The Cleveland Browns were missing a bunch of starters Friday night when they faced the Detroit Lions in the second preseason game. The offense didn't look as crisp as they did a week ago against the Green Bay Packers. And yet, Colt McCoy and the first-team offense put up three first-half touchdowns en route to a 21-13 lead. After having drops from tight end Alex Smith and fullback Owen Marecic on the first drive of the game, the Browns' defensive line forced a fumble on running back Jahvid Best.
A couple of plays later, McCoy connected on his first of two touchdown passes to tight end Evan Moore -- a quick two-yard out route that is pretty undefendable without a double team -- to give Cleveland a 7-0 lead. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford led the Lions right down the field though after showing no fear in going after cornerback Joe Haden. The drive ended with a four-yard touchdown reception by receiver Nate Burleson. The Lions later took the lead after a field goal, putting them up 10-7.
At the start of the second quarter, McCoy and the offense attacked the end zone from 21 yards out, just like they did last week against the Packers from that same distance. McCoy lobbed a ball to the end zone, and Moore made an awesome catch for his second touchdown of the game. If they show these highlights on NFL Network or ESPN, Moore isn't going to be a sleeper for much longer.
The Lions decided to take out some of their first-stringers, but Pat Shurmur stuck with his guys a little longer. With about five minutes left in the first half, McCoy threw his third touchdown of the half to a wide open Greg Little. Little punted the ball after the touchdown catch, and I'm stunned he wasn't penalized for it. That gave Cleveland a 21-10 lead. The Lions tacked on a field goal before the half to make it a 21-13 game.
On the Browns' first drive of the second half, it looked like the Browns had this game locked up. Running back Armond Smith took off after a fake reverse for 81 yards, untouched, to put the Browns up 28-13. The defense kept holding the Lions just enough, but on two different drives, Smith fumbled to set up the Lions with short field position. Detroit's backups cashed in, as they scored two touchdowns and a field goal unanswered to go up 30-28.
Third-string quarterback Jarrett Brown was of no help when he came into the game to try to rally the Browns. In fact, he looked awful. Cleveland punted the ball with just under three minutes to go, and the defense was unable to get the ball back as the Lions moved the chains and drained the clock until it hit zeros.
Players who missed the game included RB Peyton Hillis, OG Eric Steinbach, TE Ben Watson, WR Mohamed Massaquoi, RB Montario Hardesty, LB Scott Fujita, LB Chris Gocong, S Usama Young, and S T.J. Ward. That's eight starters right there.
FINAL OFFENSIVE LEADERS
QB Colt McCoy: 10-of-18 for 96 yards, 3 touchdowns
RB Armond Smith: 5 carries, 90 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 fumbles
TE Evan Moore: 3 catches, 40 yards, 2 touchdowns.
FINAL DEFENSIVE LEADERS
Most Tackles: LB D'Qwell Jackson and LB Titus Brown (5 each)
Most Sacks: DT Ahtyba Rubin (1 sack)
Most Turnovers: DE Jabaal Sheard (1 fumble recovery)