GAME RECAP: New Orleans Saints 45 Detroit Lions 28
DET - TD Heller 10-yard pass from Stafford [Hanson Kick], 10:58.
NOR - TD Sproles 2-yard run [Kasay Kick], 14:01.
DET - TD Johnson 13-yard pass from Stafford [Hanson Kick], 9:11.
NOR - FG Kasay, 24-yards, 0:00.
NOR - TD Henderson 41-yard pass from Brees [Kasay Kick], 13:09.
NOR - TD Graham 3-yard pass from Brees [Kasay Kick], 4:03.
NOR - TD Sproles 17-yard run [Kasay Kick], 9:53.
NOR - TD Meacham 56-yard pass from Brees [Kasay Kick], 7:29.
DET - TD Johnson 12-yard pass from Stafford [Hanson Kick], 4:40.
NOR - TD Thomas 1-yard run [Kasay Kick], 3:36.
NFL.com Game Links:
Stats & Plays
DETROIT LIONS GAME BALLS:
NFL record 211 receiving yards in postseason debut on 12 catches with 2 touchdowns
Lead offense with 380 passing yards and three touchdowns in Lions first playoff game since 99'
Had team high 15 tackles (8 solo, 7 assist) and forced fumble in rough day for defense
|Time Of Pos.||22:24||37:36|
|Total Net Yards||412||626|
|Net Yards Rushing||32||167|
|Avg. Per Rush||3.2||4.6|
|Net Yards Passing||380||459|
|Yards Per Pass||8.8||10.2|
|Red Zone Efficiency||4-4-100%||4-6-66%|
|Goal To Go Efficiency||2-2-100%||2-4-50%|
INDIVIDUAL PLAYER STATS:
Passing NOR - Brees 33-43-3-466
DET - Stafford 28-43-3-380
Rushing NOR - Thomas 8-66 | Sproles 10-51 | Ivory 13-47 | Henderson 1-4 | Brees 4-(minus 1)
DET - Smith 6-21 | Young 1-8 | Burleson 1-2 | Stafford 2-1
Receiving NOR - Colston 7-120 | Meachem 4-111 | Henderson 2-64 | Thomas 6-55 | Graham 7-55 | Sproles 4-34 | Collins 2-20 | Arrington 1-7
DET - Johnson 12-211 | Burleson 4-50 | Pettigrew 4-49 | Young 4-33 | Smith 2-20 | Heller 1-10 | Scheffler 1-7
The Lions traveled to New Orleans to face the record setting Drew Brees and a team that hadn't lost at home all year. The young Lions would play a solid first half but succumb in the second half to the best offense in the league as the defense couldn't stop the high powered Saints losing 45-28. New Orleans had a running game to going with the passing of Drew Brees while the Lions had to rely too much on the arm of Matt Stafford. The third year quarterback found Calvin Johnson 12 times for 211 yards and two touchdowns, but even Megatron's NFL record
receiving day for a first postseason game would not be enough. The Lions hadn't played in the playoffs since 1999 and have now lost seven straight playoff games, nine straight on the road dating back to 1957. But the season ended in the playoffs and that is a far cry from where this franchise has floundered for over a decade. The team didn't embarrass themselves as they did in their last visit to the Superdome in early December when they played undisciplined football in front of a national television audience on a Sunday night game. Drew Brees would throw
for 466 yards and three touchdowns as the Saints scored on their first five drives of the second half after Detroit lead 14-10 at the break. The Saints 626 yards on offense set an NFL postseason record.
The Lions won the toss and elected to take the ball first. It would turn out to be a good decision. Matt Stafford who is often erratic early looked calm in connecting with Young and Johnson down the field. They would end the drive with a ten yard touchdown strike to tight end Will Heller. The Saints would drive down the field on their own until Marcus Colston coughed up the ball inside the Lions 20. Detroit would move the ball to the 50 but be forced into their first punt as a jump ball to Calvin Johnson would be knocked out by the Saints
secondary. The first quarter would end with the Saints driving deep into the Lions secondary after some shoddy tackling but with the Lions leading on the scoreboard 7-0. A few plays later Darren Sproles would take it in over the left side to tie the score. Would the young Lions respond? You bet. Nine plays and 87 yards later it would be that familiar Stafford to Megatron connection to give the Lions the lead once again. Willie Young would knock the ball out of Drew Brees' hand on the ensuing drive, but a blown whistle would stop what might have
been a fumble recovery touchdown. What could have been a 21-7 lead remained seven and the Lions wouldn't be able to capitalize. The Saints would have the ball to end the half and looked to even up the game as Marcus Colston scored a touchdown. But he clearly lost control of the ball and it hit the ground so the call on the field was overturned. A couple of more shots inside the ten would not find their targets and the Saints would have to settle for a field goal as time expired. Lions lead at half 14-10, and it could have been more.
The Saints would have the ball to start the second half and under two minutes they would have their first lead as Devrey Henderson would beat Spievey easily for a 41 yard touchdown deep down the middle. The Lions would pick up a couple of first downs but the drive would stall at the 40. Amazingly, the Saints didn't get called for a facemask or a hit to the head to the receiver while Cherilus picked up a holding call. New Orleans had yet to get a single flag other than an offsetting penalty in the first half nullifying the play. After the punt
the Lions would hold the Saints to a three-and-out, but a very generous spot gave New Orleans all the extra yards they needed to move the chains. The Saints would go for it on a fourth and one inside their 40 on a gusty call to continue to move the ball. A few plays later Brees would find his favorite target, tight end Jimmy Graham, for a touchdown to go up 24-14. A deep pass to Calvin Johnson would put the Lions at the two. On third down, Stafford would sprint to the right and dive towards the pylon. Touchdown! The replay officials even upheld
the call. 24-21 with just over a minute left and that is how the game would enter the final quarter.
Darren Sproles would widen the lead as Corey Williams was held running it in from 17 yards out. Even the announcers pointed out how the Saints got away with one there. Stafford would try to hit Titus Young deep on the next play but the pass would be short and would be picked off. Brees would hit Robert Meachem from 56-yards out and the rout was on and the game was over. Calvin Johnson, after setting an NFL record for most yards in his first playoff game, would draw the Lions closer on another touchdown grab from 12-yards out with 4:40 left.
An onside's kick by Hanson was easily recovered by the Saints and the clock became the enemy. Brees would fire a deep pass to Meacham to put the Saints on the Lions one. After Pierre Thomas punched it in, the Lions season was effectively over. Five drives in the second half for the Saints, five touchdowns and one playoff win. Stafford would throw his second interception on the next drive and the Saints would run out the clock and move on in the playoffs.
Many fans might point to the referees who missed on offensive holds on the Saints and had a critical error spotting the ball to give the Saints a gift first down. But the Lions dropped a number of interception opportunities and failed to stop New Orleans on critical third and fourth downs and deserved the victory. It was a season to be remembered for Detroit, and hopefully one to build on and one of many playoff appearances the club can embark upon over the next few years. The Lions have gone from 0-16, to 2-14, to 6-10, and now 10-6 with a playoff
berth. Time to take the next step again. Thanks for the memories and Go Lions!
PHOTO OF THE GAME:
Detroit Lions All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson pulls in his first touchdown of the game.
The Detroit Lions season season is over after their first playoff appearance this century.
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