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Second glance: Stafford, Tate shine on winning drive

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Because of the countless wild things that happened after, the Lions' winning drive Sunday against the Packers didn't necessarily receive enough praise.

The nine-play, 80-yard drive featured two of the top individual plays by the offense this season — one by Matthew Stafford and the other by Golden Tate — and took nearly 4 minutes off the clock as the Lions took an 18-10 lead with 1:57 remaining.

Had Matt Prater made the extra point, the game effectively would've been out of reach, and the Lions could've avoided the stressful finish.

The drive, which began at the 5:55 mark of the final quarter, started like many of the failed possessions this season. The first play was a 1-yard run by Joique Bell. The second was an incomplete pass as cornerback Damarious Randall broke up a slant to Calvin Johnson.

Then, the Lions converted one of the most important third downs of the season. Stafford had to step forward in the pocket with some pressure coming from his left. Then, he seemed to spot Lance Moore open, but showed good pocket presence as he rolled to the left just before cornerback Casey Hayward nearly sacked him.

Stafford kept running to the left and evaded defensive tackle Mike Daniels. Then, while on the run, Stafford threw a 13-yard pass across his body to Johnson, who stopped his route as he saw Stafford scrambling.

The Lions followed that with a well-timed gadget play as Tate gained 11 yards on a reverse.

Then, Bell lost a yard on a carry. Stafford hit Theo Riddick for a screen on which the running back gained 8 yards thanks to good blocks from Moore and tight end Eric Ebron. But the Lions still faced third-and-3 and were not yet in field-goal range.

Lions receiver Golden Tate (15) dodges two Packers players (circled) who get their hands on him before running to the 5.

Then, Tate made an exceptional play on a 43-yard reception, his longest of the season. The receiver ran his route just beyond the line to gain and was open quickly after some confusion in the Green Bay secondary.

Tate bounced off a tackle attempt by cornerback Sam Shields and spun away from the grasp of safety Morgan Burnett, and he ran all the way to the 5, taking a bow after Randall threw him out of bounds.

Tight end Brandon Pettigrew made a key blindside block on Hayward to open the field, too.

On first-and-goal, Bell gained a yard, and the clock ran to the 2-minute warning. The Lions then ran play-action, and after Moore faked a block, he came free on a slant for a 4-yard touchdown that proved to be the winner.

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com

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