Jim Caldwell likes fighting spirit shown by Lions

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford didn't have his best game against the Saints on Sunday. But the 13-point comeback in the last four minutes stands out as one of the team's most memorable in years.

Many Lions fans left Ford Field after Stafford threw his second interception of the game, which led to a Saints field goal that made it 23-10 with 5:23 left. Stafford tossed a pair of touchdowns in the final four minutes to help the Lions overcome the deficit and win their second straight game.

The unlikely comeback reminded coach Jim Caldwell of a heavyweight fight from 1980, when Mike Weaver beat Big John Tate.

"There was a slugfest and it went on for 14 rounds and Weaver had lost every single round and he was behind," Caldwell said Monday in his weekly press conference. "In the last round, he found a bit of a burst of energy and was able to knock Tate out in that last round to win the championship.

"We didn't win any championship, but we found a burst of energy at the end that was brought on by a defense that did a nice job in terms of limited them when they had to, and an offense that moved it down the field and put it in the end zone when they were called upon to do so."

Though Stafford and the offense will get much of the credit, the defense did a good job of holding the Saints out of the end zone, and a key interception by Glover Quin helped set up the second touchdown.

"In the last quarter, they scored six points (two field goals) and we had two touchdowns and that was the difference in the game," Caldwell said. "When you can get touchdowns rather than field goals, you're going to have a chance."

Stafford finished 27-of-40 for 299 yards with the two touchdowns and two interceptions. With Calvin Johnson not at 100 percent for at least the last four games, the offense has struggled while Stafford has gotten more comfortable with other receivers such as Golden Tate, Jeremy Ross and Corey Fuller.

"He's been adjusting well. It's not easy when one of the absolute all-time greats is no longer in your lineup for a quarterback who's been accustomed to throwing to him," Caldwell said. "It's going to take a bit of an adjustment, but he's adjusted well when you look at how many different receivers he's been able to spread the ball around to.

"You'll see it continue to get better, but hopefully it doesn't have to go on much longer before (Johnson) is back."

Fuller, who caught the go-ahead touchdown with 1:48 left, is continuing to develop, in an expanded role while Johnson has been limited.

"(Fuller) is just barely scratching the surface. He's long, he can run, he's smart, he's tough and you can see he can go up and make plays for you as well," Caldwell said. "You're going to continue to see him get better. His role is a little bit different with Calvin not in and he's been able to answer the bell a little bit."

Personnel dept.

The Lions signed veteran tight end Kellen Davis, who played at Michigan State, and released backup safety Jerome Couplin.

Davis (6-foot-7, 265 pounds) is in his seventh season, playing five with the Bears and last season as a backup with the Seahawks.

... The Lions signed receiver Ifeanyi Momah (6-7, 239) to the practice squad, replacing Jordon Thompson. Momah, who played at Boston College, got some first-team reps with the Eagles in the preseason but was released after a disappointing camp.