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).

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