Early on, it looked like the Lions were going to walk all over the Saints. The offense was rolling. The defense was stout. And Detroit jumped to a 21-0 lead in the first seven minutes of the game.
But the Saints would slowly crawl their way back, even having a potential game-winning possession in the final five minutes of the game. But in the end, the Lions made just enough plays to hold onto their lead and maintain a healthy lead in the NFC Playoff picture.
The Saints won the toss and deferred, giving Detroit the opportunity to get the ball first. After a false start to start the drive, the Lions ran the ball twice to David Montgomery and got themselves into a third-and-7. Detroit went right back to MOntgomery on a draw play and it moved the chains. A few plays later, Jared Goff withstood a hit and found Jameson Williams for 12 yards—and a roughing the passer added another 15 to it. From there, Jahmyr Gibbs picked up 36 yards on a brilliant run to set the Lions up first-and-goal. David Montgomery punched it in for there for an early 7-0 Lions lead.
On the very first play of the Saints’ first offensive possession, a Derek Carr pass bounced off a tight ends hands, and rookie Brian Branch made an impressive catch for the interception.
Three plays later, Goff found tight end Sam LaPorta for a 13-yard touchdown and an early 14-0 Lions lead.
Detroit’s defense showed up again, with a couple of pass breakups: one by Jalen Reeves-Maybin and another by Cameron Sutton—to force a quick three-and-out.
It only took three plays for the Lions offense to tack on a third touchdown. After a failed run, LaPorta picked up 29 yards on a catch-and-run. Then Amon-Ra St. Brown followed it up with his own YAC King impression, taking a short pass for a 25-yard touchdown. 21-0 Lions.
The defense picked up another quick three-and-out. A tackle for loss from Jack Campbell set up a third down, and recent addition Bruce Irvin ended the drive with a sack:
Detroit didn’t add to their lead, though, as Jared Goff was sacked on third-and-11 with an impressive pass rush move from Zack Baun on Penei Sewell.
The Saints finally moved the chains for the first time with four minutes left in the first quarter after Taysom Hill scampered for 21 yards. But that would be in for the drive, after Carr airmailed a ball on third-and-9.
The Lions would punt the ball right back to them, though. On a third-and-7, Goff just missed Josh Reynolds for a big gain. On the punt, the Saints committed a holding penalty that forced their next offensive drive to start inside their own 20-yard line.
The Saints moved to midfield with a checkdown pass to Alvin Kamara that picked up a third-and-5 conversion. Then on a third-and-16, Carr found a wide open A.T. Perry for a big 30-yard gain. Cameron Sutton and Tracy Walker left a big hole in the zone there. Another third-down conversion for the Saints moved them into the red zone, as Carr found Chris Olave, who had beaten Kerby Joseph in one-on-one coverage.
Could the Saints fix their red zone issues? They did on this drive. Carr found the fountain of youth Jimmy Graham, who put a nasty move on Walker to get wide open for the 6-yard touchdown. 21-7 Lions.
One the first play of the next drive, Lions center Frank Ragnow went down with an injury and was carted to the locker room, forcing Graham Glasgow to center and rookie Colby Sorsdal at right guard. Ragnow was announced as questionable to return with a knee injury. Ragnow was later downgraded to out.
The two team would trade punts on the next possessions, leaving the ball back with Detroit with 5:24 left in the half. Goff hit LaPorta for a big third-and-5 conversion for 14 yards. At midfield, the Lions went a little conservative, hoping to bleed as much clock as possible to hold a two-score lead at halftime.
At the two-minute warning, Goff threw an absolute dart to St. Brown for a 24-yard gain on third-and-7. On another third-and-7, Goff couldn’t find St. Brown, and the Lions settled for a 26-yard field goal to end the half. 24-7 Lions.
The Saints got the ball to start the second half. Kamara picked up a couple of first downs to get to midfield quickly. A Taysom HIll catch moved New Orleans into field goal territory. Detroit again struggled to get off the field on a third-and-long, and it cost them. Facing a third-and-12, Carr found Olave for a 33-yard gain.
On the next play, Kamara punched it in from the 2-yard line to make it 24-14 Lions.
Detroit responded with a quick three-and-out, and suddenly it was a game again.
New Orleans quickly attacked the Lions defense with a 28-yard strike to Olave to start the next drive.
Carr then found tight end Foster Moreau for 19 and the Saints were in scoring position in a hurry. Three plays later, Hill ran a draw play on third down all the way down to the 1-yard line. Hill punched it in, and it was 24-21 Lions with just under five minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Desperate for a sign of life, the Lions offense got a huge play from LaPorta. Broken coverage left the rookie tight end wide open for a 48-yard gain.
Facing a third-and-5 in the red zone, the Lions went conservative again and ran a draw play. Montgomery only picked up 1 yard, so it wasn’t close enough for Detroit to go for it. Riley Patterson made it from 32 to make it 27-21 Lions at the end of the third quarter.
The Lions caught a huge break on the first offensive play of the fourth quarter, as Carr fumbled by colliding with a lineman, and Tracy Walker recovered.
Two plays later, the Lions pulled off a brilliant reverse to Jameson Williams for a 19-yard touchdown run. The Lions would miss the two-point conversion to hold their lead at 33-21 Lions.
The Saints responded by driving to midfield. A sack from Romeo Okwara forced a third-and-17, but New Orleans AGAIN was able to dig themselves out of a big hole thanks to a critical roughing the passer penalty that forced Carr out of the game.
Will HIll and Jameis Winston sharing quarterback duties, New Orleans moved into the red zone. Facing a third-and-13, the Saints converted AGAIN with what is one of the luckiest plays you’ll ever see. Winston threw what would have been an easy interception, but Brian Branch deflected it and it landed right in Olave’s hands.
Two plays later, Kamara punched it in to make it 33-28 Lions with 7:30 left.
The Lions went three-and-out yet again after David Montgomery dropped an easy third-down conversion.
That left the Saints with six minutes left and 82-yard to go to take their first lead of the game. The first two plays got New Orleans a quick 27 yards. At midfield, the Saints faced a fourth-and-6, but under pressure, Winston threw it behind the receiver and it fell incomplete.
Detroit would take over with 2:56 left, and the Saints holding two timeouts. LaPorta picked up an absolutely essential third-and-9 pass for 10 yards that allowed the Lions to bleed more clock.
The Saints had one more chance at a stop, but Goff made a gutsy play on third-and-9, finding Josh Reynolds under intense pressure for the game-winning conversion.