DETROIT — At 12:31 of the third quarter Thursday night, Patriots rookie quarterback Jarrett Stidham threw a perfect deep ball down the left sideline. As Maurice Harris reached out with both arms to try to haul what would have been a 41-yard touchdown pass, it appeared that Lions cornerback Mike Ford made contact with the receiver.

It was a bang-bang play as the ball fell incomplete. For a moment, those watching wondered if Coach Bill Belichick would throw a challenge flag. Under the new NFL rule, pass interference plays are now reviewable. Belichick opted not to challenge, and his team punted.

When asked why he didn’t throw his red flag, Belichick admitted he’s still not used to the new rule.

“I mean, it’s just – I have to get used to those rules,” Belichick said.

Matt Patricia challenged one incomplete pass earlier in the game, at 3:07 of the third quarter. He thought Patriots rookie JoeJuan Williams interfered with receiver Travis Fulgham, but the ruling on the field stood as an incompletion.

Harris had three catches for 27 yards and a touchdown. After the game, he said he didn’t feel like he was in position to lobby for a challenge flag from his coach.

“No, I stayed away from that,” Harris said. “I try to make the plays that are given to me, so I’m going to continue to work and improve.”

CHASE WINOVICH made his preseason debut against the Lions, and the third-round draft pick looked like a veteran or, at times, a man among boys.

A case in point was his sack with three minutes left in the third quarter. Winovich blew through Tyrell Crosby and hammered quarterback David Fales. That occurred after he studied Crosby during three practices in Detroit and noticed something he could exploit.

“I just felt like I knew he had been spending a lot of time at left tackle during the week, so I figured he would be a little more uncomfortable trying to make that transition in the game (at right tackle),” Winovich said.

Winovich finished with 1½ sacks, three tackles and two quarterback hits. When he was playing in the second half with second- and third-stringers, he stood out because of how fast he was playing.

Winovich acknowledged that he had been studying the Lions’ offensive linemen in preparation for Thursday’s game. It was evident that the extra work paid off.

“I don’t think anybody that puts in work ever regrets working too hard or doing a little extra,” Winovich said. “I went out there and kind of had a game plan with how I wanted to attack things.”

Every time Winovich made a play, you heard an unusual roar from the Lions crowd. A star at Michigan, he had a section of friends and family at Ford Field.

“All the work we put in, staying extra time, working on stuff with Willie McGinest on technique,” Winovich said. “It felt good to have it all come together. Hopefully, I made my family a little proud today.”

SO, IS first-year inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo calling the defensive plays?

The head coach isn’t saying.

“We’ll always do what we feel is best for the football team,” Belichick said in a Friday conference call. “That’s what we always do, so I don’t see that ever changing.”

At the very least, it can accurately be reported that Mayo is very active on the sidelines.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.