Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford on Monday used accuracy and poise to pass for 254 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Lions to a 35-27 victory at fast-finishing New Orleans.
The Lions (5-9) raced to a 28-3 lead, but Drew Brees threw a pair of touchdown passes — one shortly after a Lions fumble — to help New Orleans (5-9) get to 28-20 with about 10 minutes left.
Brees passed for 341 yards and three touchdowns, becoming only the fourth quarterback to surpass 60,000 yards in a career, while also eclipsing the 4,000-yard mark for the 10th straight season.
Photo: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY
Brandin Cooks caught 10 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown for the Saints, who are to finish with consecutive seasons of more losses than wins for the first time since Sean Payton became head coach in 2006.
Golden Tate caught two touchdown passes for Detroit. The Lions’ last-ranked running game accounted for 150 yards and two touchdowns against New Orleans’ last-ranked run defense.
Stafford played nearly mistake-free, completing 22 of 25 passes without turning the ball over.
The Lions led 28-3 when Ameer Abdullah scored on a 15-yard run around the left end early in the third quarter.
New Orleans responded with Brees’ 27-yard touchdown pass to Cooks and closed the gap a little more with Kai Forbath’s short field goal after the Lions made a clutch stop on a third-and-goal from the 4-yard line.
However, Abdullah fumbled on Detroit’s next play from scrimmage, and the Saints capitalized on Brees’ 11-yard scoring strike to Marques Colston.
Yet, when Detroit looked ripe to self-destruct, the Lions put together a scoring drive that included Abdullah’s 27-yard run and Joique Bell’s short rushing touchdown.
Brees’ late touchdown pass to Ben Watson closed the gap with 1 minute, 55 seconds left, but New Orleans’ onside kick was recovered by Detroit star Calvin Johnson, and the Lions marched deep into Saints territory before Matt Prater missed a field goal with 9 seconds left.
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