In what is traditionally the dress rehearsal for the regular season, the New England Patriots did not appear ready for the curtain to go up.
With most of the starters on both offense and defense playing into the third quarter of the third preseason game at Detroit Thursday night, the Patriots looked out of sorts on both sides of the ball and fell, 40-9.
On offense, the problems were numerous, with turnovers and poor protection for franchise quarterback Tom Brady being at the top of the list. Brady has been shredding defenses thus far in the exhibition slate and started strong on Thursday.
He completed a nice throw to rookie Kenbrell Thompkins down the left sideline for 37 yards and moved the chains with Julian Edelman looking like Wes Welker on a third down conversion for eight yards.
Another nice throw over the middle to rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld had the Patriots deep in the red zone, but Sudfeld coughed up the ball when he was hit by Glover Quin.
It was the start of a trend as New England was unable to get anything going on offense, turning the ball over two more times when running backs Brandon Bolden and Shane Vereen lost fumbles to kill drives and set Detroit up with great field position.
After his nice 37-yard catch, Thompkins then muffed a would-be thrid down conversion catch to let another possession slip away.
Brady also threw an interception in the first half. Rookie Aaron Dobson got bumped coming off the line of scrimmage, throwing off the timing and Brady threw into triple-coverage, where Chris Houston snagged the pick.
Brady was also sacked twice in the first half. The lone score came on a 10-play, 67-yard drive that ended with a 31-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal. Brady's night was over at halftime.
Meanwhile on defense, the Patriots starters had a few more positives but were uneven overall.
On the Lions' first possession, Detroit had the perfect call on a third down. As the Patriots blitzed, quarterback Matthew Stafford dumped the ball short to Reggie Bush for 67 yards, leading to an eventual field goal.
The New England defense also did a nice job holding Detroit to a field goal following Bolden's fumble deep in Patriots territory.
But Detroit was able to put together drives for a touchdown and field goal. The Lions also managed to work down the field with less than a minute remaining in the half to add another field goal for the 16-3 intermission score.
The Lions then came out and carved up the New England defense to open the second half, taking a 23-3 lead on a touchdown catch from Joseph Fauria (nephew of former Patriots tight end Christian Fauria).
The Patriots finally got into the end zone with 32 seconds left in the game, when backup Ryan Mallett, who played the entire second half, hit running back James Develin with a 9-yard touchdown pass.
Third-string QB Tim Tebow did not play Thursday night.
The Patriots finish their preseason next Thursday at home agains the Giants.