Tom Brady comes out firing as Patriots starters dominate Lions in Detroit
DETROIT — Tom Brady and the Patriots tuned up the Lions last night in Motown.
If this was indeed their final preseason audition before the Sept. 7 opener against the Chiefs, the Patriots surely looked like the juggernaut that has a chance to repeat as Super Bowl champions.
The Patriots won, 30-28, though the starters left the game in the second quarter with a 24-7 lead.
Brady was 12-of-15 for 174 yards and two touchdowns, though his night ended oddly when he forced a deep ball to Chris Hogan that was intercepted in the end zone by Glover Quin. Hogan didn’t get all the way through his route and was nowhere near the throw’s final destination on a first-and-10 heave from the Lions’ 38-yard line.
Aside from the largely meaningless mistake, Brady was on fire with his heavy artillery. Hogan caught four passes for 70 yards, and he scored two touchdowns in the opening 3:30 of the first quarter. Julian Edelman had three catches for 52 yards on the opening drive before he was carted into the locker room with a right knee injury.
Danny Amendola (two receptions, 27 yards), Rob Gronkowski (1-for-9), Brandin Cooks (1-for-9) and James White (1-for-8) also caught passes from Brady. Mike Gillislee added eight carries for 38 yards, a touchdown and a 2-point conversion during his preseason debut with the starters.
The Patriots jumped all over the Lions before anyone in the building even broke a sweat. Upon receiving the opening kickoff, Brady completed all four pass attempts for 59 yards and an easy 7-yard touchdown to Hogan for a 7-0 lead. The brisk seven-play, 75-yard drive concluded with 11:51 left in the quarter.
The Lions didn’t exactly roar back. Golden Tate caught an 8-yard pass from Matthew Stafford, but Malcolm Butler punched out the ball that was recovered by Jordan Richards at the Lions’ 32. On the first play, Brady uncorked a smooth 32-yard touchdown pass to Hogan down the left sideline for a 13-0 lead, as Stephen Gostkowski pulled the extra point to the left.
Scoring touchdowns 21 seconds apart, the Pats kept the momentum intact by forcing a three-and-out on the ensuing series. Brady made a strong third-and-4 delivery to Amendola for a 31-yard gain that keep the drive intact.
Two plays later, Gronkowski drew his second defensive flag of the night, and the pass interference set up the Pats at the Lions’ 12. After two White runs for 11 yards, Gillislee got his first carry of the preseason and followed blocks by James O’Shaughnessy and James Develin for a 1-yard score with 6:29 left in the opening quarter.
After the Lions were flagged for illegal formation, Bill Belichick opted for a 2-point try, and Gillislee hit the end zone again to make it 21-0.
Brady, who was 10-of-11 for 157 yards in the opening quarter, capped the first frame with a fourth consecutive scoring drive, as Gostkowski’s 46-yard field goal pushed the lead to 24-0.
Brady’s pair of second-quarter drives stalled without any points, though Eric Rowe gave the offense a chance when he intercepted Stafford and returned it to the Pats’ 49. But Brady’s deep heave was snared by Quin.
The defensive starters remained on the field for the next series when Stafford finally broke through. He completed four consecutive passes for 70 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown to Marvin Jones. It appeared Butler thought Jones was setting up a back-shoulder route and lost his leverage before Jones beat him down the right sideline to haul in the score that made it 24-7.
Stafford was 11-of-17 for 125 yards, a touchdown and a pick against the Pats starting defense. He played one more series against the backups and was 4-of-5 for 65 yards and a touchdown to Dwayne Washington.
Jake Rudock kept the comeback alive in the battle of the backups by leading a pair of touchdown drives, as he delivered an 11-yard scoring toss to Jared Abbrederis and Washington’s 1-yard touchdown run made it 28-24 midway through the fourth.
Jimmy Garoppolo was 7-of-12 for 84 yards. The Patriots didn’t move the chains on his first three drives with the lead, but he went 3-of-6 for 38 yards on his fourth chance. D.J. Foster chipped in with six carries for 30 yards, including a 13-yard gain on fourth-and-5 that set up Gostkowski’s 25-yard field goal to trim the deficit to 28-27 with 3:41 to play.
Garoppolo later delivered a 32-yard pass to tight end Cody Hollister to set up Gostkowski’s 45-yard game-winning field goal with 2 seconds left.