Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/9/12

DETROIT -- Matt Stafford looked shaky in the first half but poised when the Detroit Lions needed him most.

Stafford's 5-yard touchdown to running back Kevin Smith with 10 seconds remaining gave the Lions a 27-23 opening-day victory over the St. Louis Rams at Ford Field Sunday. Stafford overcame three first-half interceptions and passed for 355 yards to spoil Jeff Fisher's debut as the Rams' head coach.

Greg Zuerlein's 46-yard field goal put the Rams ahead 23-20 with 1:55 left before Stafford led the Lions on a nine-play, 80-yard drive. St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford completed 17 of 25 passes for 198 yards and a touchdown.

Jason Hanson's 45-yard field goal completed the Lions' first drive of the second half and tied the game 13-13. The Rams regained the lead with 9:45 remaining on Bradford's 23-yard completion to Brandon Gibson, who beat the one-on-one coverage of cornerback Jonte Green down the left sideline.

St. Louis' celebration was short-lived. Left tackle Rodger Saffold was carted off after the play with a neck injury. Saffold's upper body was twisted awkwardly as he attempted to block safety John Wendling and apparently contacted guard Rokevious Watkins.

Smith's 5-yard run with 7:19 left allowed the Lions to tie it again at 20-20. Stafford completed three passes to tight end Brandon Pettigrew for 62 of the 80 yards on the drive.

Stafford's turnovers allowed the Rams to grab a 13-10 halftime lead. St. Louis took the lead with 1:28 remaining in the half when Cortland Finnegan stepped in front of Calvin Johnson and returned an interception 31 yards for a touchdown.

Earlier, Stafford was picked off by rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins at the goal line to halt a long opening drive. Linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar made the Rams' second interception when he cut in front of Pettigrew after the Lions had reached the St. Louis 16-yard line.

Detroit reserve running back Joique Bell scored the game's initial touchdown and the first of his career when he plunged in from the 1-yard line with 9:26 left in the half. That sandwiched field goals of 48 and 29 yards by Zuerlein.

Following Finnegan's score to make it 13-7, the Lions cut the deficit in half on Hanson's 41-yard field goal. That was set up by a 51-yard pass from Stafford to Calvin Johnson. Pettigrew dropped a potential touchdown reception two plays before Hanson's kick.

NOTES: Hanson became the first player in NFL history to play in a 21st season with one franchise. The previous record was 20, which he shared last season with Jackie Slater (Los Angeles Rams) and Darrell Green (Washington). ... Stafford became the fifth quarterback in NFL history to reach 8,000 passing yards in 30 career starts, joining Kurt Warner, Dan Marino, Tony Romo and Aaron Rodgers. Stafford has 8,195 career passing yards. ... Both teams deactivated two defensive starters because of injuries -- Detroit cornerback Chris Houston (ankle) and safety Louis Delmas (knee) and St. Louis tackle Michael Brockers (ankle) and safety Darian Stewart (hamstring).

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Report: Geno Smith 'intent' on beating out Ryan Fitzpatrick

Greg Jennings: Ryan Tannehill has had his hands tied by coaches

Josh McDaniels 'happy' with Pats but wants to be a head coach again

WATCH: Jim Harbaugh in cleats throws out first pitch at Cubs game

Why Rickie Fowler will win the PGA Championship


Warren Sapp bitten on arm by shark

Baker considering removing Papelbon from closer role?

Greg Hardy struggling to find work, reportedly even in CFL

Jets players told not to discuss Ryan Fitzpatrick situation

Brock Lesnar won't be punished by WWE for UFC drug test

Report: Cowboys to be fined up to $250K for suspended players

Report: Ravens WR Mike Wallace failed conditioning test

WATCH: Kobe Bryant drives Ferrari around Italian racetrack

Terrelle Pryor shouts out Ohio State after ban ends

Justin Timberlake advocates for Memphis to join Big 12

Poll: Las Vegas residents don’t support public funds for NFL stadium

Conor McGregor talks trash to Nate Diaz on ‘Conan’

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Real Madrid can’t train at Norwegian school because of the kids

Newspaper uses Michael Jordan ‘crying face’ as image

Equipment manager Blake Griffin punched no longer works for Clippers

Report: Nicks signing one-year deal with Saints

Reds 'picking up the pace' on Jay Bruce trade talks

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker