By NOAH TRISTER/AP Sports Writer
DETROIT (AP) – Matthew Stafford and Detroit stunned New Orleans with a late rally – one that wouldn’t have been possible without another big stand by the Lions’ defense.READ MORE: Grand Valley State University Extends Free Tuition To Students From Low-Income Homes
Stafford threw two touchdown passes in the final 3:38, including the winner to Corey Fuller with 1:48 remaining, lifting the Lions over the Saints 24-23 on Sunday. Glover Quin lifted Detroit with a crucial interception that set up the winning score.
The Saints (2-4) were in control late in the fourth quarter when Stafford found Golden Tate for a 73-yard catch-and-run that made it 23-17. Then Drew Brees was intercepted on third down by Quin, whose 23-yard return gave the Lions (5-2) the ball at the New Orleans 14.
Detroit caught a break when Rafael Bush was called for pass interference on fourth down. Stafford eventually connected with Fuller in the back of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown and the win.
The Saints committed 12 penalties for 134 yards.
Detroit won for the second straight week without star receiver Calvin Johnson, who is nursing an ankle problem. The Lions sputtered for most of the game before Tate caught Stafford’s pass around his own 35, turned up the field and outran two New Orleans defenders who looked like they had good angles to make the tackle.
Then it was up to Detroit’s defense – which came into the game ranked No. 1 in the NFL – to get the ball back. Since the Lions had timeouts remaining, the Saints let Brees try to throw for a first down, and his pass over the middle was intercepted, giving Detroit a short field.
On fourth-and-5 from the 9, Stafford threw toward running back Reggie Bush, who had not been much of a factor against his former team. Bush appeared to be short of the first-down marker, and the ball fell incomplete – but Rafael Bush arrived a bit early, and the penalty gave the Lions a new set of downs.
Fuller made a nice jumping catch in the back of the end zone and got both feet down for the final touchdown.READ MORE: Whitmer Urges Michigan Residents To Claim Free COVID-19 Tests From Federal Government
Cornerback Darius Slay broke up a fourth-down pass by Brees with 21 seconds remaining to seal the win.
Brees threw for 342 yards and two touchdowns, including a 46-yarder to Kenny Stills in the third quarter that put New Orleans ahead 17-3. Stafford threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns, although he threw a pair of interceptions that nearly cost Detroit dearly.
Stafford forced a pass into coverage late in the first quarter, and Keenan Lewis picked it off, giving the Saints the ball at the Detroit 29. Brees found Austin Johnson for a 13-yard touchdown to make it 7-0.
Matt Prater kicked a 21-yard field goal for the Lions, banking it through off the left upright. Not to be outdone, Shayne Graham banked a 27-yard field goal through off the left upright on the final play of the half, giving New Orleans a 10-3 lead.
Stills slipped behind the defense on the first drive of the second half and gathered in Brees’ deep pass to give New Orleans a two-touchdown lead. The Lions answered with a 12-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Joique Bell’s 1-yard scoring run.
Graham’s 48-yard field goal made it 20-10 with 13:33 remaining. Detroit then drove into the red zone, but tight end Jordan Thompson dropped a pass, and the ball bounced right to Kenny Vaccaro, whose interception put the Saints in very good shape.
But there was enough time left for Detroit’s dramatic rally.
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