- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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Ugly offensive football: This was a step back for the Patriots’ offense. When the clock reads 11:38 remaining in the second quarter and a team already has three lost fumbles and thrown an interception, that pretty much says it all. Rookie free-agent tight end Zach Sudfeld and running backs Brandon Bolden (second year) and Shane Vereen (third year) had the fumbles, while the interception came on a Tom Brady-to-Aaron Dobson slant in which Dobson got caught up before getting to the spot. This performance had similarities to the Patriots' 34-10 loss to the Lions in the third preseason game in 2011. The Patriots went on to win 13 games that season, which is a reminder to keep preseason results in context.
Encouraging defensive football: If there was one positive that trumped all for the Patriots, it was the team’s situational defense. The Lions were 2-of-9 on third down in the first half when the top defense was on the field, and three of the stops came at the Patriots’ 5-, 19- and 13-yard lines. It could have been much worse for New England if the defense didn’t stiffen like it did (it was 16-3 Lions at halftime). Yes, it helped that the Lions were without receiver Calvin Johnson, but it’s also notable that the Patriots didn’t have starting defensive tackle Vince Wilfork (he was seen getting stretched out by the team’s strength coach before the game) and linebacker Jerod Mayo played only in the dime coverage.
Brady’s preseason workload: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady played the entire first half, totaling 46 snaps (including penalties, but not a half-ending kneel-down). He was sacked twice and threw the one interception. It wouldn’t be a surprise if this is the last we see of Brady this preseason, as he has played a total of 87 preseason snaps -- 16 against the Eagles, 25 versus the Buccaneers and the 46 against the Lions. Brady had been nearly flawless entering this game (18-of-20); this performance wasn’t as decisive as the team's promising young pass-catchers all struggled at times.
Amendola doesn’t suit up: Receiver Danny Amendola remained home in Foxborough, not making the trip to Detroit. Amendola has been hobbled, but it is not known if his injury is to his ankle or foot. A source previously said that the Patriots don’t have long-term concerns with Amendola and he is fully expected to be ready to go Sept. 8 when the Patriots visit the Bills in the regular-season opener. In Amendola’s place, fifth-year receiver Julian Edelman played every snap in the first half except for a fourth-down, short-yardage run. He had three catches for 18 yards.
No action for Tebow: No. 3 quarterback Tim Tebow did not play, with Brady going the entire first half and No. 2 quarterback Ryan Mallett staying on for the second half. The crowd at Ford Field was chanting "Tebow! Tebow! Tebow!" in hopes of seeing him in the fourth quarter. Before the game on 98.5 The Sports Hub, Bill Belichick said he had an idea of about 80 percent of the team's 53-man roster. Tebow would seemingly fall in the other 20 percent, and with him not playing, there was no action to analyze to potentially sway the decision at this point.
Injury report: The Patriots had one significant injury -- rookie free-agent defensive tackle Cory Grissom left the game early in the fourth quarter and was having trouble putting pressure on his left leg as he was helped to the locker room. That is a position where the Patriots are thin, depth-wise. Lions running Montell Owens, the former Maine Black Bear, injured his knee and did not return. Starting safety Glover Quin left in the first half with a hip injury and did not return.
Quick hits: Starting right guard Dan Connolly, who suited up for the first time as he has been managed coming back from offseason shoulder injury, played the team’s second, third and fourth series (11 snaps total). Starting safety Devin McCourty, who also suited up for the first time as he was managed coming back from offseason shoulder surgery, started and played the entire first half (16 snaps). The following players didn't suit up for the game. The Patriots got a long look at rookie free-agent defensive tackle Joe Vellano (Maryland), who started in place of Wilfork. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who entered 2-of-5 on field goals (with misses from 44, 50 and 53 yards), converted on his lone attempt, a 31-yarder. Lions tight end Joseph Fauria, the nephew of former Patriots tight end Christian Fauria, scored a touchdown in the third quarter and followed it with a patented Fauria spike through his legs. Summing this one up: One of the ugliest Patriots preseason games in recent memory.