What happened: It was a short but productive stint for most of the Lions’ offensive and defensive starters in Thursday night’s 23-3 preseason win over the New York Jets
Calvin Johnson took the night off, and quarterback Matthew Stafford played just one series, but it was a productive series, as the starting offense needed just five plays and 71 yards to get into the end zone on a 35-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate.
Tate caught both passes thrown his way on his first and only series, one for 22 yards and the second for the touchdown.
Stafford finished the night 2-for-2 for 57 yards with a touchdown.
“You know, the precision was good,” head coach Jim Caldwell told Fox 2 at halftime of the first drive. “I think the rhythm was good, we didn’t have a whole lot of miscues, and it was pretty smooth.”
Rookie running back
Ameer Abdullah, who the Lions drafted in the second round this year, had a terrific debut. He rushed seven times for 67 yards (9.6 average), including a 45-yard burst up the middle in the first quarter.
Most of the starters on defense played just one series. The Jets were able to convert one third down and one fourth down against them, but the defense finally shut the door and forced a 34-yard Nick Folk field goal.
That ended up being the only scoring of the night for the Jets.
The interception was a poor decision by Moore as he tossed the ball up for grabs on a third down play in the end zone just before the half ended. It came after Moore help orchestrate a 16-play, 80-yard drive down to the Jets 10-yard line.
The second half started with a Jets fumble on their second play. The Lions made them pay one play later with a 20-yard touchdown pass from
Dan Orlovsky to Greg Salas that gave the Lions a 17-3 lead.
Orlovsky finished the game 5-of-11 passing for 96 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions.
Kyle Brindza added field goals of 49 and 41 yards for the Lions in the second half.
What didn’t happen: The Jets offense could never find its footing.
It’s the preseason, granted, and starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick played just one series, but there’s a lot of bad film the Jets offensive coaches have to go over in the meeting rooms Friday morning.
The Jets amassed just 123 total yards to the Lions’ 428.
Give the Lions defense credit. They made things pretty tough for Jets backup quarterback Bryce Petty, who finished 10-of-18 passing for just 50 yards.
Critical moment: It only took a seven-second span in the third quarter for the game to swing significantly in the Lions’ favor.
It took backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky just one play to make the Jets pay for the mistake. He hit receiver Greg Salas on a terrific back-shoulder throw from 20 yards out to give the Lions a 17-3 lead.
Key stat: The Jets offense had a tough go of it all night.
Not only did they fail to get into the end zone, but they also converted just three of their 12 third down attempts.
The Lions, on the other hand, were 9-for-16 on the money down.
Play of the game: There’s been a lot of talk in Allen Park about Abdullah bringing the big-play back into the Lions’ run game.
The team finished 28th in rushing last year, averaged just 3.6 yards per carry and had only six rushes of 20-plus yards.
On just his third carry, Abdullah went outside the right tackle, made one cut, and sprinted off 45-yards to the Jets 37-yard line.
Abdullah got terrific blocks from tight end
Brandon Pettigrew and receiver Lance Moore to help spring him.
The play helped lead to a 28-yard
Matt Prater field goal to give the Lions a 10-3 lead.
Player of the game: Greg Salas last played a regular-season game as a member of the New York Jets in 2014.
He played 10 games with New York last season and had eight catches for 167 yards and no touchdowns.
Salas wasn’t re-signed by the Jets this offseason, instead signing a one-year deal with the Lions.
Thursday was just a preseason game, but it had to feel good for Salas to catch five passes for 92 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown against his former team.