DETROIT — Perhaps more was learned about Jared Goff from what happened in the days prior to the game than the 10 plays he was on the field on Friday night.
Coach Dan Campbell was going to keep the quarterback out, but when Goff found out the offensive line starters were in, that is where he wanted to be.
“I didn’t want those guys out there without me,’’ Goff said following the 27-23 preseason loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
Goff and the offensive starters played the opening drive which was capped off by a 9-yard touchdown run by D’Andre Swift.
“I will say this about Goff. I was proud of him. We didn’t intend to play him. He came into my office and said, ‘I want to play.’ And I said, ‘You’re not playing.’ He said, ‘If they’re playing, I’m playing.’ So I said, ‘OK.’ I appreciate that about him,’’ Campbell said, noting that he liked Goff’s conviction.
Except for a scratchy throat, Goff was healthy. Campbell was just going to let him rest.
Starting left tackle Taylor Decker said he was fired up when he heard that Goff wanted to play.
Goff went 3 of 4 for 47 yards on that drive.
“He went out there and ran the offense. That’s really what you’re looking for in your ‘ones’. You want to see them play fast and efficiently down the field and score a touchdown,’’ Campbell said.
The five offensive line starters never got a chance to play one game together due to injuries last season so they were happy to be out there together.
Decker said he thinks the line played with a bit of swagger. He attributed it to open communication and comfort playing with each other.
Backup quarterbacks: Tim Boyle (9 of 16, 111 yards) got off to a rocky start on his first drive but the offense scored a field goal and he passed to Devin Funchess for a touchdown during his time on the field. Early in the third quarter he threw an interception, giving Atlanta the ball on Detroit’s 15, but the Falcons had to settle for a field goal.
David Blough made his case to be the No. 2 quarterback when he came out hot – passing for 26 yards on his first throw and leading the offense down the field for a field goal late in the third quarter. He was 6 of 9 for 59 yards on that drive along with a 9-yard keeper.
More impressive were his pair of fourth down passes on a drive in the fourth quarter that ended in a field goal. A fumble and loss with two minutes left ended the game for him but overall it was a good performance. He finished 18 of 28 for 141 yards.
“I’m not displeased with those guys at all,’’ Campbell said of Blough and Boyle.
Hutchinson debuts: Of course, all eyes were on rookie defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson. The Michigan product did not disappoint. On his first two snaps he had back-to-back tackles, the second one for a 2-yard loss.
“It was awesome. I’m glad I got the opportunities and plays came my way,’’ said Hutchinson who finished with two tackles.
“Obviously no game is perfect. I was out there for a few plays, I’ve got to clean some things up.’’
The music: “Billie Jean” was played at Ford Field late in the second quarter while Metallica’s “No Leaf Clover” was blared over the speakers to start the fourth quarter. Both songs figured prominently in the first episode of HBO’s Hard Knocks. Hutchinson was shown singing the Michael Jackson hit and Campbell quoted from “No Leaf Clover” speaking to the team.
Next up: Friday night was Lions’ only preseason home game. Next they’re on the road at Indianapolis on Aug. 20 (1 p.m.) and at Pittsburgh on Aug. 28 (4:30 p.m.) Detroit’s regular season opener is on Sept. 11 at Ford Field against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Lions were 0-3 in preseason in 2021 with two of those games at Ford Field.