The Lions’ defense was so dominant during Thursday night’s 40-9 exhibition victory over New England that ESPN’s SportsCenter devoted its opening segment on “what is wrong with the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady?”

It’s the ultimate compliment for a defense that has giving up big plays and late leads for the better part of a decade. Yet at halftime defensive lineman Willie Young stood up inside the Ford Field home dressing room and apologized to teammates for making an inexcusable and bone-headed play that could prove costly when the real lights turn on.

He grabbed Brady by the jersey and shook a wicked finger in his face after Brady threw an incomplete pass in the end zone. It looked like Young was lecturing a child for bad behavior.

Dude it’s Tom Brady. Are you kidding me? It was a 15-yard taunting penalty and Young deserved it. But he wasn’t the only one who needed to apologize. Defensive tackle Nick Fairley got called for a late hit after a turnover. Defensive tackle C.J Mosley got called for a 15-yard personal foul later after another turnover giving the Lions worse field position in both cases.

All turned out well but these are the type of undisciplined plays that have cost the Lions for years. Lions coach Jim Schwartz deserves a pat on the back for benching Young. He needs to send a message that this won’t be tolerated. It can’t be.

“We have an edge to us” linebacker Stephen Tulloch said. “It is something we will work on. You go over your mistakes and you move forward. I think guys accept it realize it is a penalty and we move on.”

I’ve seen this team play well and let games slip away because of mental mistakes. Plays like this have been the Lions’ undoing for years. You can’t stop being aggressive but the Lions must be mentally tougher when the regular season begins.