The New England Patriots began 2019 in the same fashion in which they ended 2018; with a win. The defending Super Bowl Champions opened the 2019 preseason on Thursday night with a decisive and dominant 31-3 victory over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Undrafted rookie wide receiver Jakobi Meyers caught two touchdown passes in an impressive preseason debut, while rookie quarterback Jarrett Stidham finished the night going 14 of 24 for 179 yards.
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Of course, there were plenty of reminders that this is, indeed, the preseason. Neither Tom Brady, nor Matthew Stafford started at quarterback for their respective teams. Marquee names such as Julian Edelman and Stephon Gilmore (for the Patriots) as well as Danny Amendola and Trey Flowers (for the Lions) did not see the field of play.
However, those that did see action on Thursday made the most of their opportunities. Meyers, particularly stood out for New England. The highly touted wideout caught scoring passes from both Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham in the second quarter. He finished with six catches for 69 yards.
At quarterback, Brian Hoyer did his best to show Pats Nation that reports of his demise might be greatly exaggerated. Hoyer went 12 of 14 for 147 yards and two touchdowns. His 14-yard strike to Maurice Harris made it 7-0 in the first quarter. Meyers then caught a 3-yard TD from the Pats backup quarterback, putting New England ahead 14-0.
Stidham, a fourth-round draft choice from Auburn, showed impressive poise and comfort in the pocket. Behind a solid gameplan by Josh McDaniels Dante Scarnecchia and Mick Lombardi, Stidham was able to rid himself of the football quickly, while showing mobility when needed. While still far too early to anoint him as the heir-apparent, Stidham looked quite adept at controlling the Patriots offense.
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On the flip side, the Lions were seemingly unable to find their footing. Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse was carted off the field early in the first quarter, after suffering a broken leg. That was the start of an abysmal night for Detroit. The Lions didn’t cross midfield until the latter half of the fourth quarter, when they finally drove for a field goal. The Patriots sacked Detroit quarterbacks nine times, with defensive end Derek Rivers collecting two of them. Ja’Whaun Bentley, Chase Winovich, Jamie Collins and Byron Cowart all were among those that took turns knocking the Lions’ signal callers to the ground. The hometown team finished the third quarter with only 41 net yards — and minus-11 passing. They were often jeered loudly throughout the game.
The Patriots did not finish the night without some health concerns. Wide receiver N’Keal Harry walked gingerly off the field in the first quarter after completing two athletic catches via Hoyer passes. Harry had been nursing a hamstring injury earlier in the week. He did not return to the game, but was visible on the sidelines. Tight End Matt LaCosse also left the game in the second quarter with an apparent leg injury.
The Patriots will now return home to Foxborough, Massachusetts for a team practice at Gillette Stadium on Monday. The team is expected to travel to Nashville on Tuesday for joint practices with the Tennessee Titans. The two teams will battle in preseason game two on Saturday August 16.
–Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and National Columnist for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the New England Patriots and provides NFL editorial content. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC