DETROIT - Lions coach Steve Mariucci liked most of what he saw last night. The problem, once again, was what he could not see.
As for Cleveland's Butch Davis, watching the films should be as painful as was watching the game.
Detroit ran roughshod over the Browns at Ford Field, winning its second preseason game in three tries by 38-17 over still-winless Cleveland.
Davis ended his team's quarterback controversy last week, giving the nod to career backup Kelly Holcomb over former No. 1 draft pick Tim Couch, and said it was time for everyone's attention to turn to the Browns' defense.
In that case, it may have been better for Browns fans to have averted their attention on this night.
The Lions ran up 460 net yards of offense, averaging seven yards per play. Detroit got 298 yards through the air and 162 on the ground as backup Autry Denson ran for 77 yards, including a 37-yard TD run late in the game.
“We made a lot of yards and scored some points,” Mariucci said. “I was impressed with Charles Rogers and how he recognized everything that was going on around him in his first start. And we had some tailbacks show up tonight. I liked the balance.”
Mariucci saw quarterback Joey Harrington complete 15 of 20 attempts for 184 yards and one touchdown. The second-year QB also orchestrated two scoring drives that resulted in field goals, one the result of a 60-yard push in the final 30 seconds of the first half that gave the Lions a 13-10 lead.
Four of those completions, good for 52 yards, went to Rogers, the team's top draft pick from Michigan State.
“I liked the way our 1's matched up with their 1's,” Mariucci said. “Butch played a lot of his starters into the second half, so I have to say I liked how our 2's matched with their 1's, also. I got our starters out of there after a half because we have enough injuries.”
Mariucci has yet to see some of his top players in uniform with just two weeks to go before the start of the regular season.
Dr Bly, the top cornerback on the free agent market who was plucked away from St. Louis, wide receiver Az-Zahir Hakim and defensive tackle Luther Elliss, to name three, have yet to play during the preseason and, have hardly practiced.
Last night, the Lions may have lost Chris Cash, the starter at left cornerback, who suffered a left knee injury that might prove to be serious.
Harrington's first completion to Rogers - the QB avoided the rush when the pocket collapsed - went for 26 yards and set up an early field goal. Midway through the second quarter, three straight completions by Harrington opened a drive that ended with a four-yard touchdown pass to Scotty Anderson for a 10-7 lead.
The Browns tied it late in the half, but Harrington ran the hurry-up drill to perfection, hitting Anderson for a 36-yard gain that set up a Jason Hanson field goal with 0:00 left.
“Harrington is a good quarterback and very mobile, but our defense has to learn that when the quarterback leaves the pocket you can't come out of coverage,” Cleveland's Davis said. “They got half their yardage on busted coverage.”
McMahon started the second half, hit Bill Schroeder for 32 yards to set up a field goal, then ran one yard for a touchdown and passed 32 yards to Anderson for another.
Schroeder caught four passes for 74 yards while Anderson pulled in three for 72 yards.
Cleveland's best offensive thrust came in a no-huddle possession that reached the Lions 13 early in the second quarter. But Holcomb (14 of 21, 130 yards) had the ball pop loose as he cocked his arm to pass for a fumble that ended the drive.
THREE-DOT DATA: The Browns were without top running back William Green, who skipped the game to be with his girlfriend, who is expecting their second child. James Jackson started in Green's place. ... Newly-acquired defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson, the former Ohio State star, entered the game earlier than expected for the Lions when starter Kelvin Pritchett hurt his left shoulder. It was not believed to be a serious injury and Wilkinson was solid throughout his stint. ... Lions backup linebacker James Davis was taken off by cart after a rib injury with 2:05 left in the third quarter. ... After falling behind 31-10, Cleveland rookie C.J. Jones ripped off a 78-yard kickoff return to the Detroit 22. Moments later, he pulled in a 17-yard TD pass from Couch, who was 2-of-6 for 25 yards and also was picked off once. ... The Lions will put single-game tickets on sale this Wednesday. They are available in both upper and lower end zones and in the family fun zone. Call 248-645-6666 or go to Detroitlions.com/tickets.42.33168 -83.04792 ERROR: Template storyimage.ldo not found in theme default for section Pro!
Detroit Lions coach Steve Mariucci liked most of what he saw last night. The problem, once again, was what he could not see.