The Detroit Lions showed resilience in a thrilling matchup at Ford Field to kick off the preseason against the New York Giants. The Lions’ young guns painted a hopeful picture for the season ahead, defeating the Giants 21-16
Lions Lean on Backups: Nate Sudfeld was the starting QB for the Lions, which was not much of a surprise for many. Starters like Jared Goff, David Montgomery, Marvin Jones Jr. and the entire first unit of the offensive line supported their teammates from the sidelines. This gave rookies and those looking to earn a roster spot a golden opportunity to put their abilities on film.
1st Half Highlights:
The Lions got off to a tough start, as Sudfeld’s first pass ended in the hands of the opposition for an interception. The Giants used this momentum en-route to a 48-yard field goal by Graham Gano. But the Lions weren’t to be held down, with rookies Dylan Drummond and Antoine Green showcasing their potential early. Still, there were growing pains, as miscommunication between Sudfeld and Jameson Williams temporarily thwarted any offensive progress. By the end of the quarter, the Giants had a slight edge at 6-3.
A refreshed Lions’ defense displayed their depth, with notable appearances from rookie DT Brodric Martin and LBs Jalen Reeves-Maybin and James Houston. The latter pair, along with a timely sack by Christian Covington, kept the Giants on their heels. On the Lions’ offensive front, Mohamed Ibrahim’s powerful runs, despite an injury scare, and Sudfeld’s connection with Antoine Green for a 24-yard completion, were bright spots. Nonetheless, the Lions went into halftime trailing 13-3 after a Giants’ touchdown.
1st Half Extended Points:
- Despite some missteps, the Lions showced offensive efficiency, outdoing the Giants in total yards (203 to 108).
- Sudfeld’s 12 completions on 23 attempts for 165 yards was marred by two interceptions.
- Defensive rookies made their presence felt, but Benito Jones and James Houston penetration stood out.
1st Half Key Stats:
- Jahmyr Gibbs displayed versatility, rushing for 19 yards over six attempts and making a notable 18-yard catch.
- James Mitchell emerged as a potential aerial threat, leading the team in receiving with two catches for 44 yards.
- On defense, Jack Campbell’s dynamic play resulted in four tackles, with Brian Branch chipping in with three significant stops.
Dynamic Defense Drives 2nd Half:
The Lions, especially on defense, returned with a vengeance. Brandon Joseph’s tenacity and Julian Okwara’s first sack were standout moments. Maurice Alexander’s electrifying 95-yard punt return touchdown and the subsequent 2-point conversion to Jameson Williams narrowed the Giants’ lead and ignited the crowd. Offensively, Chase Cota emerged as a dependable target, while Devine Ozigbo’s attempts to penetrate the end zone fell short. However, the Lions inched ahead, 14-13.
Adrian Martinez initiated a promising drive, connecting with Chase Cota for an 18-yard gain, which unfortunately got nullified by a penalty. Yet, the Lions’ defense continued their resilience, with pivotal plays from LB Trevor Nowaske and another key sack by Romeo Okwara. A vital 47-yard field goal by the Giants’ Graham Gano briefly swung the game. Still, Martinez’s agility and timely plays, ending in a quarterback sneak for a touchdown, solidified the Lions’ lead. Julian Okwara’s third sack and an interception by Brandon Joseph sealed the Lions’ victory.
Key Game Stats:
- Devine Ozigbo emerged as the top rusher with 31 yards from 11 attempts.
- Quarterback Insights: Sudfeld delivered 15/28 for 184 yards, while Martinez chipped in with 37 yards and a touchdown.
- Chase Cota proved indispensable, amassing 60 yards on 4 receptions.
- On defense, Julian Okwara dominated with 3 sacks, while Anthony Pittman, Jack Campbell, and Jalen Reeves-Maybin showcased their defensive skills with 4 tackles each.
Starting their preseason on a triumphant note, the Detroit Lions hint at a season filled with possibilities.
For more from our Detroit Lions beat writer, Matt Broder, check him out on Twitter here: @mattbro21
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Original Photo Credit: © David Reginek – USA TODAY Sports