Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns was a tale of two halves for the Detroit Lions. Although they were up 7-0 at one point in the first half, the defense struggled and the offense failed to do much of anything. The second half was a completely different story, though. The Lions were dominant on both sides of the ball, and they went from being down 17-7 at halftime to being up 31-17 at the end of the game.
As this game began, it was more of the same for the Lions. They once again started with the ball, and they once again failed to score any points on their opening drive. They didn't go three-and-out, at least, but they had to punt after failing to go anywhere on third-and-2 at the Cleveland 39.
A good punt that was downed at the 5-yard line put the Lions in good position after the defense came up with a stop. They took over at their own 42-yard line, and this time around they were able to score points. An 8-yard pass to Brandon Pettigrew on third down was a big play early in this drive, as was a pass interference penalty on Joe Haden on third-and-1. Haden picked up another pass interference penalty on the very next play, setting the Lions up for a 1-yard touchdown pass to Joseph Fauria, who celebrated with another dance.
The Browns were unable to answer this touchdown considering they went three-and-out, but the Lions couldn't add to their lead thanks to a three-and-out of their own. After they punted the ball away, Cleveland came up with its response. An end-around to Travis Benjamin got the ball rolling, as he picked up 45 yards, and a 9-yard pass on third-and-8 kept the drive alive. Shortly after this, the Browns found the end zone with Brandon Weeden finding a wide open Chris Ogbonnaya for a 4-yard touchdown.
The Lions went three-and-out yet again, and it looked like the Browns were going to make them pay again. DeAndre Levy had other ideas, though. On third-and-4 at the Detroit 40, Ndamukong Suh put some pressure on Weeden and forced a somewhat errant pass. Levy made a great play on the ball and came away with a leaping interception, stopping the Browns' drive.
Thanks to an outstanding 24-yard catch by Kris Durham, the Lions did not go three-and-out following the interception. That was the only time they moved the chains, though, and the Browns did make them pay after another punt. They cruised down the field, gaining big chunks throughout the drive. It started with a 23-yard pass interference penalty on Darius Slay, and the Browns followed that up with gains of 9, 10, 18 and 10 yards. A few plays later, after a conversion on third-and-2, Weeden hit Greg Little in the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown.
After another quick three-and-out by the Lions, the Browns got the ball back with a chance to put more points on the board before halftime. That's exactly what they did, as Weeden found Josh Gordon for a gain of 36 yards. The big play set up a 40-yard field goal by Billy Cundiff, putting Cleveland on top 17-7 at the half.
The second half got off to a very good start for the Lions. The defense forced a three-and-out, and the offense came up with a big drive of its own. The drive was sparked by a 7-yard scramble by Matthew Stafford on third-and-6. Stafford was actually flagged for spiking the ball after the play, but it was nice to see him show some fire. His teammates responded well, as Bush picked up a 39-yard run on the very next play. Two straight throws to Durham combined to move the chains, and Stafford found Bush for an 18-yard touchdown on a middle screen two plays later.
The defense did its job again on the next Browns possession by forcing another three-and-out. Once again, it looked like the offense was going to respond with a touchdown, as the Lions moved down the field with three straight conversions on third down. Unfortunately, when the Lions got down to the Cleveland 28, Stafford was picked off when he went to the end zone. Patrick Edwards was the intended target, and the ball was deflected up into the air and intercepted.
The killer turnover easily could have deflated the momentum the Lions were building up, but the defense had other ideas by forcing their third straight three-and-out to open the second half. The Lions offense again capitalized on the stop, and this time there was no turnover. The Lions moved the chains on passes of 12 and 9 yards to Bush, and Pettigrew came up with a big 12-yard gain on third-and-7 thanks to a nice spin move after the catch. On the very next play, Stafford again found Fauria in the end zone, this time for a 23-yard touchdown, giving the Lions a 21-17 lead.
Cleveland finally moved the chains for the first time in the second half to open its next drive. However, it was all downhill from there. Weeden was flagged for intentional grounding on the next play, and a false start right after made it second-and-25. Little nearly hauled in a pass that would have been close to a first down, but he was unable to get two feet down inbounds. The ruling was upheld after a challenge, and the Browns had to punt after only going for 13 yards on third down.
Thanks to a Browns penalty on the punt, the Lions took over with great field position. They started their next drive at their own 41, and a 17-yard pass to Durham moved them into Cleveland territory. The drive stalled right after that play, but a David Akers field goal from 51 yards out put the Lions on top by 7 points.
Weeden and the Browns looked to finally have something going on offense after gains of 15, 7 and 18 yards to start their next drive. They moved into Lions territory, but this all came to a screeching halt thanks to an extremely dumb play by Weeden. He was under pressure and threw the ball up for grabs, allowing Levy to come out of nowhere for his second interception of the game.
The Lions turned the interception into more points. They took some time off the clock, moved the chains on third-and-3 thanks to a roughing the passer penalty and then scored a touchdown on a 10-yard pass to Fauria on third-and-4. The touchdown was Fauria's third of the day, and it put this game out of reach with the Lions going up by a score of 31-17. (The Browns ran out the final 2:01 on the next possession, as the Lions went into the prevent defense to end this game.)
This is a really big win for the Lions. They showed some real fight by bouncing back from a 17-7 halftime deficit, and they impressively outscored Cleveland 24-0 in the second half. The Lions are now 4-2 on the season, and they are still in first place in the NFC North heading into next week's game at home against the Cincinnati Bengals.