This one is pretty straightforward.
Terrible ball security by the Patriots, with three fumbles -- by rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld, second-year running back Brandon Bolden and third-year running back Shane Vereen. Add in a Tom Brady interception on a pass intended for rookie receiver Aaron Dobson, and it was ugly.
On the Brady-to-Dobson interception, it’s one of those plays where it was difficult to decipher what mostly led to the end result. Could Dobson have fought through traffic? Could Brady, who appeared to be throwing to a spot, have made a better decision? Or was it simply good defense?
Regardless, this isn’t the type of offensive football the Patriots hoped to play. A team isn’t going to win many games, especially on the road, playing this sloppily.
One positive that coaches will probably see when they review the first half: Rookie receivers Kenbrell Thompkins (drop) and Dobson both had a play or two that didn't go as planned, yet both showed toughness to come back and make some plays. That’s a big part of what the preseason is about, especially for rookies.
Still, the overall feel brought back memories of the Patriots’ third preseason game against the Lions here in 2011. That game wasn't pretty either. The Patriots went on to win 13 games that season, so it's a reminder to keep these games in their proper context.
Now for the defense.
If there was a primary positive in this game, it was the performance on third down. The unit stiffened when it had to and kept the Patriots in the game. It wasn’t all perfect -- running back Reggie Bush’s 67-yard catch-and-run on third-and-10 was a big play to set up the Lions’ first field goal -- but that’s the overall type of effort required when the offense is having a tough day.
Yes, it helped that the Lions didn’t have receiver Calvin Johnson, who didn’t suit up. But it’s also worth noting that the Patriots didn’t have defensive tackle Vince Wilfork on the field and that linebacker Jerod Mayo played only in the dime package.
No major injuries for the Patriots, who are expected to play their starters into the third quarter.
The Lions get the ball to open the third quarter.