Lions Den: Detroit Cruises Past Saints

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For the first time this season, the Detroit Lions (8-4) didn’t use late game drama to win, as they defeated the New Orleans Saints (5-7) 28-13 on Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford continued his MVP-caliber season, throwing for 341 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday. He was very efficient throwing the ball, completing 71 percent of his passes. Stafford’s biggest throw of the day was a 66-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate while getting knocked down to increase the Lions’ lead from six to 12 points.

New Orleans isn’t a great defense, and that led to the Lions having some success running the ball. Zach Zenner led all rushers with 40 yards on nine carries, while Dwayne Washington rushed for 21 yards on seven carries. Theo Riddick didn’t do much rushing the ball, but was able to get a 1-yard touchdown reception, giving the Lions a 10-0 lead with 13:05 to go in the second quarter.

Detroit receiver Marvin Jones was inactive on Sunday with a thigh injury, allowing Tate to get more opportunities. Tate exploded for eight receptions, 145 yards and a touchdown. Emerging wide receiver Anquan Boldin finished the game with four catches for 40 yards. Boldin had a limited role on Sunday, but should be more involved going forward.

The Lions’ defense stole the show, coming away with three interceptions. Glover Quin, Tavon Wilson and Miles Killebrew each had a pick in the game, but Wilson’s was the most important. Detroit was leading 28-13 with 5:26 left in the game when Wilson intercepted Saints quarterback Drew Brees’ pass, ending any potential comeback hope.

Brees was able to throw for 326 yards, but was unable to get in the endzone. Detroit’s defensive system is set up to allow underneath routes to be completed, but not to allow deep passes. Brees’ longest pass was a 39-yard pass to Brandin Cooks, but other than that, Detroit’s defense kept Saints receivers in front of them.

Detroit’s secondary stepped up in a big way, but the front seven had a great game as well. Saints running backs combined for 46 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Their lone touchdown came on a 1-yard run by fullback John Kuhn. Other than the touchdown, New Orleans had trouble running the ball, as the Lions were in the backfield consistently.

The Lions will look to build on this performance when they head home to take on the Chicago Bears at Ford Field next Sunday at 1 p.m. on Fox.