The Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions renew their preseason rivalry in Thursday’s Great Lakes Classic at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Browns and Lions each have two preseason victories against one another over the last four years. The Browns defeated the Lions, 27-10, in the 2009 meeting, but fell, 35-27, at Ford Field in 2010. Two years ago, the Lions earned a 30-28, come-from-behind victory over the Browns in Cleveland on Aug. 19, and Cleveland won on a last-minute field goal in Detroit last summer.
The Browns, who have played Detroit more than any other team in the preseason (43 times), are 19-23-1 overall, and 10-6-0 in exhibition home games against the Lions.
Later this year, the Browns will again host the Lions, on Sunday, Oct, 13, and will look to break a two-game, 12-year regular-season losing streak to their NFC North Division counterparts.
When the teams met last August, former Browns kicker Jeff Wolfert converted a 45-yard field-goal attempt with 28 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. His kick gave the Browns a 19-17, come-from-behind victory over the Lions in the 2012 preseason opener at Ford Field.
Wolfert, who missed a field goal earlier in the second half, capped off a six-play, 43-yard drive with the kick.
Browns rookie running back Adonis Thomas scored a three-yard touchdown with 6:05 remaining in regulation against the Lions, but the team could not get the go-ahead points as Thomas was stopped short of the goal line on a two-point conversion attempt.
On the previous possession, rookie kicker Derek Dimke’s 40-yard field goal extended the Lions’ lead over the Browns to 17-10 with 10:25 remaining in the fourth quarter. Dimke’s field goal capped off a seven-play, 57-yard drive that took 3:58 off the fourth quarter clock. Dimke replaced veteran Jason Hanson in the second half.
The Browns drew to within four points of the Lions when rookie fullback
As this year’s game unfolds, here are several things to keep an eye on:
Overall, Weeden completed 10 of his 13 pass attempts for 112 yards and the one touchdown. He threw to six different receivers, did not get sacked and carried a 127.7 quarterback rating in the win.
His 950 rushing yards, 11 rushing touchdowns, 267 carries, 12 total touchdowns, 72 points scored, and 1,317 scrimmage yards eclipsed the franchise’s previous marks, while the three 100-yard rushing games equaled the record set by William Green in the 2002 season.
Richardson finished in the NFL’s top ten in scoring among non-kickers. He also finished third in receptions by a first-year player, third in both rushing yards and scrimmage yards by a rookie and fourth in first downs (54 total), and tied for second for points scored among NFL rookies.
Running back Dion Lewis. Starting in place of Richardson, Lewis played two series with the Browns’ first-team offense in their win over St. Louis last Thursday. He caught a screen pass for a 16-yard gain, scored a two-yard touchdown, and also returned the game’s opening kickoff 31 yards.
Benjamin fielded the punt at the nine-yard line, sprinted to the far left side of the field and turned the corner on the Rams. Once he passed the 50-yard line, there were only brown jerseys surrounding him, and those teammates ushered him into the end zone.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. Last season, Stafford led a Lions offense that held a nearly three-minute advantage in time of possession, converted more first downs (382 to 305), and outgained opponents (6,540 to 5,458), including a 4,927 to 3,569 advantage in passing yards. Stafford completed 435 of 727 attempts (59.8 percent) for 4,967 yards and 20 touchdowns against 17 interceptions despite being sacked 29 times for 212 lost yards.
In limited action during the Lions’ preseason-opening win against the New York Jets last Friday, Stafford completed three passes for 58 yards.
Wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Johnson was Stafford’s favorite target and hauled in 122 passes for an NFL record 1,964 yards and five touchdowns, while Brandon Pettigrew (59 catches for 567 yards and three touchdowns) and Joique Bell (52, 485) proved to be solid targets when Stafford couldn’t deliver the ball to the Lions’ top pass-catcher.
He hauled in three passes for 58 yards against the Jets.
Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah. Ansah, a native of Accra, Ghana, played football at BYU after first trying track and basketball. During his senior season, Ansah started nine of the 13 games he played at defensive end. He registered 62 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks, in addition to an interception and nine pass break-ups.
Ansah returned an interception for a touchdown against Mark Sanchez and the Jets’ starting offense last Friday.
The Browns continue their preseason schedule next Saturday night against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Lions return home to Ford Field for their preseason home finale against the New England Patriots next Thursday.
Browns defensive lineman
Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton was the Lions’ secondary coach from 2002-03, while outside linebackers coach Brian Baker coached Detroit’s defensive line from 1997-2000.
Browns defensive line coach Joe Cullen served in the same capacity with the Lions from 2006-08, and defensive quality control coach Daron Roberts was Detroit’s assistant secondary coach from 2009-10.
Lions head coach Jim Schwartz began his NFL career as a college/pro scout with the Browns in 1995.
Former Browns defensive back Don Carey (2009), quarterback Thaddeus Lewis (2011-12), and defensive lineman C.J. Mosley (2011) now play for the Lions.
Carey was a sixth-round pick of the Browns in the 2009 NFL Draft, and Mosley played 12 games in Cleveland during the 2009 season. He made 18 total tackles and 13 solo stops in those games.
Lions defensive lineman Israel Idonije started his career as an undrafted free-agent signing of the Browns, and spent part of the 2003 season on the team’s practice squad. Idonije then spent the next nine seasons with the Chicago Bears, where he registered 28.5 sacks, including 7.5 last fall.
Cleveland offensive line coach Mike Sullivan served in the same capacity at Western Michigan University from 2005-06, and special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor coached Western’s special teams and running backs from 2006-07.
Browns tight end
Lions guard Rob Sims (Macedonia/Nordonia High School) is an Ohio native. He graduated from The Ohio State University.
Fans can watch Thursday’s game at 7:30 p.m./ET on local NBC affiliate, WKYC-TV 3. Jim Donovan, former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar, and sideline reporter Dave Chudowsky will be on the call.
The game is also available along the Browns Radio Network with Michael Reghi, Doug Dieken, and Jamir Howerton on the call. All radio broadcasts will be streamed live at ClevelandBrowns.com.
“What to Watch For is brought to you by Arby’s -- Try Arby’s new, bakery-quality California Turkey Croissant Sandwich today. Arby’s. Slicing Up Freshness.”