The Detroit Lions overcame a 13 point deficit in the final 4 minutes to defeat the New Orleans Saints 24-23. The game did not start well for the Lions offensively. They struggled to move the ball against the 23rd ranked Saints defense. Their top ranked defense played well in the first quarter though, holding the Saints to mostly three and outs. The changes though happened when the Detroit Lions offense turned the ball over. Matthew Stafford threw an ill advised pass that was intercepted by Keenan Lewis. The Saints drove the field and scored on a Drew Brees touchdown pass to Austin Johnson from 13 yards out.
The Lions continued to struggle on offense until recovering a Khiry Robinson fumble at the New Orleans 47 yard line. They completed a nice 9 yard pass to Reggie Bush on first down but continued to try running the ball and failed. On third down though, the Saints committed a costly penalty, giving the Lions the ball at the 8 yard line and a first down. The offense continued to struggle and Matt Prater went out to kick what should have been an easy field goal. Prater converted the 21 yarder, but only after it hit the upright and bounced in. With Lions fans groaning in unison, the kicking game was looking to be an issue again. Fortunately for Prater, he did not miss any kicks today.
With the Lions punting inside of 2 minutes left of the half, Drew Brees and the Saints offense took over at their own 11. They proceeded to move the ball quickly and efficiently down to the Detroit 9 yard line with big catches as well as costly Detroit penalties. With time running out though, the Saints kicked a 27 yard field goal. The kick, by Shayne Graham, also bounced off the upright and in. At the half though with a 10-3 lead, the Saints offense was looking productive, netting as many yards in the first half as Detroit’s defense usually gives up in a game. Detroit’s offense had a mere 100 yards total and looked anemic.
After the half, we got much of the same. New Orleans came out moving the chains, and then Brees hit Kenny Stills with a 46 yard pass for a touchdown. At this point, with a 17-3 lead, the Saints looked like they were going to rout the Detroit Lions. Detroit answered though with a drive of its own. Starting at their own 20, Stafford hit Bush for 11 yards, Bell ran for 5 and 7, and Tate snagged passes of 3 and 19 yards to keep the chains moving. Stafford was not done there though. He hit tight end Brandon Pettigrew for 12 yards and Golden Tate for 7 yards. Joique Bell finished the drive off with a run of 11 yards, a run of 1 yard, and then the 1 yard touchdown run to make it 17-10 New Orleans.
With both teams struggling again to move the ball on offense, the Saints finally got a drive going. Ironically for them, it was a drive that started at their own one yard line. Brees hit Marques Colston for 19 yards, Kenny Stills for 14 yards, and Brandin Cooks for 9 yards. Detroit helped the Saints out with a 15 yard penalty on the drive as well. From the Detroit 48, Brees hit Colston again, this time for 23 yards and Mark Ingram for 10 yards. A 15 yard Saints penalty backed them up though and in the end, they settled for a 48 yard field goal to up their lead to 20-10. Stafford and the offense drove the ball well on the very next drive, hitting Tate for 19, Bell rushing for 10, and New Orleans giving them a free 15 yards on yet another penalty. Stafford then hit Corey Fuller for 18 yards and Bell ran for another three, taking Detroit down to the Saints 13 yard line. Stafford then made a fatal move, throwing a pass to tight end Jordan Thompson which bounced off his hands and into the hands of Kenny Vaccaro. Vaccaro returned the interception 45 yards before being tackled by Stafford. The Saints moved the ball into Detroit territory and settled for a 36 yard field goal to give them a 23-10 lead with 5:24 remaining.
Detroit started off at their own 10 after a penalty on the kickoff backed them up. Stafford then hit Corey Fuller for 21 yards. With the drive looking shaky and desperately needing points, Stafford hit Golden Tate with a short pass on 3rd and 14 that Tate raced past Saints defenders for 73 yards and a touchdown. With Prater’s extra point, the Lions were down 23-17 with just over 3 and a half minutes to go. The Detroit defense got fired up, putting pressure on Brees forcing him into a bad throw which Glover Quin intercepted and returned 23 yards. Detroit tried moving the ball but faltered. On 4th and 5, the Saints committed a penalty that gave Detroit another set of downs. Detroit did not falter again. After draining as much clock as they could, Stafford hit Corey Fuller in the end zone for a 5 yard touchdown tying the game. Prater came in and hit the extra point, giving Detroit the lead with 1:48 left. The Detroit defense we have seen excel all season returned and after forcing two separate fourth downs, they forced Brees into an incomplete pass, ending the game with a Detroit Lions victory.