By David Klein
The Detroit Lions walked into the Mercedez-Benz Superdome on Sunday and thoroughly dismantled the New Orleans Saints with a 28-13 victory. The win, coupled with the Minnesota Vikings loss to the Dallas Cowboys last Thursday, pushes the Lions to 8-4 and gives the team a two game lead in the NFC North with four games remaining. Detroit has now won four games in a row, and seven of their last eight overall.
The Kings of Comebacks for much of the season, no fourth quarter heroics would be necessary in this one, as the Lions never trailed. They dominated time of possession (36:52 to 23:08) and out-gained New Orleans 422 yards to 294 until the Saints final drive. It was a well-rounded win and Detroit’s first triumph on the road following a Thanksgiving game since 1974, snapping a streak of 22 losses.
The Saints looked out-of-synch for much of the game, and now sitting at 5-7, their playoff aspirations seem to be dwindling.
With the game still in reach early in the fourth quarter and the game still in the balance with the Lions holding a 19-13 lead, Detroit faced a third-and-ten from their own 34 yard line. Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen elected to bring a blitz on the play, putting seven guys up near the line of scrimmage to force Stafford into a quick throw, and perhaps a turnover.
The call backfired, however, as Stafford was able to stand in the pocket just long enough to get a deep-release off to Golden Tate on the far sideline. With no safety help over the top, Tate was able to reverse the field and glide into the end zone untouched for a 66 yard TD. Although the two-point conversion failed, the play put the Lions up 25-13, taking the crowd out of the game and stealing any momentum the Saints had generated on John Kuhn’s TD run on their previous possession.
A solid job of efficiency and game management, he threw for 341 yards on 30-42 pass attempts with two touchdowns and zero picks. He also scrambled for 22 yards on three broken plays where he was able to escape pressure and keep drives alive.
His 66-yard catch and TD run in the fourth quarter sealed the deal for the Lions and he finished the day with 8 receptions on 10 targets for 145 yards.
-Lions Team Defense
Its hard to single out one specific player in this group, but the unit as whole probably had its best game of the year. They held Mark Ingram to 37 yards on the ground and forced Drew Brees into three key interceptions. Also of note, it was the first time in sixty-one (61!) home games that Brees was held without a touchdown pass.
He put up 18 points single-handedly, going 5-5 on field goals (including a 52 yarder) and an extra point. Looks to a Pro Bowl selection at this point.
CB Quandre Diggs left Sunday’s game early in the third quarter with a shoulder injury and did not return. The Lions nickel back appears be out for the season, and the Lions will look for either Miles Killebrew or Raphael Bush to fill the void there. RB Dwayne Washington was also injured in the quarter and did not return. His status for next Sunday’s tilt against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field is still uncertain.
Detroit activated DE Armonty Bryant from the commissioner’s exempt list following his three-game suspension and promoted practice squad WR TJ Jones to the active roster prior to Sundays game – releasing RB Justin Forsett and CB Johnthon Banks to clear roster space. Jones had a decent day subbing in for Marvin Jones (who sat out with a thigh injury). He finished with three receptions and 49 yards.