Leftwich. Holding the Steelers to 25 yds in the 1st quarter was a very nice way to start out. It also seems our defense might be able to generate some turnovers as they forced 2 fumbles early on. Of course I didn’t see the linebackers or secondary do much of anything thru out the entire game but that was more or less expected. Of course no pre-season game is complete without a key injury and up and coming 2nd year 1st rnd Linebacker Jordan Dizon obliged by going down in the 2nd quarter with an apparent knee injury. With Jim Schwartz offering the comment that it could be of the serious variety but will have to wait for the full medical evaluation to come.
The Lions offense tried setting the tone early with a heavy dose of newly minted 1st round RB pick Jahvid Best between the tackles and the results were far from overwhelming. The offensive line as usual needs to show some improvement for Best to do better than 4 rushes for 10 yards early on featuring a failed 3rd and short rush on the first drive. Best did show off his speed on his best carry of the night when he got around the corner and down the sidelines in a display all Lions fans hope to see plenty of this season. Best also showed a very nice acumen for catching the ball and picking up his blitzing blocking assignments on passing downs, 2 crucial areas for any running back starting of in the NFL.
Matthew Stafford showed he is very capable of making that big 2nd year leap that so many Lions fans are craving from our bonus baby 1st round pick. Everyone knows he has a rocket of an arm and that was clearly on display with one laser pass after another. However, I came away most impressed with his precision and accuracy as he went 8 for 11 for 68 yards and a touchdown to who else but Calvin Johnson. I only counted 2 throws that were off target, one that went off the receivers fingertips and was intercepted and an under throw to Johnson in the end zone. It was great to see him targeting the Lions top threat in Calvin Johnson so often including 3 end zone throws that led to the td.
It wasn’t all roses though with the back ups needing a lot of work in an effort to build up much needed depth on the defensive end. The 1st team only committed 2 penalties when they were in but the rest of the team drew an alarming 9 more the rest of the game to go with all of there missed tackles that let Pittsburgh’s back ups march down the field at will.
All in All a very good overall result for the beginning of Pre-season football and a sign of good things to come for the up coming season.