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Dillon's late TDs lift Pats past sloppy Lions

Dec 3, 2006 - 9:48 PM FOXBORO, Massachusetts (Ticker) -- Corey Dillon saved the New England Patriots from an embarrassing and potentially damaging loss.

Dillon scored three touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter, as the Patriots rallied for a 28-21 victory over the Detroit Lions in an interconference contest.

With the win, the Patriots (9-3) remained two games in front of the New York Jets in the AFC East while Detroit (2-10) clinched its sixth straight double-digit loss season.

"That was an exciting ending for us," New England coach Bill Belichick said. "I just have to give our guys credit for stepping up and making plays there at the end of the game that we needed to make. It's a good win. It's good to be 9-3."

For about three quarters it looked like the Lions were the playoff team, taking a 21-13 lead on a 26-yard field goal by Jason Hanson with 13:17 to play.

The Patriots were coming off a mistake-filled win over Chicago and were not much better against the Lions. New England committed five turnovers in the win over the Bears and had four more but was able to overcome them, thanks to some help from the Lions.

New England did not take the lead for good until Dillon scored on a four-yard run with 2:33 to play. The drive was set up by Detroit's fifth turnover of the game, a fumble by quarterback Jon Kitna on a sack by linebacker Rosevelt Colvin.

Linebacker Mike Vrabel sealed the win with an interception of Kitna with 1:51 remaining.

"In the fourth quarter, we've got to take care of the ball," Lions coach Rod Marinelli said. "You get in the middle of the fourth quarter, you've got to take care of the ball. You can't have penalties, we had penalties and beat ourselves. Against a good team like that, you can't do that."

Dillon only got nine carries, but made the most of them. He scored on a six-yard run in the second quarter and a two-yard plunge in the fourth that pulled the Patriots within 21-19. New England then tied the game, 21-21, on a two-point conversion pass from Tom Brady to the seemingly ageless Troy Brown.

Brady, who improved to 23-4 against NFC teams, including three Super Bowl wins, completed 27-of-38 passes for 305 yards and was intercepted once.

"Our execution was very average today. We turned it over, safeties, penalties. It was just ugly," Brady said. "It was a great week of practice but we just didn't make enough plays and we had too many penalties."

Kitna was 22-of-38 for 314 yards and a TD with three interceptions.

"I severely let this team down today," Kitna said. "I don't know that I ever felt worse about letting a team down the way I let them down today. You can't do that stuff as a quarterback. I feel so bad for these guys in the locker room that busted their butt today and I let them down the way I let them down."

Detroit has now lost four straight. The Lions started the season with a five-game losing skid and have continued to find different ways to lose games. It is wearing on some of the players.

"We're 2-10. It's what we are," Lions receiver Roy Williams said. "We're 2-10, we're a good 2-10 ballclub but we just find ways to lose ball games late and once we figure out how to win, there's no telling what this team can do. We always figure out how to lose and good teams don't do that. Once we figure that out and turn the corner, we'll be a good ballclub."

Hanson made all four of his field goal attempts for Detroit.

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