INDIANAPOLIS – The Detroit Lions couldn't quibble with much Saturday.
David Blough started fast and Tim Boyle finished strong as the backup quarterback competition continued. Detroit had 174 yards rushing and allowed 30. Even the defense delivered.
It was the ending everyone wanted to cap a busy, challenging week in Indianapolis.
Four days after coach Dan Campbell brought his team to Indy for two joint practices, Godwin Igwebuike scored on a 2-yard, tiebreaking run with 4:03 to play and the Lions defense stopped a 2-point conversion attempt with 38 seconds left to preserve a 27-26 preseason victory over the Colts.
“When you earn a win, it feels good. And when we needed a play, we really complemented each other,” Campbell said. “I thought we got better today. This was a good week for us.”
Igwebuike had a solid game, carrying seven times for 32 yards, including his strong final run.
But Blough wanted to show everyone he could rebound from last week's late turnover, which turned an almost sure win into another frustrating defeat. And with Campbell and Colts coach Frank Reich holding out most of their starters, Blough took advantage of a rare chance to start.
He led the Lions to field goals on their first two possessions and recovered from a batted ball that was intercepted with a 5-yard TD pass as time expired in the first half to make it 13-13. Blough finished 16 of 22 with 76 yards while rushing three times for 18 yards.
Boyle took over in the second half and led the Lions to two touchdowns. The first came on their opening series of the third quarter when he connected with Tom Kennedy on a 10-yard TD pass to make it 20-13. Boyle was 12 of 15 with 99 yards.
“I thought they both did a great job — David driving us down the field at the end of the half and coming away with that touchdown was big,” Campbell said without declaring a winner. "I thought Tim Boyle had a good half, too. He moved the ball and when he was called upon, he stepped up and made some plays.”
Indy quarterback Sam Ehlinger answered with a 50-yard pass to a wide-open Dezmon Patmon, who stumbled to the ground, rolled over backward and stretched the ball across to tie the score again.
Ehlinger also threw a 15-yard TD pass to Michael Strachan in the first half as Indy's young, unproven receiving group took a significant step forward from a week ago.
“It seems like he's gone from zero to 60 in a second,” Reich said of Strachan, who was activated from the physically unable to perform list this week. “There was a a couple weeks back, I wasn't even sure if he was going to practice until the season opener and then all of a sudden he made a speedy recovery and the next thing you know, he's out there catching a big-time touchdown."
Midway through the fourth quarter, though, the game looked as if it could be this year's first tie — until Igwebuike's powerful final run.
And then it nearly happened again when Jack Coan, an undrafted rookie out of Notre Dame, found Samson Nacua for a 26-yard score with 38 seconds left. But Reich called timeout, decided to play for the win and when Coan couldn't connect with Nacua again, Detroit sealed it by recovering an onside kick.
“Where we’ve been and where we’re coming from (winning) has to be part of our DNA,” Campbell said. “We’re moving in the right direction.”
Lions: Kennedy had five receptions for 24 yards and the two scores. ... Craig Reynolds started at running back and had seven carries for 37 yards including back-to-back 11-yard runs in the first half. ... Maurice Alexander had successive kickoff returns of 61 and 45 yards.
Colts: Nick Foles started in place of Matt Ryan and was 5 of 6 with 56 yards in one quarter. ... Patmon had five receptions for 103 yards. ... Strachan had three catches for 45 yards. ... Indy allowed 99 yards rushing in the first half.
Lions: Devin Funchess did not play after suffering a stinger in his right shoulder during practice this week and defensive lineman Eric Banks limped off the field with what appeared to be a right leg injury.
Colts: Linebacker Brandon King left the game in the first half with a hamstring injury and did not return. Defensive end Kameron Cline left late with a concussion.
Lions: Close out the preseason Aug. 28 at Pittsburgh.
Colts: Host Tampa Bay in next Saturday's preseason finale.
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