December 22, 2015 / 5:19 AM / in 2 years

Stafford leads Lions to win in New Orleans

(The Sports Xchange) - Detriot quarterback Matthew Stafford completed 22 of 25 passes for 254 yards and three first-half touchdowns to lift the Lions to a 35-27 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Monday.

Dec 21, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) against the New Orleans Saints during the second quarter a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Lions (5-9) held the Saints without points on five cracks inside the 5-yard line at the end of the first half and built a 28-3 lead early in the second, though they allowed the Saints (5-9) to score 17 consecutive points to close to 28-20.

Detroit then iced the game with a 76-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard scoring run by Joique Bell with 5:24 left.

Drew Brees’ 1-yard pass to tight end Benjamin Watson made it 35-27 with 1:55 remaining, but Detroit’s Calvin Johnson recovered the onside kick. Abdullah ripped off a 36-yard run to the New Orleans 9 and the Lions killed most of the clock, but kicker Matt Prater missed a 35-yard chip shot with nine seconds left.

Detroit led 21-3 at halftime and then scored on the first series of the second half on running back Ameer Abdullah’s 15-yard run around left end to cap a six-play, 78-yard drive.

The Saints responded with 17 points over the next 9:57 on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Brandin Cooks, a 22-yard field goal by Kai Forbath, and an 11-yard Brees strike to Marques Colston, cutting the deficit to 28-20 with 10:06 left.

Colston’s score was set up by Abdullah’s fumble, which linebacker Hau‘oli Kikaha forced and recovered at the Detroit 38.

But the Lions put the game away on Bell’s 1-yard run with 5:24 left, making it 35-20. Abdullah made the big play on the drive, converting a third-and-1 with a 21-yard run on a quick pitch around right end to the New Orleans 24.

Stafford shredded the Saints’ porous secondary in the first half, completing 12 of 13 passes for 142 yards and three touchdowns as Detroit raced to a 21-3 halftime lead.

Each of Stafford’s scoring passes was a short toss - one and five yards to wide receiver Golden Tate and four yards to fullback Michael Burton.

The Lions’ defense also thwarted a late first-half drive by New Orleans, Brees connected with Cooks for an apparent 29-yard touchdown, but Cooks was ruled down at the Detroit 1. The Lions then held the Saints without a score on five consecutive downs inside the Detroit five yard line.

Another apparent New Orleans touchdown by running back Tim Hightower was waved off because tackle Senio Kelemete, inserted for extra goal-line blocking, failed to report as an eligible receiver.

On the final play of the half, Brees connected with wide receiver Colston in the end zone, but guard Jahri Evans was flagged for being downfield illegally, and with no time left on the clock, the half ended.

Editing by Peter Rutherford

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