Johnny Football solid in debut, Browns fall
DETROIT -- Johnny Manziel took off up the middle, slipping between a couple defensive linemen and racing through the open field.
Then -- perhaps most importantly -- he finished the 16-yard run with a smooth, feet-first slide across the turf at Ford Field.
"The times I did take off, I felt like I got out of bounds, slid, and tried to protect myself in the best way that I could," Manziel said. "I feel fine."
Manziel showed off some of his fancy footwork, and the Cleveland rookie looked sharp with his arm too in his preseason debut, although the Browns lost to the Detroit Lions 13-12 on Saturday night.
Manziel entered the game as a backup in the middle of the second quarter. He couldn’t take his team to the end zone, but he looked poised while directing the offense.
One of the biggest questions facing Manziel is how much he can afford to tuck the ball in and run with it. He was quick to scramble Saturday, but he never looked reckless or out of control.
"It was a good start," he said. "You have to start somewhere and set a foundation. I got my feet wet, got my first preseason game under my belt."
Manziel went 7 of 11 for 63 yards, completing one more pass than starting quarterback Brian Hoyer. Manziel also ran for 27 yards on six carries.
Hoyer went 6 of 14 for 92 yards. Coach Mike Pettine said no decision has been made about who will start Cleveland’s next preseason game.
"They both did some things more suited to their skill set," Pettine said. "I think Brian was high on a couple throws. I think he would want those back, and he threw a couple other nice balls in there. Then I thought Johnny did some nice things from the pocket, and when he got out, he created a little bit as well."
Matthew Stafford led the Lions to a field goal on his only drive of the game. Star receiver Calvin Johnson didn’t play.
"We’re very multiple in this offense. We have a lot of different looks and a lot of different plays that we can show the opposing defense," Stafford said. "You didn’t see a lot of that tonight, because we barely gameplanned for this game at all, so there weren’t a lot of the things that we will have in the regular season."
Cleveland receiver Nate Burleson, who played in Detroit the last four seasons, also sat out this game.
Detroit’s Kellen Moore threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Corey Fuller with 1:05 remaining in the fourth quarter, and Giorgio Tavecchio made the long extra point to give the Lions the one-point win.
There was a buzz surrounding this preseason game because of Manziel’s debut, and the former Heisman Trophy winner took the field with 7:32 remaining in the first half, drawing a few cheers but also plenty of boos from the Detroit crowd. Amid a fair number of camera flashes, Manziel took the snap and immediately completed a 6-yard pass toward the left sideline to Anthony Armstrong.
But the Lions stuffed the Cleveland quarterback on what looked like a read option on third down, ending that drive.
Billy Cundiff gave Cleveland a 9-6 lead with a 41-yard field goal early in the third quarter. On his next drive, Manziel dropped back on third-and-8, then took off up the middle, finding plenty of open space for a 16-yard run that was the longest by a Cleveland player on the night.
"I was coming back across my progression to throw, and it kind of just parted for me. I needed to make a quick decision," Manziel said. "Luckily I got past the first wave of defensive linemen."
Manziel later outran the Lions to the sideline to pick up a first down on fourth-and-1, but the drive ended when Dion Lewis fumbled inside the Detroit 30.
Cundiff kicked four field goals for the Browns, and rookie Nate Freese made two for the Lions. Detroit was playing its first preseason game under new coach Jim Caldwell, and the offense did little to impress with Stafford barely playing. Backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky went 12 of 23 for 89 yards.
Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon played while awaiting word from the NFL on his appeal of a possible suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. He caught two passes for 32 yards.
Rookie tight end Eric Ebron, Detroit’s first-round draft pick, played after missing some practice time during the week with an injury. He caught one pass.
Giants 20, Steelers 16
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Rashad Jennings is taking advantage of his opportunity to be a key part of the New York Giants’ running game.
Jennings ran 73 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter and Curtis Painter’s scoring pass with 2:50 left gave the Giants a 20-16 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in a preseason game Saturday night.
Howard Jones had given the Steelers a 16-13 lead when he picked up backup quarterback Ryan Nassib’s fumble and went 28 yards for a touchdown with 10:16 to go. But Painter led a 12-play, 80 yard drive and threw a 3-yard TD pass to Corey Washington for the victory.
Eli Manning played four series and was 0 for 2 for the Giants. They opened the preseason last week with a 17-13 victory over Buffalo in the Hall of Fame game.
The Giants focused on their running game after a week in which David Wilson was forced to retire because of a neck injury. Peyton Hills missed the game because of an ankle injury.
Jennings, who signed a four-year, $10 million deal with the Giants in March, finished with 85 yards to lead the team.
Ben Roethlisberger played only one series for the Steelers (0-1). His was 1 for 2, with the completion a 46-yarder to rookie third-round pick Dri Archer to the Giants 14. Running back Le’Veon Bell started the drive with gains of 9 and 8 yards.
The seven-play, 70-yard drive ended with the first of Shaun Suisham’s three field goals, a 26-yarder for a 3-0 lead.
"I thought it was a good, solid first series," Roethlisberger said. "Obviously, it helped that we had a huge play to Dri. But we moved the ball down the field and got points on the board."
Jennings’ long touchdown run came on the next play from scrimmage.
"It was a well-executed play," Jennings said. "Eli made sure we were in the right play, it was a hat on a hat, a gaping hole in the offensive line."
Early in the second quarter, the Giants took advantage of a 21-yard punt by Brad Wing and started their drive at the Steelers 35. Josh Brown made a 45-yard field goal for a 10-3 lead.
Bruce Gradkowski took over for Roethlisberger was 8 for 12 for 66 yards.
Nassib replaced Manning in the second quarter. On his second drive, he completed his first five passes, including a 12-yarder to Rueben Randle. Brandon McManus’ 46-yard field goal with 38 seconds left in the first half gave the Giants a 13-3 lead.
Charles James fumbled a punt with 7:37 left in the third and the Steelers’ Howard Jones recovered at the Giants 21. The Giants’ defense held and Suisham made a 38-yard field goal to make it 13-6.
Suisham added a 32-yarder 59 seconds into the fourth quarter to make it 13-9.
NOTES: Steelers second-year linebacker Jarvis Jones had a sack of Manning late in the first quarter. ... First-round pick WR Odell Beckham Jr missed the game because a hamstring injury. Also out for the Giants: RB Peyton Hillis (ankle), WR Trindon Holliday (hamstring), OT Will Beatty and DT Mike Patterson (shoulder). ... Missing the game for the Steelers: LB Ryan Shazier, TE Michael Palmer, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey and NT Steve McLendon. ... The Giants’ next preseason game is next Saturday at the Colts, who lost to the Jets on Thursday. The Steelers will host the Bills in their preseason home opener next Saturday.
Bills 20, Panthers 18
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Anthony Dixon ran for a touchdown, Dan Carpenter had a pair of field goals and the Buffalo Bills defeated the Carolina Panthers 20-18 Friday night in a preseason game.
EJ Manuel completed 9 of 13 passes for 96 yards but the Bills struggled to cash in on scoring opportunities for the second straight game. Buffalo’s first-team offense reached Carolina territory on its first three possessions but managed just three points.
Rookie Kelvin Benjamin had no such problem finding the end zone.
Carolina’s first-round draft pick turned in the play of the game, thrilling fans with a stumbling, diving 32-yard touchdown reception in his NFL debut.
Racing down the left sideline, Benjamin stumbled after contact with cornerback Stephon Gilmore but maintained his balance long enough to haul in a diving catch in the end zone from Derek Anderson.
Anderson started for Cam Newton, who rested his recovering left ankle.
Cardinals 32, Texans 0
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Carson Palmer was 5 for 5 passing for 84 yards and a touchdown in his lone series for the hosts on Saturday.
Arizona rookie Logan Thomas played the entire second half. He completed 11 of 12 passes for 113 yards and one score.
Ryan Fitzpatrick had a rough first game as Houston’s quarterback. Playing the entire first half, he completed 6 of 14 passes for 55 yards and two interceptions as the Cardinals took a 20-0 lead to the break.
-- -- --
N.Y. Jets 13, Indianapolis 10
Washington 23, New England 6
Baltimore 23, San Francisco 3
Kansas City 41, Cincinnati 39
Denver 21, Seattle 16
San Diego 27, Dallas 7
Atlanta 16, Miami 10
Buffalo 20, Carolina 18
Jacksonville 16, Tampa Bay 10
Chicago 34, Philadelphia 28
Minnesota 10, Oakland 6
New Orleans 26, St. Louis 24
Detroit 13, Cleveland 12
N.Y. Giants 20, Pittsburgh 16
Tennessee 20, Green Bay 16
Arizona 32, Houston 0
Thursday, Aug. 14
Jacksonville at Chicago, 8 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 15
Philadelphia at New England, 7:30 p.m.
Tennessee at New Orleans, 8 p.m.
San Diego at Seattle, 10 p.m.
Detroit at Oakland, 10 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 16
Green Bay at St. Louis, 4 p.m.
Baltimore at Dallas, 7 p.m.
N.Y. Giants at Indianapolis, 7 p.m.
N.Y. Jets at Cincinnati, 7 p.m.
Buffalo at Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m.
Miami at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.
Atlanta at Houston, 8 p.m.
Arizona at Minnesota, 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 17
Denver at San Francisco, 4 p.m.
Kansas City at Carolina, 8 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 18
Cleveland at Washington, 8 p.m.
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