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Lions rally in fourth to extend Saints' road woes

Oct 19, 2014 - 10:50 PM Detroit, MI ( - Corey Fuller's touchdown catch inside of two minutes to play capped a late Detroit comeback to give the Lions a 24-23 win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

Matthew Stafford struggled for much of the game, but led two fourth-quarter touchdown drives for Detroit and finished 27-of-40 for 299 yards with two scoring passes and two interceptions.

"We didn't play our best football, especially in the first half," said Stafford. "The second half we moved it better and our defense really did a lot for us there with that turnover."

Golden Tate stepped up again in place of an inactive Calvin Johnson as he caught 10 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown, while Joique Bell added a rushing touchdown for the Lions (5-2), who have won their past two games.

Drew Brees went 28-for-45 for 342 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for the Saints (2-4), who have lost all four of their road contests this season.

Marques Colston had six catches for 111 yards, while Kenny Stills added five receptions for 103 yards and a score in the loss.

"We had opportunities down the stretch to win the game and we didn't do it," said New Orleans head coach Sean Payton. "

After Shayne Graham hit a 36-yard field goal with 5:24 to go, the Saints appeared to be in good shape to snap a six-game road losing skid, but it took Stafford less than two minutes to make it a one-score game.

Facing a 3rd-and-14 from his own 27, Stafford hit Tate with a short pass to the right, and he made one defender miss before outracing the Saints down the right sideline for a 73-yard score to make it a 23-17 game with 3:38 to play.

Detroit's defense then came out with a huge play as Glover Quin stepped up on a route to pick off Brees and take the ball down to the New Orleans 14.

"What's so hard is the worst feeling in professional sports is when you feel you let your team down, and I did with that interception," said Brees. "That's a critical time in the game when a turnover can't happen, and I'm responsible for it."

Facing a 4th-and-5, Stafford attempted to hit Reggie Bush on a short pass and it fell incomplete, but a pass interference call on New Orleans, its 12th penalty of the game, gave Detroit a fresh set of downs.

Three plays later, Stafford went to the back of the end zone where Fuller made a leaping grab for a 5-yard score and a 24-23 lead with 1:48 remaining.

"When we needed plays at the end of the game we got them," said Detroit head coach Jim Caldwell. "It was one of those games where you keep preaching to the guys to hang in there and keep fighting."

Brees completed a 4th-and-10 with a 13-yard run, but his pass on 4th-and-3 fell incomplete and Stafford took a knee to end the game.

Neither team was able to get anything going in the first quarter as the first four possessions ended in punts, but Stafford had a pass picked off by Keenan Lewis to give the Saints the ball at the Detroit 29.

Four plays later, Brees rolled out to his left and tossed a short pass to Austin Johnson, who ran down the sideline and just stretched the ball over the goal line to give the Saints a 7-0 lead just over a minute into the second quarter.

The Lions nabbed a turnover of their own on New Orleans' next touch, as Khiry Robinson dropped a carry and James Ihedigbo fell on the ball near midfield.

Detroit got down to the New Orleans 8 thanks to a pass interference call on a deep play, but was unable to punch it in and Matt Prater banged a 21-yard field goal off the left upright and in to make it a 7-3 game with 5 1/2 minutes to play.

Each team then punted once before the Saints got the ball back at their own 11 with 1:32 left. Catches of 16 and 17 yards by Stills helped to get New Orleans across midfield, and an 18-yard catch by Colston allowed Graham to boot a 27- yard field goal in off the left upright to give the Saints a 10-3 lead at the break.

Starting the second half with the ball, it took New Orleans just over a minute to add to its lead as Brees went deep down the middle and Stills came down with the ball for a 46-yard score and a 17-3 lead.

Detroit answered with a strong drive, as Bell had six carries for 25 yards, and Stafford was able to convert a third down with a 19-yard pass to Tate. Bell finished the march with a 1-yard score to make it a 17-10 game with 6:19 left in the third.

New Orleans was later pinned at its own 1, but Brees hit Colston for 19 yards on the first play. That sparked an 11-play, 69-yard drive that Graham finished with a 48-yard field goal to give the Saints a 20-10 lead with 13:33 to play.

The Lions came back with a march into the red zone, but a pass by Stafford was nabbed by Kenny Vaccaro and he took it back to the Detroit 49. That led to Graham's 36-yard field goal for a 13-point lead.

Game Notes

Stafford now has 118 touchdown passes in his career and tied Bobby Layne for most in franchise history ... Brees had been 4-0 in his career against Detroit coming into the game ... The Lions controlled the ball for 32:18, but were outgained 408-344 ... Detroit plays in London against Atlanta next Sunday ... New Orleans hosts Green Bay next Sunday night ... Neither team ran the ball well, as the Saints had 73 yards on 21 carries, while the Lions managed just 59 yards on 24 totes ... The Saints were penalized for 134 yards, while Detroit had nine flags for 71 yards.