Patriots Live Blog: New England’s Flat Performance Leads to 34-10 Loss to Lions


Patriots Live Blog: New England's Flat Performance Leads to 34-10 Loss to Lions

Final, Lions 34-10: The Lions were ready for this one, and they're a team with nine- or (maybe) 10-win potential if Matthew Stafford can play a full season. The Patriots looked flat all over the place, and it's a heck of a time for a reality check. They got beat by team that put them on a pedestal, and there can be a lot of lessons learned after the loss to the Lions.

Fourth quarter, 0:52, Lions 34-10: This is like an NBA game with the PA system playing music with the game taking place.

Brandon Tate dances way too much on punt returns. Coaches absolutely hate that stuff.

I've said it a few times in the last month, but Ryan Mallett looks outstanding when he steps up in the pocket and delivers his throws with confidence. Otherwise, he sails his throws or relies too heavily on running backs over the middle. Typical rookie stuff, though. But the big throws look special.

Fourth quarter, 3:33, Lions 34-10: Ryan Mallett checked down to Richard Medlin for six yards on his first play, and then he threw three consecutive incompletions. Nothing looked very good there, sticking with the theme of the night.

Former Patriots quarterback Zac Robinson is taking over for the Lions. Robinson was awful in the team's 2010 training camp before they released him.

Fourth quarter, 4:11, Lions 34-10: Ryan Mallett has taken over for Brian Hoyer. He'll probably only get one quality drive at this juncture, so let's see what he's got.

Fourth quarter, 5:49, Lions 34-10: Brian Hoyer's drive stalled inside the 10-yard line as his fourth-down pass sailed wide of Matt Slater, who had a nice 53-yard catch and run earlier in the drive. Hoyer is 6 of 12 for 88 yards so far in this one. Nothing too great, but his night could have been a little better if it weren't for Chad Ochocinco's ugly drop on his first series.

Fourth quarter, 9:34, Lions 34-10: If the Lions' offense is going to be this good all season, Jim Schwartz needs to order his guys some dancing lessons, because their touchdown celebrations are downright ugly. Anyway, Drew Stanton hit Derrick Williams for a four-yard touchdown on fourth-and-2. Williams camped out in front of Darius Butler, who simply let him keep better position.

By the way, running back Ian Johnson got into the mix there. Remember him? After Boise State shocked Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, Johnson proposed to his cheerleader girlfriend on national TV. What a night that was.

End of third quarter, Lions 27-10: Julian Edelman went to the locker room after trainers looked at his hand and fingers, according to reporters on the scene. As talented as Edelman is, he's had durability issues since joining the Patriots in 2009.

Third quarter, 0:40, Lions 27-10: Brian Hoyer was joined by the second-stringers on that drive, and they punted after four plays. Let's see if that's it for the first-string defense, too.

Third quarter, 2:41, Lions 27-10: Nate Hughes let a touchdown pass bounce off his hands as Devin McCourty closed in for a big hit, and the football bounced high in the air and waited all day for Kyle Arrington to zero in for the pick.

Lions wideout Tim Toone was flagged for a personal foul after diving straight for Jerod Mayo's knees. That was a pathetically disgusting attempt by Toone to injure Mayo. There isn't a coach on the planet who would have taught him how to block like that. When a guy fighting for a job tries to take out a Pro Bowler, he should get cut the next day. Just no place for that garbage.

Third quarter, 8:39, Lions 27-10: The mistakes keep mounting. Chad Ochocinco dropped a perfect pass, which nearly got picked off, and Nate Solder got beat and allowed Brian Hoyer to take a hard shot in the lower back on a third-down incompletion. This is ugly with a capital UGG.

Third quarter, 9:06, Lions 27-10: Wes Welker suffered a neck injury while making a tackle after Tom Brady's interception, which makes the turnover look a whole lot more costly. Jonathan Wilhite also left the field with an injury on the Patriots' last defensive play. And Brian Hoyer has replaced a peeved Tom Brady at quarterback, though the rest of the starters are on the field.

Third quarter, 13:27, Lions 27-10: The Patriots couldn't do anything after a mixup on first down and went three-and-out. Taylor Price ran the wrong route on the first play of the half, and Tom Brady's passed sailed to the sideline.

Drew Stanton has taken over for Shaun Hill. Stanton, the team's third quarterback of the game, was the starter at Michigan State before graduating and giving way to Brian Hoyer.

Third quarter, 14:54, Lions 27-10: Darius Butler returned the second-half kickoff 12 yards to the 16. I've always been intrigued about Butler's return ability, but he's never gotten much of an opportunity. No matter what, it's a strong indication that Bill Belichick is looking for other avenues, and that's a bad sign for Brandon Tate.

Halftime, Lions 27-10: Aside from Aaron Hernandez (five receptions, 46 yards), Wes Welker (three receptions, 71 yards, one touchdown) and Julian Edelman's returns, the Patriots didn't really have anything to like in the first half. Credit the Lions for playing a tremendous half, but the Patriots weren't ready to compete with this Detroit team, and that's not a good thing.

What does Bill Belichick do from here? I'm thinking he sends the starters onto the field to tell them to accomplish something during their stay in Detroit. On the other hand, I wouldn't be shocked if he tells them they weren't prepared enough to belong on the field in the second half. Either way, Belichick could deliver a strong message.

Second quarter, 0:07, Lions 27-10: The Lions have scored 10 points in the last minute after Shaun Hill hit Aaron Brown for a nine-yard touchdown pass. It looked like Darius Butler or Patrick Chung was supposed to be responsible for Hill across the middle in New England's zone scheme there.

Jerod Mayo followed Brown to the flat and overpursued there, presumably because Butler was supposed to stay home on the inside. But Butler followed Will Heller to the end zone, where Chung was stationed. Of course, it's also possible that Butler was supposed to follow Heller, leaving Chung to roam the inside. Either way, the coverage was broken and it resulted in a touchdown.

Second quarter, 0:33, Lions 20-10: Tom Brady was intercepted down the left sideline on a pass for Chad Ochocinco. I don't know if the ball was underthrown, or if Ochocinco ran a route that was slightly off, but at the very least, the wideout should have come back a lot harder for that pass to make sure it wasn't intercepted.

Wes Welker gets bonus points for sticking Ricardo Silva on the return.

Second quarter, 1:06, Lions 20-10: Jason Hanson's 46-yard field goal pushed the lead back to double-digits. After the Patriots failed in their two-minute offense last week, I think they should use this opportunity to try it again.

Second quarter, 3:30, Lions 17-10: Matt Stafford's night is over after completing 12-of-14 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns. And obviously, one of those incompletions should have gone for a score. The Lions' starters are going to feel awful good about this one, but they need to prove their mental toughness next week by following this up with another solid performance to close out the preseason. You've always got to wonder about letdowns with young teams.

Second quarter, 3:53, Lions 17-10: The Patriots cherry-picked one there, as former Jets defensive back Erik Coleman bit hard on a play-action and allowed Wes Welker to run free up the right seam and catch a 44-yard touchdown. On one hand, the Patriots got some results there, and Tom Brady gets to head to the comforts of the sideline. On the other, I think Bill Belichick would have liked to see the offense work through some of the issues that have plagued them in this game. One big play on a blown coverage won't make the Patriots forget about their other issues with protection.

Second quarter, 6:14, Lions 17-3: Bill O'Brien is absolutely chewing out the offense on the sideline after another poor series. The Lions have been lining up Ndamukong Suh over Rich Ohrnberger, who has been vastly outmatched and nearly got Brady killed once. Suh and Logan Mankins got into it again after the whistle, and Mankins was handed a 15-yard penalty for yanking another defensive lineman's facemask. After that, Suh threw a punch into Mankins' face, but the official didn't see it. If they did, Suh could have been ejected.

I love the way Suh plays, both before and after the whistle. But he's already on the league's radar, and he doesn't need those fines to start turning into suspensions. He can't be the best defensive player in the league — that's his path right now — if he's watching games from his couch.

Second quarter, 8:36, Lions 17-3: In the "Things Worth Reading Into" Department, Julian Edelman replaced Brandon Tate as the kickoff returner and brought it back 32 yards.

Second quarter, 8:46, Lions 17-3: Kyle Arrington got brushed off the line by tight end Tony Scheffler, who beat Arrington up the seam for a 22-yard touchdown reception. That was too easy for the Lions.

This has obviously been a step back for New England's defense. The Lions, meanwhile, look like they're using this game as their preseason Super Bowl. You know this one means a lot to them, and they've been more than ready to play.

Second quarter, 10:16, Lions 10-3: Tom Brady rushed a third-down attempt, and the pass bounced on the turf before it could reach its destination to nowhere. Matt Slater was flagged for running out of bounds on punt coverage, which gives him two negative plays on two New England punts.

Second quarter, 11:30, Lions 10-3: Matt Light has been replaced at left tackle by rookie Nate Solder. I figured Light's night would be a short one, and he played well for two series. Now Solder gets a chance to line up against Detroit's ferocious line.

The Patriots announced Dan Connolly has an ankle injury.

Second quarter, 11:40, Lions 10-3: Kyle Arrington, who hilariously lined up at defensive end several times in 2010, recorded a third-down sack to give the Patriots their first stop of the game. Julian Edelman returned the punt eight yards to the New England 29, and he looked shifty like usual. If there's a competition between Edelman and Brandon Tate for one spot, Edelman has the edge so far in this one, though Tate hasn't gotten much help from his blockers. And Detroit's kickoff coverage has been flawless.

Second quarter, 14:56, Lions 10-3: Stephen Gostkowski's perfect preseason continued as he hit a 33-yard field goal. It's actually the first one he's taken that has been less than 40 yards.

First quarter, 0:31, Lions 10-0: It doesn't look like the Patriots' downfield passing attack will get a lot of work in this game because the Lions' pressure is making life miserable for Tom Brady. The Pats have altered their strategy in a big way on this drive, throwing three quick passes to Aaron Hernandez, who has been the Pats' brightest contributor in the opening quarter.

The right side of the Patriots' line has been bad so far, and it got worse for Dan Connolly, who left midway through the drive with a right leg injury. He was shown walking to the locker room with a trainer. Connolly looked to be in pain, but the trainer had a smile on his face, for whatever that might be worth. Connolly's backup would typically be Ryan Wendell, but he's still working his way back from an unknown injury. Rich Ohrnberger replaced Connolly in this one.

I guess this can also quell the speculation that Nate Solder could be the Patriots' answer at right guard. Solder has taken some snaps there, but I still thought that storyline was getting overblown.

First quarter, 7:27, Lions 10-0: This is why the Lions should contend for a playoff spot if Matt Stafford stays healthy. Stafford threw a perfect ball to Nate Burleson for a nine-yard touchdown. Burleson beat Kyle Arrington in the left seam. Stafford is 7-for-8 for 123 yards and one touchdown, and he'd be 8-for-8 with two scoring strikes if Burleson didn't drop a touchdown pass on the Lions' first drive.

First quarter, 9:10, Lions 3-0: There were some noteworthy things during the Patriot' first drive, which was derailed by a horrendous pass interference call on Chad Ochocinco, who got blown up in the secondary but managed to draw a flag. Matt Light started at left tackle, and Will Yeatman was on the field earlier than Lee Smith. Tom Brady was also smoked from behind by Cliff Avril, who forced an incompletion on a play that originally looked like a fumble. (Update: The play has since been ruled a sack and fumble.)

The Patriots punted it away to Stefan Logan, and Matt Slater and Sammy Morris missed their initial tackle attempts on the return. Slater has had a very good camp, but Logan is a tough guy to bring down.

Lastly, Brandon Tate's kickoff return was only 13 yards. The Lions kicked it short and covered it perfectly. Teams with superior coverage units will really be able to take advantage of this rule.

First quarter, 12:22, Lions 3-0: The Lions took advantage of a 37-yard gain on third down to extend their drive and put up the game's first score. Nate Burleson beat Devin McCourty down the right sideline, as McCourty appeared to stumble while trying to find the ball in the air. Not sure if he could have done much anyway beccause it was a perfectly thrown ball. Later in the drive, McCourty broke up a touchdown pass to Burleson, who beat the corner again but couldn't pull the ball in.

First quarter, 15:00, 0-0: Stephen Gostkowski took his first kickoff of the preseason, and it went for a touchback. Good sign for him. Likely a bad sign for rookie Chris Koepplin, who could get cut by Tuesday when teams must trim down to 80 players.

8:05 p.m.: The Patriots are in their white jerseys for the first time this preseason. Due to the heat last week, the Bucs chose to wear their road whites at home in Tampa.

7:41 p.m.: The Lions have already ruled out running back Jahvid Best, defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch and defensive tackle Nick Fairley. Best, a good friend of Patriots second-round pick Shane Vereen, is a notable absence because it keeps the Lions thin in the backfield. Because of that, it might make the Lions more apt to drop back and sling it, which should give the Patriots more opportunities to work on their improved pass rush.

Interesting story about Vanden Bosch: When Albert Haynesworth first met with the New England media, he was asked if he played with a high motor. Haynesworth kind of avoided the answer but then brought up Vanden Bosch — his former teammate in Tennessee — as a guy who has one of the highest motors in the league. His absence will make life easier on the Patriots, but it will take away from an opportunity to play against an elite player, which would have been valuable in the preseason.

7:17 p.m.: Remember when Lions cornerback Alphonso Smith had the worst game of his life last Thanksgiving? Well, apparently, it's because he brought a knife to a gun fight. Read Smith's comments to the Detroit Free Press here.

6:06 p.m.: Left tackle Matt Light is warming up at Ford Field, according to The Boston Globe, so the Patriots will have their entire starting line intact against the Lions. I'm interested in two things here: How long does Light stay in the game, and will Bill Belichick randomly substitute Nate Solder to keep him sharp in the same way that he does with Brian Hoyer?

One other thing to watch for: Will Solder be used as a sixth offensive lineman at any point in a big set? If so, it would be an indication that the Patriots are preparing for the possibility of only carrying two tight ends. I'm not sure Belichick would be interested in tipping his hand with that strategy, but it's something to keep in mind.

6:03 p.m.: Albert Haynesworth won't make his preseason debut Saturday, according to It's not overly surprising, considering the way he has been closely monitored since joining the Patriots. Obviously, it would have been pretty cool to see three of the game's best defensive tackles on one field — Haynesworth, Vince Wilfork and Ndamukong Suh — but two out of three ain't bad.

1:44 p.m.: Cornerback Ras-I Dowling and running back Shane Vereen did not travel to Detroit and will not play, according to a source.

For more on the Patriots' playing statuses, click on that link above, where I run through each player who has dealt with an injury.

8:00 a.m. ET: The Patriots have traveled far away from Hurricane Irene to take care of some important business on the football field, as they're set to take on the Lions in their third preseason game.

Expect Tom Brady and the starters to see their most extended action of the preseason, and with an extended week of preparation for this game, they should look even sharper than their impressive performance against the Buccaneers.

There will be plenty of things to watch for Saturday night, so stay with's live blog throughout the day to remain up to speed with the goings-on of the game.

The first question for now: Will Albert Haynesworth, Matt Light and Shaun Ellis make their preseason debuts? I think Light will be ready to go, but I'm not sure about the two defensive linemen, though they both practiced this week. Their addition to the line would be huge in more ways than one.

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