Lions get late touchdown pass to slip past Browns, 13-12

DETROIT, Mich. (Detroit Free press) -- They modeled their playbook after one of the highest-scoring teams in the NFL the last few seasons, but the Lions had trouble finding the end zone in their exhibition opener Saturday night against the Cleveland Browns at Ford Field.

Matthew Stafford played just one series, completing two of four passes, and the Lions managed just two field goals in the first three quarters and were overshadowed by Johnny Manziel's debut. But Corey Fuller caught a 21-yard touchdown pass from Kellen Moore with 1:05 left in the game and the Lions won, 13-12.

Manziel, the 22nd overall pick in May's draft, played most of the second and third quarters in relief of starter Brian Hoyer (Michigan State) and completed seven of 11 passes for 63 yards and had 27 yards rushing.

He went three-and-out on his first series, led a field-goal drive to give the Browns the lead just after halftime and received a mix of cheers and boos when he came onto the field with 7:32 left in the first half.

Stafford, who has not thrown an interception in seven-on-seven or full-team drills in his first two weeks of training camp, looked sharp in brief action though he played without receiver Calvin Johnson, who was held out for precautionary reasons.

Jeremy Ross returned the opening kick to midfield, and Stafford drove the Lions inside the Browns' 20-yard line before overthrowing Kris Durham on a fade route in the end zone.

Stafford's only other incompletion came on a drop by Reggie Bush, and he completed passes to Durham for 4 yards and off-season addition Golden Tate for 14.

"I kind of expected (to play just one series)," Stafford said during an in-game interview with WXYZ-TV (Channel 7). "It's good just to get back out there. Obviously, we were set up with a great kick return and (we) had some successful plays going inside the drive so it was a success."

Dan Orlovsky finished the first half for the Lions and played into the third quarter before giving way to Kellen Moore at the start of the fourth.

Orlovsky, who said he hopes to lead the NFL in completion percentage this exhibition season, struggled early, overthrowing and generally misfiring several passes, before settling into a rhythm in the third quarter.

Orlovsky finished 12 of 23 passing for 89 yards and led one scoring drive that ended in a 32-yard Nate Freese field goal.

Freese made both of kicks (from 32 and 37 yards) and remains in close competition with Giorgio Tavecchio (who did not get a chance in the first three quarters) for the placekicker job.

"It's not as clean as we'd like, maybe a penalty too many, but overall I thought the defense hung in there and played well," Lions coach Jim Caldwell said in a halftime interview with WXYZ-TV.

While Manziel was the star attraction Saturday, several Lions made positive impressions.

Ryan Broyles, who is coming off his third straight season-ending leg injury, caught three passes for 27 yards in the first half in his bid to win a roster spot. A second-round pick in 2012, Broyles is competing with Durham and Fuller, among others, for one or two jobs.

"He made some nice catches. He actually finished with them as well," Caldwell said. "He was able to get us a few key first downs."

Tight end Eric Ebron, the Lions' first-round pick, caught his only pass from Orlovsky late in the first half for a 2-yard gain, and backup running back George Winn ran for 37 yards on his first five carries before fumbling in the fourth quarter.

Defensively, the Lions' starters played two series and rookie second-round pick made a nice play in coverage to break up a pass but also missed two tackles for loss on Manziel.

Moore, the third-string quarterback, completed 11 of 13 passes for 121 yards.


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