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>>caption: PETTIGREW FOUGHT OFF
TWO DEFENDERS TO CATCH THE
TYING TOUCHDOWN PASS<<
@ FORD FIELD:
What looked to be the most
humiliating in a long line of defeats
turned into the most thrilling Lions
win of the Ford Field era on the game's
final play Sunday.
Detroit trailed 24-3 in the 1st-Qtr in a match-up of two 1-8 teams. The Lions
rallied to go ahead, fell behind again, then edged the even more inept Cleveland
Detroit got a second chance after it looked like the game was over. Lions QBack
Matthew Stafford scrambled on a 2nd-&-10 at the Cleveland 32-yard line and threw
an end zone interception to Brodney Pool as time expired. However, because Lions
WR Bryant Johnson had been pushed out of the end zone on the "Hail Mary" play,
Browns safety Hank Poteat was flagged for pass interference. The ball was moved
to the Brownie 1-yard line and the Lions were awarded one more untimed down.
Stafford was hit hard after he threw the INT, went to the sidelines and laId on his
back while being examined by team doctors. Second string QBack Daunte Culpepper
went on the field to take over.
Cleveland head coach Eric Mangini then made a colossal blunder and called timeout
to set his defense. Because the timeout was called, a hurting Stafford was allowed to
return to the field once play was ready to resume.
In spite of an ailing left/non-throwing shoulder, Stafford fought through the pain
and fired a bullet over the middle to fellow rookie T-End Brandon Pettigrew, who held
on for the touchdown even though he was double covered.
The TD tied the game at 37 and Jason Hanson's PAT kick gave the Lions the win.
With no Lion timeouts remaining, Stafford led the Lions on a 10-play, 88-yard
winning drive in the game's final 1-min, 46-sec. Stafford's incredible afternoon
saw him complete 26-of-43 passes for 422-yards and five touchdowns, the yardage
and TD figures being both new career-highs for Stafford and Lions rookie records.
The 21-year old Stafford became the youngest NFL player to ever throw for five
touchdowns in a single game and the first NFL rookie to do it since Ray Buivid of
the 1937 Chicago Bears. The last Lion with five TD tosses in a game was Gary
Danielson vs Minnesota in 1978.
The Stafford heroics ruined was was also a career day for Browns QBack Brady
Quinn, whose four touchdown passes totaled one more than he'd had in his entire
NFL career. In his second game after regaining his starting job Quinn went 21-for-33
The two horrible defenses produced an entertaining game to watch. The 75
combined points came the result of a multitude of uncovered receivers and three
touchdown pass plays of 40 or more yards.
The game had a calm beginning with Cleveland's Phil Dawson (44-yards) and
Detroit's Hanson (31-yards) exchanging field goals. Quinn then connected for three
consecutive touchdown passes of 59-yards to Mohamed Massaquoi, 40-yards to Chansi
Stuckey and a mere 4-yards to Joshua Cribbs. On a swing-out to the left side, Lions
rookie RBack Aaron Brown caught a 26-yard TD pass from Stafford for Brown's first
pro touchdown to put the score at 24-10 with 30-sec to go in the 1st-Qtr.
It was Detroit's turn to get three straight scores and they followed Brown's TD
with two more Stafford touchdown passes in the 2nd-Qtr of 25-yards to Kevin Smith
and 75-yards to Calvin Johnson that deadlocked the contest 24-all. Dawson's 29-yard
FG with 2-sec of the clock gave Cleveland a 27-24 halftime lead.
The last two plays of the opening half displayed the inept ability of the two teams.
Although they still had two timeouts remaining, the Browns ran four plays to gain 20-
yards and burn clock. Then, out of a fake field goal formation, Dawson passed toward
the left sideline for a 10-yard gain to former Lion WR Mike Furrey and a first down.
Because they failed to utilize their timeouts earlier, only 6-sec remained on the clock
so the Browns were forced to go for a field goal anyway or risk getting nothing.
As Dawson lined up for what would be his second FG of the game, the Lions only
had 10 men on the field. Detroit called timeout, not to substitute but to try and get
ready for another possible fake. Perhaps Cleveland should have faked it again because
when the Lions went back out on the field they still were a man short with only 10
Things settled down for a bit after intermission in what was a mostly boring 3rd-
Qtr. Detroit then went ahead for the first time 31-27 on a 1-yard Stafford to T-End
Will Heller touchdown pass with 2:47 left in the frame. Detroit's next possession was
deep in its own territory and with 41-sec to go in the quarter the Lions were called
for both holding in their own end zone and intentional grounding by Stafford. Both
are safety infractions and that brought the Browns within 31-29.
The Browns went back ahead on a methodical 14-play/63-yard/6m47s drive.
Quinn passed short right for a 2-yard TD to former Detroit T-End Michael Gaines,
who backed into the right corner of the end zone. Jamal Lewis then raced up the
middle on a direct snap for a 2-pt conversion that restored Cleveland's lead at 37-31.
Pool intercepted Stafford on Detroit's follow-up drive and with 3:40 to play
it looked like the Lions would lose again. But after the Browns were forced to punt,
Stafford engineered the long winning march.
Calvin Johnson was Stafford's favorite target with seven receptions for 161-yards.
Kevin Smith caught four balls for 104-yards and also rushed 12 times for 45-yards.
Cleveland's Massaquoi had five grabs for 115-yards and Lewis had 24 carries
Stafford's status for Thursday's annual Thanksgiving contest vs Green Bay in
unknown. Stafford was icing the injured left shoulder in the post-game locker room
and X-Rays showed no fracture of the collarbone, but more tests are planned.
LIONS H-COACH JIM SCHWARTZ: "[Stafford] just said, 'I'm ready.' He could walk...There
was no one who was going to stop him from going back on the field. He had come way too
far in that game to not finish it...Matt's best play of the day might have been eluding four
team doctors to get back on the field."
LIONS QB MATTHEW STAFFORD: "I heard timeout over the loudspeaker and knew that
was probably my only chance to get back in. It was my left shoulder and don't really need
it to throw. So they helped me up...and I ran out there...This ice is numbing it up pretty
good...I threw a bad pick about four minutes left - the defense did a great job of getting
us the ball back and guys were scrambling on that two-minute drive just making things
happen. It was a great team win."
LIONS T-END BRANDON PETTIGREW: "I thought the game was over [before the last penalty
flag was thrown]. We all did...You better make that [do-over final] play or a bunch of people
are going to be looking at you sideways. It's all or nothing. They called my number, I had to
catch it...We actually just put that [play] in...But we worked on it every day in practice this
week...[Stafford's injury return] made it so much bigger. It shows how much heart he has.
He's the guy. That's the type of player he is. He's going to step in hurt at the end of the
game and he's the guy who's going to do it."
LIONS WR CALVIN JOHNSON: "We knew they had come out strong in most of their
games this season, so we knew that we could get back in this game if we just take
our time, don't get ahead of ourselves and just fight back. That's what we did...
We just wanted to get the safety moving [on his 75-yard TD catch], hit him with
a double-move and he bit on it. We definitely took advantage of it...[Stafford]
was on point today, a tight spiral. The kid has a tremendous upside. Yeah, he's a
rookie, he's going to make mistakes, but his upside is so large in the future he's
going to be a heck of a player."
LIONS CEN DOMINIC RAIOLA: "[Stafford] overcame the interceptions to throw five
touchdowns...When we were down 24-3 nobody panicked. That was one of the turning
points as an offense."
LIONS LB LARRY FOOTE: "We got talent. It's about executing and going out there and
competing. It shows that we didn't quit and we finally finished our game, and we took
every second of the game to win but we needed that type of game. Our two wins this
year have been dogfights. It let's these young guys know that nothing comes easy in
this league and it isn't over till it's over."
BROWNS H-COACH ERIC MANGINI: "[The last timeout] was more a function of wanting
to make sure we had the right personnel and we wanted to take a look at what they were
going to do. We had the timeout so at that point I thought it was a good idea to use it,
look at it, and get the guys in spots we thought they needed to be in...we just couldn't
close it out...I'm sick about the outcome."
BROWNS QB BRADY QUINN: "I was praying and hoping that our defense could get
a stop for us...They brought pressure more than we could handle."
BROWNS DB HANK POTEAT: "Once the quarterback rotated out of the pocket and
they were in the end zone, you try to force the receiver out of bounds. That's what
I tried to do...I'm just so upset that my team fought so hard late in the game to put
us in a situation to win and it came down to the penalty that I caused."
BROWNS LB KAMERION WIMBLEY: " It was an exciting game down to the end. The
offenses were out there battling, putting up big numbers for Detroit and for our team
as well. It was tough, it came down to the last play, they were able to execute and
come up with the win."
By snapping a six game losing streak the 2-8 Lions avoided becoming the first ever
NFL team to go 2-32 over a 34 game stretch.
Stafford threw two interceptions and recovered his own fumble.
Hanson's winning PAT gave him 8-P in the game and a career total of 1,804 as
the seventh player in NFL history to reach the 1,800-P plateau.
Lions CB Phillip Buchanon played in his 100th NFL game.
Heller has only 14 receptions this season, but has scored touchdowns in each of
Detroit's last two games.
The game was the first ever regular season meeting between the Lions and Browns
at Ford Field.
Announced attendance was 43,170.
A pre-game moment of silence was observed in memory of Stefanie Spielman.
The wife of former Lions and Browns LBacker Chris Spielman passed away Thursday
after a long battle with cancer.
Halftime ceremonies unveiled the first dozen members of the "Pride of the Lions"
display, a listing of names on the facing of the south side suites. All 12 are members
of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH. Four of the five living members of the
charter class were in attendance: CB Lem Barney, S Yale Lary, TE Charlie Sanders
and LB Joe Schmidt. RBack Barry Sanders pre-taped a video board acceptance.
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