DETROIT - Reggie Bush's long run was a highlight - one the Detroit Lions nearly wasted with the kinds of mistakes they can ill afford once the season starts.
"The big thing that kind of hurt us tonight were penalties and turnovers," quarterback Matthew Stafford said. "You have those, you make it tough on yourself. We can't do that."
Bush's 86-yard touchdown gave the Lions an early lead, and they eventually came away with a 13-12 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday night. But Detroit also turned the ball over three times and committed 15 penalties, looking a lot like the team that frittered away a playoff spot last season because of costly mistakes in close games.
Calvin Johnson played for the first time this preseason, catching two passes for 27 yards, but Stafford was intercepted once and the Lions struggled in the red zone.
Blake Bortles threw for 158 yards and a touchdown for the Jaguars. Jacksonville started Chad Henne, but Bortles - the third pick in this year's draft - was impressive in relief. He completed 10 of 16 passes, including a 13-yard touchdown to Allen Hurns.
The Jaguars were about as mistake-prone as the Lions, turning the ball over twice and committing 12 penalties for 101 yards. Detroit's 15 penalties went for 131 yards, including a roughing the passer call on Ndamukong Suh.
"For the most part, I haven't seen too many (penalties) that were simply physical - that they couldn't do anything about it," said Detroit coach Jim Caldwell, who took over in the offseason after Jim Schwartz was fired. "The ones we had were preventable, and that's what we'll work on."
Detroit was stopped on fourth down inside the Jacksonville 5-yard line in the first half, and Mikel Leshoure lost a fumble deep in Jaguars territory in the fourth quarter. Ryan Broyles had a fumble at the Jacksonville 1 overturned on replay.
Even when Detroit's top players were in, the Lions struggled at times. Stafford nearly had two passes intercepted on the first drive, but Bush scored on his long run later in the quarter, showing he can still outrun defensive backs in the open field.
"My whole mentality was just not to get caught from behind," Bush said. "I don't want to come back to the sideline and have guys talking trash and laughing at me that I got caught from behind."
Stafford was intercepted by defensive end Andre Branch on the first play of Detroit's third possession.
Jacksonville's Josh Scobee kicked a 38-yard first-quarter field goal but was replaced by Kasey Redfern because of a quadriceps injury. Redfern made a 34-yarder in the second quarter but had a 45-yard attempt blocked in the third.
Henne went 9 of 14 for 70 yards and avoided any major mistakes. But Bortles, the first quarterback taken in this year's draft, was able to move the Jaguars down the field. Jacksonville started at its own 5 with 1:43 remaining in the first half, and Bortles was able to guide the Jaguars into position for Redfern's kick as time expired.
In the third quarter, Bortles took the Jaguars from their own 14 to the Detroit 27 before Redfern's kick was blocked by Xavier Proctor. On its next drive, Jacksonville went 49 yards in four plays for its only touchdown.
Coach Gus Bradley maintains that Henne is still the starter, and Bortles seems fine with that at this point.
"This has been a perfect situation for me, because it has been a stress-free learning experience," Bortles said. "I knew on Day One that Chad was going to be the starter, and I've been able to just focus on learning from him. When he's on the field, I'm his biggest fan, because I want to see things going right and learn how it works in the NFL."
Hurns had seven catches for 113 yards.
Jacksonville's Denard Robinson, a star quarterback when he was at Michigan in nearby Ann Arbor, got a nice cheer from the crowd in the first quarter when he made a tackle on special teams.
NOTES: Detroit FB Montell Owens was evaluated for a possible first-quarter head injury, and Caldwell said he didn't have an update afterward. Lions LB Kyle Van Noy sat out with an abdominal injury. ... Bradley said Scobee's injury wasn't too serious, but DT David Carter left in the fourth quarter with a sprained MCL, and DT Sen'Derrick Marks is expected to have an MRI on a shoulder injury. FS Winston Guy Jr. hurt his left ankle, but tests came back negative.
Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press