Browns encouraged by offensive showing, but not defense
DETROIT — The Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns were encouraged by positive signs when they had the ball.
On defense, not so much.
Matthew Stafford threw a touchdown pass, rookie Jahvid Best had a 51-yard run and Aaron Brown scored twice in the fourth quarter to lift the Lions to a 35-27 win over Cleveland in a preseason game Saturday night.
“We could be pretty good,” Stafford said. “I’m excited about it.”
Stafford was 13 of 17 for 141 yards and threw a touchdown pass to Bryant Johnson on Detroit’s first drive, connecting with a receiver on a high pass in the end zone for the second straight week.
“We’ve got tall receivers, great fade guys,” Stafford said.
Jake Delhomme was 20 of 25 for 152 yards and a TD for the Browns, whose quick-strike, no-huddle offense found a lot of holes in Detroit’s defense.
“Offensively, we’re still growing and learning,” Delhomme said. “We had some long drives and guys were making plays.”
One of those players was Josh Cribbs, proving he’s not just a return specialist with a leaping, 30-yard catch along the sideline that set up a TD toward the end of the first half.
“He’s a special player,” Delhomme said. “You try to get the ball in his hands.”
Cleveland rookie Colt McCoy fumbled on his first drive midway through the fourth quarter to set up a lead-padding touchdown for the Lions.
The best news of the day was Nick Sorensen’s quick recovery from what looked like a serious injury.
The Browns defensive back was covering a kickoff when he was blocked simultaneously by the Lions’ Caleb Campbell and Andre Fluellen, leading to him being carted off the field. But Sorensen had movement in his arms and legs and was responsive as he was taken to a Detroit hospital, where tests were negative.
“I couldn’t be happier about that,” Cleveland coach Eric Mangini said. “It’s a scary part of the game.”
Cleveland led 24-14 at halftime after Phil Dawson made his first of two field goals, Eric Wright returned Kevin Smith’s fumble 44 yards for a score, Delhomme tossed a short pass to Lawrence Vickers and Peyton Hillis had a 1-yard TD with 24 seconds left in the half.
“We took a step back from last week,” Lions safety Louis Delmas said.
The Browns seemed to on defense, too.
Stafford handed off to Best for a 51-yard run on Detroit’s first play, threw a short pass to the first-round pick that he turned into a 10-yard gain with a juke on the second and lofted a 7-yard TD to Johnson on the third.
Best didn’t play the rest of the game because Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said his legs were tight.
Smith tried to make up for his fumble with a touchdown in the third quarter to pull the Lions within three points and Brown put them ahead in the fourth with enough speed to get into the end zone twice.
“It was probably (Brown’s) best, complete game,” Schwartz said.
NOTES: Lions LB DeAndre Levy, who was slowed by a back injury during training camp, left the game with a groin injury on the game’s first drive. … McCoy was 10 of 14 for 76 yards. … Detroit’s final preseason game is Thursday night at home against Buffalo on Thursday night — while Eminem and Jay-Z headline a concert next door at Comerica Park — and the Browns will host Chicago.