DETROIT (AP) — Matthew Stafford was sharp and Tom Brady struggled.
Stafford threw for 200 yards and two touchdowns in less than a half, leading the Detroit Lions to a 34-10 win over the New England Patriots on Saturday night.
The two-time and reigning MVP was off his game, connecting on just over half of his passes for 145 yards with a TD and an interception.
On Brady’s interception, receiver Wes Welker suffered a neck injury making a tackle. He left under his own power but did not return.
The Lions and their sellout crowd at Ford Field were clearly fired up for the nationally televised game against the elite Patriots.
Stafford and Detroit’s defensive front were impressive in the third preseason game, one that both teams treated like a real game for much of the first half.
The Lions (3-0) know they can’t get too excited about exhibition results because they were undefeated in the 2008 preseason and went on to become the NFL’s first 0-16 team.
New England (2-1) routed Jacksonville and Tampa Bay earlier this month, but was on the other end of a lopsided score in the Motor City.
Stafford was 12 of 14 with one incomplete pass that was dropped by Nate Burleson in the end zone and another that was broken up.
He got sacked for the first time in the preseason and was hit hard on another play by blitzing linebacker Jerod Mayo, but bounced up both times. Those were good signs for Stafford, who was healthy enough to play just three games last season and 10 as a rookie after being the No. 1 pick overall in the 2009 draft.
Stafford threaded a pass into the end zone to Burleson for a 9-yard TD to put Detroit ahead 10-0 on its second drive. He made another perfect pass to Tony Scheffler for a 22-yard score that made it 17-3 midway through the second quarter.
Brady was 12 of 22, skipping passes off the turf to open teammates near the sideline and throwing short and low on another attempt over the deep middle to an open Wes Welker on what could’ve been a TD. He hung up a pass intended for Chad Ochocinco that was intercepted by rookie defensive back Ricardo Silva.
He did perfectly execute a play-action play, faking out the Lions and lofting a pass to Welker for a 44-yard score that pulled the Patriots within a TD. Welker left later in the game with a neck injury.
Unlike last season when the Lions led New England by 11 in the second quarter of a game that counted, they held on for a victory that almost certainly meant more to them than the loss affected their opponents.
Jason Hanson kicked a 46-yard field goal and Shaun Hill threw a 9-yard TD to Aaron Brown in the final 1:07 of the first half to give Detroit a 27-10 lead.
Third-string QB Drew Stanton threw a TD pass to Derrick Williams to make it 34-10 in the fourth quarter.
Brady played briefly in the second half before being replaced by Brian Hoyer, who was roughed up by backups on the ensuing possession.
Three-time Super Bowl winner Brady wanted to get hit in the preseason game, saying that was part of the process of getting ready for the season. He didn’t have to wait long to get his wish.
Ndamukong Suh shoved Brady a couple times after he got rid of the ball, Corey Williams got another shot on him just after he released a pass, and Cliff Avril sacked him twice.
Brady looked skittish at times, getting rid of the ball quicker than he needed to perhaps because he was simply trying to avoid an injury that would make the exhibition meaningful.
Stafford, meanwhile, usually had plenty of time, perhaps in part because New England defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth didn’t play.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)