DETROIT (WWJ) – Down by 13 at the half – the Detroit Lions staged a second half comeback to beat the Carolina Panthers 49-35 Sunday at Ford Field.

As heard on 97.1 The Ticket – the Lions (7-3) struggled to find their defense allowing a 101 yard kick return by Carolina’s Kealoha Pilares for a touchdown immediately following the Lions first score of the game.

Matthew Stafford threw for five touchdown passes and 335 yards completing 28 of 36 attempts.

“We knew we were beating ourselves the first half,”  said Stafford postgame to WWJ’s Tony Ortiz.

Stafford told WWJ that his injured finger is getting better every day – “Just something you have to work through – I didn’t get hit today … so it’s good.”

The pressure was taken off Calvin Johnson as receivers Nate Burleson, Kevin Smith, Tony Scheffler, Titus Young and Brandon Pettigrew caught for touchdowns to help bring home the Detroit win.

Carolina (2-8) came out strong and it looked like a flashback to any number of past season Lions games – with the Lions down 24-7 at one point in the second quarter.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton completed just over 50 percent – passing on 280 yards, and four interceptions on the day.

Late in the fourth quarter the two teams were tied at 35 all – when the Lions continued the charge and put another 14 points on the board to end the game.

Smith was signed by the Lions early November – and not a moment to soon – scoring three touchdowns for the Lions in the victory.

The Lions became the first NFL team since at least 1950 to win three games in a season after trailing by at least 17 points, according to STATS, LLC.

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