Matthew Stafford's biggest play in Sunday's 24-23 win over the New Orleans Saints might've been a tackle.
After Stafford's second interception, a pass that bounced off tight end Jordan Thompson's hands and right to Kenny Vaccaro, there was a good chance the safety was heading for a touchdown. Vaccaro breezed past left tackle Riley Reiff, and Stafford was the only Lions player between him and the end zone. Luckily for the Lions, Stafford made the tackle.
Matthew Stafford talks about Golden Tate and the Lions' win against the Saints.
"I was trying to get the ball out really," the quarterback said. "I was trying to make sure he didn't cut back on me. He's obviously a way better athlete than I am. I was just using the sideline as an extra defender trying to play a little good defense and get him down."
Stafford brought Vacarro down at the Detroit 49, and the Lions defense held the Saints to a field goal, which gave them a 23-10 lead with 5:24 remaining. Had New Orleans scored a touchdown, the deficit likely would've been too large to overcome.
Lions players laughed during the week about the idea of carrying offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi off the field a la Jim Schwartz last week. Perhaps they should've carried Lombardi's son off the field after the boy proved to have psychic powers.
"He sat by me, and this kid is maybe 10 years old," wide receiver Golden Tate said. "And he said, 'This is what's going to happen. We're about to get a stop, score quick, our defense will get a stop and we're going to win by 1.'
"And that's what happened."
In a game with several breaks for the Lions, Lombardi's son was apparently one of the good luck charms.
It's no coincidence the Lions are 3-1 with strong safety James Ihedigbo in the lineup. Since he returned from a nerve injury in Week 4, Ihedigbo has played exceptionally.
On Sunday, Ihedigbo was all over the field with eight tackles, two for loss, a sack and a fumble recovery.
"Our whole defense, our whole team came out there with the mindset, this is a big game," Ihedigbo said. "We talk about being good and a lot of teams being good, but we said we want to be great. And this is a test for us. Five minutes left, going through that adversity, you show signs of a great football team the way we finished."
In four games this year, Ihedigbo has 23 tackles, three for loss, 2½ sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
The Lions have had some costly injuries, but they benefited from some ailments on the other side Sunday. In addition to All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham being extremely limited, several Saints players left Sunday's game at different points.
Starting center Jonathan Goodwin left in the second quarter and was replaced by Tim Lelito (Grand Valley State), and starting cornerback Keenan Lewis (cramps, hamstring) missed the final series.
Running back Pierre Thomas missed most of the second half and wide receiver Kenny Stills was out briefly. Both players took hard hits from Lions safety Glover Quin.
Defensive end Glenn Foster left the game with a knee injury and was seen on crutches. Nose tackle Brodrick Bunkley (concussion) also left and didn't return.