Sunday, October 19, 2014

New Orleans Saints surrender big lead vs. Lions, dealt stunning 24-23 loss

By on 6:28 PM

Detroit -- The New Orleans Saints were on the verge of completing their most impressive game of the season when a haunting finish demonstrated the problems that have plagued them all season are far from buried.

The Detroit Lions stunned the Saints 24-23 Sunday afternoon at Ford Field, scoring two late touchdowns and then shutting down a last-gasp Saints effort.

Drew Brees marred an otherwise flawless day by throwing an interception with 3:20 left in the game. Lions safety Glover Quinn returned the pick to the Saints' 13, setting up a 5-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford to Corey Fuller. New kicker Matt Prater split the uprights to give the Lions the lead and send the sleepy Ford Field crowd into a frenzy.

Brees threw three straight completions before dashing 13 yards for a first down on the Saints' last-gasp effort. But it wasn't enough as the drive ended near midfield when a pass intended for Robert Meachem fell incomplete.

For three quarters, everything had gone the Saints' way.

With tight end Jimmy Graham hampered by an injury, Brees simply moved on to other options.

Marques Colston and Kenny Stills both had more than 100 receiving yards and the Saints dominated the Lions' struggling offense early.

The Saints (2-4) missed a chance to tie the Carolina Panthers (3-3-1) for first place in the NFC South. The loss also extended a seven-game regular season losing streak away from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The deep ball that had been missing from an otherwise productive Saints offense returned at an ideal time.

Brees opened the second half with a 46-yard bomb to Stills, breaking open the game and offering a 17-3 cushion for the Saints' resurgent defense.

Graham, who injured his shoulder two weeks ago vs. Tampa Bay, returned to the field in limited situations but was not targeted until the fourth quarter.

The Lions reached the end zone for the first time with 6:19 left in the third quarter, as Joique Bell scored from 1-yard out to cut the Saints lead to 17-10. More worrisome for the Saints was the length of the 12-play, 80-yard, seven-minute drive that included two third-down conversions.

But the defense stiffened and the Saints answered with a 48-yard field goal by Shayne Graham to build a 20-10 lead in the fourth quarter.

The Saints appeared to all but seal the victory when safety Kenny Vaccaro intercepted Stafford near the end zone and returned it 45 yards. Shayne Graham kicked another field goal, this one from 36 yards, to give the Saints' a 13-point lead with 5:24 left.

A big breakdown on defense started the Saints' downfall. Golden Tate turned a short pass from Stafford into a 73-yard touchdown, leaving the Saints' secondary confused and winded.

The Saints' offense, lacking a run game against the stout Lions' defensive line, couldn't run out the clock.

Both offenses were plagued by poor field position and penalties early.

The Saints and Lions each punted twice in the first quarter, but the game shifted when Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis intercepted Stafford near the end of the first quarter.

Brees found an unlikely target -- fullback Austin Johnson -- for a 13-yard touchdown to give the Saints a 7-0 lead.

It was Johnson's first NFL touchdown, a feat made more impressive because it was unclear whether he would even be active Sunday. Veteran fullback Erik Lorig returned from injury earlier in the week, but coaches opted to stick with Johnson in the backfield.

The Saints gave the ball back in the second quarter when running back Khiry Robinson coughed up the ball after being hit by Lions tackle C.J. Mosley. Safety James Ihedigbo fell on the fumble.

Saints rookie cornerback Brian Dixon was called for pass interference, giving the Lions a 31-yard gain to the New Orleans 8. But rookie safety Vinnie Sunseri broke up a third-down pass two plays later, forcing the Lions to settle for a 21-yard field goal that new kicker Matt Prater barely converted after banging the ball off the upright.

The Saints executed an impressive two-minute drill before halftime, driving 80 yards in 92 seconds for a 27-yard Shayne Graham field goal as time expired. Like Prater a few minutes earlier, Graham bonked the short kick off the goal post before going in.

It was the first time the Saints have held an opponent without a first half touchdown on the road since Dec. 11, 2011 at Tennessee.
Judul: New Orleans Saints surrender big lead vs. Lions, dealt stunning 24-23 loss
Review oleh: Tukang Coding |
Update pada: 6:28 PM | Rating: 4.5

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