The Detroit Lions rewarded quarterback Matthew Stafford with a three-year contract extension worth $53 million this offseason. However, Stafford did not repay the Lions for their investment this preseason.
Stafford played with Detroit’s first-team offense on Thursday, and looked bad during the Lions’ 35-13 victory against Buffalo in the preseason finale. He completed 1-of-6 passes for 12 yards and threw one interception. Stafford’s interception occurred when his pass to Nate Burlesson bounced off the receiver’s hands and into the grasp of Bills linebacker Marcus Dowtin in the first-quarter.
Conversely, Lions backup Shaun Hill shredded Buffalo's second-teamers by completing 4-of-5 passes for 69 yards and two touchdowns, while Kellen Moore completed 10-of-18 passes for two touchdowns and one interception. Yes, Kellen Moore.
To Stafford’s slight defense, receiver Patrick Edwards dropped a pass that bounced off his chest. Stafford has also played without receiver Calvin Johnson, who is still nursing a knee injury. Most quarterbacks would struggle without the NFL’s best receiver.
However, Stafford entered the preseason finale with 26-of-49 completions for 298 yards and only one touchdown (78.4 passer rating). He was without Johnson, but Stafford did not make any receiver look better this preseason. Stafford also seemed out-of-sync with his receivers against Buffalo’s second string defense, which is probably not a good sign heading into the regular season.
Carolina Panthers receiver Ted Ginn Jr. entered Thursday’s game battling David Gettis for the third receiver spot.
Ginn Jr., who returned a punt 74-yards for a touchdown last week, exploded with five receptions for 129 yards and two touchdowns in Carolina’s 25-1o victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He had a 35 yard touchdown reception from Derek Anderson in the first, and later burned Pittsburgh’s secondary for an 87-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter.
It appears Ginn Jr. has done enough to become the third option behind Steve Smith and Brandon Lafell.
New York Jets coach Rex Ryan did not have to worry about anyone questioning why his quarterback played too long during a meaningless preseason game on Thursday. Ryan never pulled fourth-string quarterback Matt Simms during New York’s 27-20 victory against Philadelphia.
The only odd occurrence under center was Simms completed 33-of-44 passes for 285 yards, but did not throw a touchdown pass. While it is not impossible, quarterbacks who throw over 40 passes usually are fortunate enough to have at least one touchdown pass, but at least Simms avoided the injury bug.
Jets running back Kahlil Bell carried the workload, rushing 21 times for 80 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Chris Ivory is recovering from a hamstring injury, and Bell proved he is worthy of carries during the regular season.
Ryan can rest easy knowing Giants coach Tom Coughlin will receive criticism from the New York media for playing running back Andre Brown too long in a meaningless game.
Washington 30, Tampa Bay 12: Redskins rookie running back Chris Thompson, a fifth-round pick out of Florida State, fumbled twice during the preseason, and coach Mike Shanahan was not thrilled. Thompson may have climbed out of the dog house when he returned a punt 69 yards for a touchdown against Tampa Bay as the first quarter concluded.
Minnesota 24, Tennessee 23: This game was overshadowed by the injury of Vikings offensive lineman Seth Olsen, who injured his neck after a collision with Titans linebacker Scott Solomon in the second quarter. Olsen was taken off the field in a stretcher after the scary collision.
Miami 24 , New Orleans 21 : Saints quarterback Ryan Griffin almost did everything an undrafted rookie should during the fourth preseason game. Griffin, who played at Tulane, completed 15-of-31 passes for 198 yards, but threw an interception late in the fourth quarter to seal Miami’s victory.
Cincinnati 27, Indianapolis 10: Josh Johnson is on his fourth NFL team in three years, but the quarterback appears to be at home in Cincinnati. Johnson concluded a solid preseason by completing 7-of-13 passes for 67 yards and a touchdown pass to Marvin Jones, who fought for the reception.
Jacksonville 20, Atlanta 16: Preseason games do not mean anything, and Falcons fans better hope that is true. Atlanta finished 0-4 in the preseason, and had only one offensive touchdown against the Jaguars - a 65-yard touchdown run by Josh Vaughan - on Thursday.
Cleveland 18, Chicago 16: This is what preseason football is all about. Browns kicker Spencer Lanning was 2-of-3, while Bears kicker Robbie Gould was 3-of-4. Worth every penny.
New England 28, New York Giants 20: Patriots quarterback Tim Tebow completed two touchdown passes in the preseason finale. Unfortunately, for Tebow, it was probably his last game in New England.
Houston 24, Dallas 6: It appears Houston has cornered the market on undrafted running backs with starting potential. The Texans rookie rushed 19 times for 107 yards, plus had three receptions for 29 yards, during his quest to follow in Arian Foster's footsteps.
Kansas City 30, Green Bay 8: Tyler who? Oh, Tyler Bray, the former fifth-round pick in 2011 who once was an afterthought in Kansas City? Bray locked up the third-string spot behind Alex Smith and Chase Daniel with 169 passing yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
St. Louis 24, Baltimore 21: The Ravens rested most of their starters on Thursday, which allowed backup running back Bobby Rainey to rush for 38 yards and two touchdowns. Rams rookie Tavon Austin had three receptions for 26 yards, but he fumbled once.
Arizona 32, Denver 24: Denver's future quarterback, Brock Osweiler, completed 7-of-11 passes for 108 yards. Osweiler will eventually take over after Peyton Manning retires.
San Francisco 41, San Diego 6: It took a while for the lights in Qualcomm Stadium to come on in the second half. No, Beyonce did not perform at halftime. San Francisco scored 24 second half points, which is a sign of progress.
Seattle 22, Oakland 6: Seattle scored on its first four possession to end the preseason on a high note. It also appears Terrelle Pryor still has room for improvement after he completed only 3-of-8 passes 31 yards and one interception.
• NFL coaches may have logical explanations for risking the health of their players in preseason games, but if a player is not ready after voluntary workouts, organized team activities, minicamp, training camp, and two preseason games, that athlete is just not good enough. It is also possible the coach is over-analyzing the importance of preseason participation.
• Falcons linebacker Brian Banks, who spent almost 10 years away from football after being wrongfully convicted of rape, recorded two tackles. It will be interesting to see if Banks has done enough to at least earn practice squad consideration.
• Any belief Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon could replace Josh Freeman this season ended when the backup completed only 7-of-16 passes for 63 yards and one interception.