The Cleveland Browns started strong, but the Detroit Lions finished better in their inter-conference matchup at Ford Field in Detroit Sunday afternoon.
Up by seven points after back-to-back touchdown drives in the third quarter, the Browns (0-9) gave up three touchdown drives over the final 20 minutes of play and could not recover on the way to a 38-24 loss to the Lions (5-4) in Detroit.
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Down by a 10-3 count early in the second quarter, the Lions were backed up at their own 10-yard line after a punt from the Browns, but they marched 90 yards in just eight plays for the game-tying touchdown, which came on an eight-yard carry from running back Ameer Abdullah with 10:25 to play in the first half.
Along with Abdullah, the Lions featured a steady diet of running backs on the game-tying drive.
After Abdullah sprung a 19-yard burst on the first play of the drive, fellow rusher Theo Riddick ran for 10 yards, and then, caught a seven-yard throw from Stafford.
Facing a second-and-three from Detroit’s 46-yard line, Stafford dropped back after taking the snap from center and rifled a 35-yard pass over the middle of the field to Tate, which moved the ball down to Cleveland’s 19-yard line.
With a third-and-eight from Cleveland’s 17-yard line, Stafford ran for an eight-yard gain, and then, gave the ball to Abdullah for the touchdown.
The Lions forced a fumble after a completed pass and fourth-year cornerback Nevin Lawson returned the turnover 44 yards for a touchdown, which gave them a 17-10 lead over the Browns with 3:55 to play in the first half.
The Browns had a second-and-10 when Kizer flared a pass to tight end Seth DeValve in the right flat for a nine-yard gain. However, as DeValve fought for extra yards, Lawson stripped him of the football, dove on the loose ball, stood back up and scampered down the sideline with an army of blockers in tow.
DeValve’s fumble was the Browns’ league-leading 22nd turnover of the season.
The Lions drew even with the Browns at 24-24 on Stafford’s eight-yard touchdown pass to Riddick with 52 seconds to play in the third quarter.
On the first play of the drive, Stafford found rookie wide receiver Kenny Golladay for a 14-yard gain on the right side of the field. Then, Stafford went back to Golladay down the right sideline for a 50-yard gain on the very next play.
Then, on the touchdown pass, Riddick leaked out of the backfield, snuck in front of the coverage from Cleveland’s defense and snared the Stafford throw before crossing into the end zone.
The Lions needed just four plays to go 75 yards for the game-tying score.
Following the touchdown pass to Riddick, Stafford threw scoring passes to tight end Eric Ebron and wide receiver Golden Tate to create an insurmountable advantage for the Lions.
Ebron’s touchdown was a 29-yard reception that capped off a nine-play, 61-yard drive. Then, after a 29-yard punt return after a three-and-out from the Browns, Stafford found Tate for a 40-yard touchdown, which gave the Lions a two-score advantage.