DETROIT -- No matter how good a defense and special-teams units play, there is no substitute for scoring touchdowns.
And the Cleveland Browns learned that lesson the hard way, as they settled for four field goals, while a last-minute touchdown pass from Kellen Moore to wide receiver Corey Fuller gave the Detroit Lions a 13-12 victory in the 2014 preseason opener at Ford Field.
With his team down by six points with 2:14 remaining in the game, Moore engineered a four-play, 50-yard scoring drive that was aided by three defensive holding penalties over a series of four plays.
"It was the typical preseason game," Browns coach Mike Pettine said following the loss. "We did some good things. We did some bad things. We learned some lessons in this game. You can't just kick field goals when you get in the red zone. You've got to score touchdowns. If you get a chance to finish a game defensively, you want to be in that situation, and you've got to execute.
"Those were the most valuable lessons we learned. We did some good things running the football, but defensively, we were a little sporadic. We didn't tackle, especially on the perimeter. Some of those penalties? You've got to play confident. They're going to call it tight. That's a good lesson for our guys to see. You've got to be confident. You've got to understand you can't put your hands on guys downfield."
The Browns took a 6-3 lead over the Lions on their first possession of the second quarter, as quarterback Brian Hoyer led an 11-play, 58-yard drive that kicker Billy Cundiff capped off with a 26-yard field goal.
Hoyer completed four passes on the drive, including 22- and 10-yarders to wide receiver Josh Gordon, as well as a 13-yard toss to wideout Miles Austin.
Cleveland added a third field goal when rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel led a seven-play, 26-yard drive that concluded with Cundiff's 41-yarder at the 11:27 mark of the third quarter.
Although the Browns were able to build an advantage over Detroit, it was the Lions took the early lead, thanks in large part to the play of their special teams.
After kick returner Jeremy Ross returned the opening kickoff 49 yards, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford moved the ball 32 yards in eight plays before the drive stalled at the Cleveland 19-yard line. Kicker Nate Freese responded by converting a 37-yard field goal at the 11:09 mark of the first quarter.
Two possessions later, the Browns put themselves in scoring position when Hoyer engineered a seven-play, 31-yard drive that Cundiff finished off with a 43-yard field goal.
"We've just got to finish," Hoyer said. "You've just got to improve. I don't think it was anything the defense did to us. I think we stopped ourselves. Whatever it is, you've just got to execute."