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Lions-Saints final score: Detroit’s wild comeback falls short, 52-38

That was technically a football game, I’m told.

Detroit Lions v New Orleans Saints Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

That’s not exactly the way the Detroit Lions wanted to head into the bye week. Detroit was dominated from front to back against the New Orleans Saints, eventually losing 45-17. Let’s get to the recap.

First half

The game got off to a suboptimal start after a Saints punt pinned the Lions inside their own 2-yard line. After gaining just one yard on their first two plays, Matthew Stafford dropped back, couldn’t find anyone open and was promptly sacked in the end zone. To make matters worse, he fumbled the ball and it was immediately recovered by the Saints for a touchdown. Four minutes in and the Lions were down 7-0.

The Lions were quick to respond, however. Aided by a pass interference penalty, Stafford drew the team to midfield and Golden Tate took care of the rest:

But the Lions’ defense just had no answer for the Saints’ offense in the first quarter. New Orleans would get big chunks of yards in both the passing and running game, as Detroit had issues tackling, covering and rushing the passer. In other words: nothing was going right for the Lions. The Saints took a 17-7 lead into the second quarter.

The offense couldn’t get much of anything else right, either. In their first possession of the second quarter, Stafford couldn’t dodge an unblocked pass rusher and immediately fumbled it away. The Saints immediately cashed in and the route was on, 24-7.

Detroit would answer with a field goal, but still had no answer for New Orleans’ offense. New Orleans would add another touchdown on their next drive.

The Lions would have one more opportunity to pull within two possessions before the half, but with first-and-goal from the 4-yard line, the Lions couldn’t punch it in on four consecutive plays; Darren Fells caught a pass on fourth down, but fell a yard short of six points. Detroit trailed 31-10 at the half.

Second half

A bunch of other bad things happen. Here’s a laundry list:

  • Matthew Stafford pick-six
  • Glover Quin knocked out with a concussion
  • Jim Caldwell wanted the Lions to try a 56-yard field goal... and Matt Prater missed it.
  • Golden Tate suffered an injured shoulder and did not return
  • Offensive lineman Greg Robinson, Rick Wagner and Emmett Cleary suffered injuries (Wagner got his ankle taped and came back in)
  • The Lions continued to trot out a hobbled Matthew Stafford late into the third quarter, despite no offensive line and being down by four possessions.

Then some good things happened:

  • Marvin Jones made a ridiculous touchdown catch
  • Jamal Agnew had two good punt returns, including a 74-yard touchdown
  • A’Shawn Robinson got a pick-six

But the Saints got a dagger when a Stafford pass was deflected—for the 12th time in the game—and picked off in the endzone.

The Lions had one more shot, but a pass to Theo Riddick bounced off his hands and into the hands of an awaiting Saints defender—Stafford’s third interception on the day.

In the end, despite the wacky comeback, the Lions had no real business being in that game. They were gashed on defense, and the Lions offense turned the ball over five times.

Needless to say, they have a lot to clean up during the bye week.

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.