Originally written October 14, 2012 on isportsweb.com:
Detroit_lions_v_abe8
It’s amazing how a great fourth quarter can erase three quarters of absolutely pitiful play.
After trailing the Philadelphia Eagles 13-6 after three frames, Matthew Stafford and the Detroit offense awoke from their slumber, scoring 17 points in the fourth quarter.
Detroit kicker Jason Hanson made a 19-yard field goal to send the game to overtime, then drilled a 45-yarder to win it.
Hanson kicked a total of four field goals, leading the Lions to the 26-23 win.
Stafford and wideout Calvin Johnson finally got on the same page late in the game, and the two connected for several big plays.  Johnson finished with six catches for 135 yards, and along with TE Tony Scheffler and WR Nate Burleson, led the Lions’ receiving corps down the stretch.
Stafford led the Lions down the field on the game-tying drive with just more than 2:00 remaining.  The key play of the drive was a 16-yard connection from Stafford to Johnson that was initially ruled incomplete.  Upon further review, Megatron somehow was able to grab the ball with both tiptoes in bounds and hang on, and the Lions were in field goal range.
This is a huge win for the Lions, who at 2-3, are still in the NFC North race with the Packers struggling.
The victory feels good for head coach Jim Schwartz and the Lions, but much remains to be fixed.  For a vast majority of the game, the Lions looked lost offensively.  Detroit committed an NFL season-high 16 penalties, many of which came on offense.  The offensive line committed too many false starts, and even Johnson was flagged for jumping early.
Overcoming the 132 penalty yards is something to build on, but Detroit won’t be able to consistently win with so many mistakes.
Stafford looked flat-out bad for much of the game, throwing a bad interception into double coverage immediately after the Lions had gotten a turnover of their own inside Eagles’ territory.  Stafford did finish with 311 yards passing, as well as a rushing touchdown, but really struggled with his accuracy until late in the game.  On more than one occasion, Stafford missed open receivers badly.  He completed only 22 of his 45 pass attempts, and was 7-for-21 at one point.
While Stafford struggled early, the defense picked up the slack, keeping Detroit in the game.  Even though Detroit scored only six points in the first half, the defense gave up
Tulloch and the defense knocked Vick around all day
only seven, giving the team a chance.
Louis Delmas certainly gave the defense a lift, and had a nice interception in the game as well as seven tackles.  Nick Fairley probably played the best game of his career in his first NFL start, recording half a sack on top of a tackle for loss and three quarterback hits.
The defense was solid overall, although quarterback Michael Vick was able to put together a very nice second half.  The defensive line got consistent pressure, hitting Vick 11 times to go with three sacks.  The Lions also forced three Philly turnovers.
The Detroit Lions have become known as the ‘Comeback Cats’ after their late-game heroics last year, and it seems the team still has some magic left, at least for now.
Continue committing 16 penalties a game and that magic will disappear quickly.

Follow me on twitter @ScottPeceny
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