Golden Tate gives Lions early lead at Oakland


Even without star wideout Calvin Johnson, the Lions’ first-team offense is off to a fast start in Friday’s exhibition at Oakland.

And it’s the passing game that has been the catalyst for Detroit.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford has thrown a pair of first-quarter TD passes, with a 28-yard score to Golden Tate first putting Detroit on the board. Then, on the Lions’ next series, Stafford found rookie tight end Eric Ebron for 23 yards on third down to keep the drive alive, then hit wideout Kris Durham for a four-yard jump-ball TD to give Detroit a 13-0 lead.

As the Lions’ starting offense has soared, the Raiders’ attack has faltered after a solid start. A promising first drive ended in a turnover, when a Matt Schaub pass hit off of James Jones’ hands and was picked by safety James Ihedigbo. On the Raiders’ next possession, the Lions’ pass rush gave the Raiders fits, resulting in a three-and-out.

About the only major negative for the Lions thus far was rookie kicker Nate Freese missing a 33-yard extra point off the right upright. Overall, though, the Lions’ starters have shown well in their second warm-up.