By Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry
WORST TIMING FOR FIRST GAFFE
Rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld, who’s been almost flawless (to the layman’s eye) this camp, fumbled at the Lions 10-yard line after a 20-yard reception down the seam. It ended the Patriots first drive and Detroit turned it into three points eight plays later.
WORST RESULT FOR EARLY ACTION
Running back Brandon Bolden, fighting for a spot on the roster, got some run with the 1s in the first quarter. His slashing 13-yard run opening the Patriots drive was waved off by a hold. Then, after catching a screen, he was met immediately and fumbled inside the Patriots 20. Detroit missed the field goal.
BEST AFTER-WHISTLE DEFENSE
On each of the two Patriots fumbles, overaggressive Lions defensive lineman cleared out around the pile after the whistle blew, drawing 15-yard penalties and backing up the Detroit offense just a bit.
VERY LIGHT ON THE MAYO
Jerod Mayo only played three plays last week against Tampa and, in the early going against Detroit, he was only on the field in dime defensive packages with Jamie Collins on the field in his place.
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WORST WAY TO STOP TURNING THE BALL OVER
On a 3rd-and-15 play from deep in Patriots territory, Shane Vereen took the handoff on a draw play and promptly coughed it up. Lions corner Bill Bentley forced it out, but Vereen will be kicking himself for giving one away in the shadow of his own end zone on a play when there was a low probability he would actually pick up the first down.
BEST MOVE OFF THE LINE
Kenbrell Thompkins continues to impress. He made a move on corner Chris Houston that left the corner looking lost at the line of scrimmage. With a jab inside, Thompkins quickly made a move outside and around Houston for a big pickup. It was his second big gainer of the game. The first came on some similarly fancy footwork at the line of scrimmage.
BEST WAY TO QUELLS SPECIAL-TEAMS WORRIES
Stephen Gostkowski banged home a 31-yard field goal to put the Patriots on the board in the second quarter. He's now 3-of-6 on field goals this preseason.
WORST WAY TO LEAVE THE FIELD
Martell Owens was driven into the bowels of Ford Field on a cart in the second quarter. After taking a handoff from Matthew Stafford, he almost immediately collapsed and voluntarily laid the ball on the turf. He appeared to have a knee injury, which couldn't have been helped by the mass of humanity that defended upon him to recover the fumble. Because of a rule concerning injured players who "give themselves up," the Lions retained possession.
WORST ANGRY OLD MAN ACT
He's only 27, but Willie Young did his best Clint Eastwood impersonation when he grabbed Tom Brady by the collar, held on tight and then wagged his finger in No. 12's face after an incompletion deep in Patriots territory. It garnered yet another personal foul penalty for the Lions, their third of the night.
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WORST MOMENTUM STOPPER
A nine-play, 80-yard drive directed by Kellen Moore against a few of the Patriots starters and most of their backups opened the second half and pushed the score to 23-3. Joique Bell ran wild and showed up some shoddy tackling from the second-teamers.
WORST USE OF LASER ROCKET ARM
Ryan Mallett was given the third quarter and – while he did make a nice play with his feet running for a 12-yard gain on a third down – he had a hard time keeping the ball on the planet. A fourth-and-goal attempt to Josh Boyce was clocked at 93.
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WORST HIT TO DEFENSIVE TACKLE DEPTH
The Patriots aren't very deep at defensive tackle. They have Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly. After that, no one is really proven. Rookie Cory Grissom has a chance to fill a backup spot on the defensive line, but he left Thursday's game early in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be a left leg injury. The undrafted d-tackle out of South Florida was replaced by Anthony Rashad White.
BEST ATTEMPT AT FINISHING STRONG
With 32 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, fullback James Develin caught a pass in the flat from Ryan Mallett and ran nine-yards into the end zone for New England's only touchdown of the night. Develin couldn't convert a 4th-and-1 play in the second quarter, but he caught two passes from Mallett near the end of the game to show some solid hands out of the backfield.