CLEVELAND (AP) – Pristine one week, penalized the next.
The second time around was sloppy for the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions.
Colt McCoy threw three touchdown passes – two to tight end Evan Moore – in the first half, but the Browns blew a 15-point lead after halftime and lost 30-28 to the Lions on Friday night in a penalty-filled exhibition that showed both teams have plenty to fix in the next three weeks before the season opener.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” McCoy said. “There’s plenty to clean up.”
“Way too sloppy with penalties,” said Lions coach Jim Schwartz.
McCoy finished 10 of 18 for 96 yards, his second straight solid performance running first-year Browns coach Pat Shurmur’s new West Coast offense. McCoy was victimized by a few drops and wasn’t as sharp as in last week’s win over the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers. However, the second-year QB showed poise, ran away from Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and didn’t force any throws while playing most of the first half.
“A lot of people wanted to anoint us after last week,” said McCoy, who was pressured and knocked down several times. “There were a lot of rough things here and there.”
The Lions (2-0) trailed 28-13 early in the third but got a 20-yard TD pass from Drew Stanton in the third and Dave Rayner’s 48-yard field goal with 9:51 left.
Referee Mike Carey and his officiating crew had a busy night. The teams were assessed 26 penalties for 211 yards.
Moore caught TDs of 2 and 21 yards, rookie Greg Little grabbed a 13-yarder from McCoy, and rookie Armond Smith had an 81-yard TD run in the third for the Browns (1-1), who were without eight starters, including star running back Peyton Hillis. Smith also had two fumbles, helping the Lions rally.
“We went to getting pretty sloppy,” Shurmur said. “Numerous penalties and two fumbles. Those are killers. The guys in the game are in charge of winning the game.”
Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford threw one TD pass to Nate Burleson. Stafford, who threw two TDs in last week’s 34-3 blowout of Cincinnati, went 6 of 10 for 85 yards in four series.
Jason Hanson kicked two field goals for the Lions, who also rested several starters, including wide receiver Calvin Johnson, because of injuries.
“We did a good job considering we had a couple of key guys out,” Stafford said. “The guys who stepped in played well. Our other quarterbacks played well, too.”
McCoy seems perfectly suited for the West Coast attack, an offense that puts a premium on accuracy, timing and precision – by the QB and receivers. Earlier this week, McCoy revealed he spent time during the NFL lockout in Mississippi learning the offense’s many nuances from Brett Favre, who was taught it in Green Bay by Browns president Mike Holmgren.
With the Browns thin at wide receiver, Moore, who showed potential last season but has had injury issues, could become McCoy’s favorite target. The 6-foot-6, 250-pounder certainly looks the part, but it remains to be seen if he can handle it. McCoy found him twice in the first half, helping the Browns build a 21-10 lead.
Moore later took a hard hit on a 17-yard reception. He got up slowly and remained in the game. Moore didn’t return to the sideline after halftime, and Shurmur confirmed the fourth-year suffered a head injury.
“I don’t know exactly the final analysis on that,” Shurmur said.
The Browns’ first possession was poor – two dropped passes and a 1-yard run that set the tone for the night. But Cleveland got the ball back when rookie defensive end Jabaal Sheard stripped Lions running back Jahvid Best. McCoy made the Lions pay with his quick TD toss to Moore.
Stafford came back and tied it with his 4-yard strike to Burleson, who made a leaping catch in the back of the end zone and was able to get both feet down. Burleson then mocked Cleveland’s crowd by mimicking the chalk toss that NBA star LeBron James made famous with the Cavaliers.
McCoy’s second TD toss to Moore put the Browns ahead 14-10. After Jordan Norwood’s 20-yard punt return, McCoy lofted a pass into the end zone for Moore, who made a sliding over-the-shoulder catch in the right corner that was first ruled out of bounds. However, the call was overturned by a video replay.
McCoy’s TD pass to Little followed a sequence of five penalties – three by the Browns, two by the Lions – in six plays. It was Little’s first TD in over two years because he had to sit out last season at North Carolina for having improper dealings with an agent, and he celebrated by punting the ball into the stands.
That didn’t please Shurmur, who spoke with the second-round pick on the sideline.
“I told him not to do that,” Shurmur said.
Little seemed to get the message.
“I’m sorry I did it because of the scrutiny that comes after that type of thing,” he said. “I wish I could have it as a souvenir, but some lucky fan has it all his own.”
McCoy also avoided any major contact with Suh, fined $20,000 on Wednesday by the league for a hit on Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton last week. Suh only got his hands on McCoy once, pushing him out of bounds to end a scramble.
“He was definitely feeling pressure in the pocket,” said Lions defensive tackle Corey Williams. “He was kind of moving around, but we weren’t able to get him down.”
Detroit’s offense was missing one of its main cogs as Johnson was a late scratch with a bruised shoulder. A Lions spokesman said Johnson was held out as a precaution.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)