One of the reasons that exhibition games in the NFL should not be taken too seriously — at least not the actual final score — is that a lead built by your starters can be frittered away once the back-ups are in the game. And of course, as it is only an exhibition, there is no question of putting your starters back in once their night should be over.
Colt McCoy fired three first-half touchdown passes, and when Armond Smith broke off an 81-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, Cleveland had a 28-13 lead. But the Detroit Lions scored the final 17 points of the game and won the penalty-filled contest at Cleveland Browns Stadium 30-28, dropping the Browns to 1-1 on the preseason.
McCoy was the victim of a couple of dropped passes, but still finished 10-of-18 for 96 yards with the three scores — a 2-yarder in the first quarter and a 21-yarder in the second quarter, both to Evan Moore, and a 13-yard strike to Greg Little.
Seneca Wallace was 6-of-8 for 40 yards and Jarrett Brown, in the game for the final Browns’ drives to try to claim a victory, was 0-for4.
Armond Smith diluted the impact of his TD run by fumbling twice, and the Browns were penalized 12 times (Detroit was flagged 14 times) and wwere out-gained 407-271. The Lions has the ball for more than 60% of the game clock, as Cleveland only amassed 23:09 in time of possession.
The Browns were held to 135 yards on 22 carries, which sounds good until you remember that 81 of that came on one carry. Take away Smith’s TD jaunt and the figure becomes 54 yards on 21 carries, which is not going to get it if a team is going to run a clock late in a game.
But again, this is just preseason. And the Browns were without eight starters, including Peyton Hillis.
Coach Pat Shurmur was unhappy with the Browns’ play after they attained the 28-13 lead in the third. “We went to getting pretty sloppy,” Shurmur said. “Numerous penalties and two fumbles. Those are killers. The guys in the game are in charge of winning the game.”
Now the Browns will face two road games in advance of the season-opener on September 11. This week, Cleveland will travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles at 7:30 on Thursday night.