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Recap: Lions claw back, can't complete comeback against Saints in 35-29 loss

Nolan Bianchi
The Detroit News

Game summary

It was an all-too-familiar sight for the Detroit Lions on Sunday afternoon at Ford Field.

They capitalized on an early interception from future Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees, jumping out to a 14-0 lead, before allowing the opposition to stop all over them on home turf and eventually falling victim to the New Orleans saints in a 35-29 loss.

It was the third double-digit lead blown by the Lions this season. 

Final leaders


DET - Matthew Stafford: 17/31, 206 yds., 3 TD, Int.

NO - Drew Brees: 19/25, 246 yds., 2 TD, Int.


DET - Adrian Peterson: 11 atts., 36 yds., TD

NO - Alvin Kamara: 19 atts., 83 yds., TD


DET - Danny Amendola: 4 recs., 62 yds., TD

NO - Emmanuel Sanders: 6 recs., 

Saints running game ices victory over Lions

The Lions kick it deep with 3:40 left in the game. Alvin Kamara returns it to the 22. Saints lead, 35-29.

Drew Brees throws complete to Michael Burton for a gain of 3 yards.

Timeout #1 Detroit (3:29 4th)

Alvin Kamara is stopped after a gain of 2.

Timeout #2 Detroit (3:25 4th)

Tre'Quan Smith hauls in a tough catch with Jeff Okudah in coverage on third down. That's good for a 19-yard gain and a new set of downs at the New Orleans 46.

Latavius Murray rushes for 1 yard on first down.

Timeout #3 Detroit (2:33 4th)

Taysom Hill rushes for 6 yards on second down.

Two-minute warning

It's third-and-3 at the Detroit 47, as the Saints look to ice the game, and the Lions look to keep it alive.

Spoiler alert: New Orleans wins the battle of will. Kamara takes a pitch to the left side and picks up 5 yards for a new set of downs. That'll do it for this one, as the Saints get in victory formation.

FINAL: Saints 35, Lions 29

Lions draw within 6 points of Saints late in fourth

The Lions take over at the Saints 43.

Matthew Stafford loads up for a deep shot to Marvin Hall on first down, but the pass is a touch too far. Adrian Peterson is popped after a 2-yard gain on second down. Kerryon Johnson rushes up the middle for 5 yards on third down, bringing up fourth-and-2.

Johnson catches a pass near the sideline that's good for 3 yards and a new set of downs at the 32.

Injury alert: Lions RB Kerryon Johnson was injured on the play after barreling into a sideline attendant.

Peterson rushes for 3 yards on first down. The Lions are then flagged for a false start. Jamal Agnew catches a pass that's good for a whopping 1 yard. Marvin Jones doesn't even realize Stafford is throwing to him in the end zone on third down, resulting in an incompletion.

Kenny Golladay hauls in a 14-yard pass on fourth down to keep the drive alive.

Timeout #1 New Orleans (4:44 4th)

Stafford's throw to the end zone on the next play is intercepted, but there's a penalty for illegal contact. It'll be first-and-10 at the 14.

Stafford's first-down throw falls incomplete. He throws to Jesse James in the end zone on second down, another incompletion. Stafford throws complete to Swift on third down, but the 9-yard completion isn't enough for a first down, bringing up fourth-and-1.

Peterson barrels into the end zone for a 5-yard rushing touchdown.

Stafford throws it up to T.J. Hockenson on the two-point attempt, and connects. The Lions trail by 6.

Saints 35, Lions 29 (3:40 4th)

Ragland's third-down sack gets ball back for Lions 

The Saints take over from their own 24, up 35-21, with 9:34 to go in the game.

Alvin Kamara is wrapped up for a loss of 2 on first down. Drew Brees' second-down throw to Latavius Murray falls incomplete, bringing up third-and-12. Reggie Ragland gets into the backfield and sacks Brees for a loss of 7.

An awful punt by Thomas Morstead will give the Lions starting field position at the Saints 43.

Saints 35, Lions 21 (8:01 4th)

Lions offense soils chance to get back in game

The Lions take over at their own 2-yard-line, down 35-21, after the defensive stop.

Adrian Peterson rushes for 3 yards to give Detroit some breathing room. Matthew Stafford then gets it to Jason Cabinda for a 4-yard gain. Kenny Golladay hauls in a 17-yard reception on third down to keep the drive alive, and give the Lions a new set of downs at the 26.

Stafford scrambles for a pickup of 8. Peterson loses 2 yards on second down. Stafford is absolutely hammered by David Onyemata on third down for a loss of 9. 

Alvin Kamara is brought down at the New Orleans 24 on the punt return.

Saints 35, Lions 21 (9:34 4th)

Lions defense gets big stop in own territory

The Saints take over at their own 25 after a touchback. 

Alvin Kamara rushes for a yard on first down, then hauls in a 9-yard reception on second down to move the sticks.

Latavius Murray is stopped up the middle for a gain of 1. Kamara rushes for 8 yards on second down, bringing up third-and-1. Michael Burton picks up a new set of downs with a 4-yard gain up the middle. It's first-and-10 at the 48.

Kamara rushes for 4 yards on first down, then Murray comes in for his rotation, picking up 11 yards and a new first down at the Lions 37 to close the third quarter.

END 3RD: Saints 35, Lions 21

Kamara is dropped for a loss of 1 on first down, then the Lions defense forces a 2-yard loss by Murray on second down. It's third-and-13.

Amani Oruwariye appears to pick off Brees on third down, but the play is reversed after review. Nonetheless, the Saints will punt for the first time today.

The Saints' punt is downed at the 2.

Saints 35, Lions 21 (13:3 4th)

Lions cut into Saints lead on Hockenson's touchdown reception

The Lions take over at the 25. They trail 35-14 with 8:52 to go in the third quarter.

Adrian Peterson is stopped for no gain on first down. Danny Amendola on second down hauls in a 7-yard reception. the Lions rush to the line on third down, as Stafford throws complete to Marvin Jones for a pickup of 9 to the 41.

Peterson rushes for the longest run of the day by a Lions running back on the next play, 9 yards, but it's called back for a holding penalty on Marvin Jones.

Matthew Stafford's throw on the re-played first down is incomplete. D'Andre Swift rushes for a gain of 7 on second down, bringing up third-and-3. Stafford connects with T.J. Hockenson for an 8-yard completion to keep the drive alive. 

It's first-and-10 at the Saints 44.

Swift rushes for a yard on first down, then gets to the right-side edge for a 7-yard gain on second down. Jamal Agnew now carries the ball for Detroit, and he gets to the 34 to move the chains.

Saints linebacker Alex Anzalone is flagged for a pass interference penalty near the end zone, which will essentially serve as a 32-yard gain that'll set the Lions up with first-and-goal at the 2.

Peterson goes down short of the goal line, but the Saints are flagged for being offsides. It'll be first-and-goal at the 1.

The Lions run play-action, and Stafford kicks it to a wide-open T.J. Hockenson for an easy touchdown. The Lions have cut their deficit to two scores.

Saints 35, Lions 21 (4:19 3rd)

Saints extend lead to 35-14 to start half

Jack Fox's kickoff goes for a touchback. The Saints will take over at the 25.

Drew Brees hits Emmanuel Sanders, again finding an easy hole in the zone, for a 15-yard pickup on the first play of the half.

Latavius Murray rushes for 2 yards on first down, then moves the chains with a gain of 9.

Brees throws complete to Josh Hill on the next play, Hill fumbles around the 40, and the ball is recovered by the Saints at the 25. Bad bounce for Detroit, who already has next to nothing going its way right now.

Sanders catches a 4-yard pass on the next play. Brees' end-zone shot on second down misses the mark, bringing up third-and-6.

Brees again throws in Sanders' direction, moving the chains with a 12-yard gain. It's first-and-goal at the 9.

Kamara rushes for 5 yards on first down. A swing pass to Kamara on second down goes for a loss of 2 yards, bringing up third-and-goal from the 6.

Murray goes up the middle easily for a 6-yard rushing touchdown.

Saints 35, Lions 14 (8:52 3rd)

First-half leaders


DET - Matthew Stafford: 7/16, 133 yds., 2 TD, INT

NO - Drew Brees: 11/14, 179 yds., 2 TD, INT


DET - Adrian Peterson: 4 atts., 14 yds.

NO - Alvin Kamara: 11 atts., 61 yds.


DET - Danny Amendola: 1 rec., 50 yds.

NO - Emmanuel Sanders: 3 recs., 62 yds.

Lions put together putrid drive to end half, trail Saints 28-14

Detroit takes over at the 25, down 14, with 0:44 left in the half and two timeouts.

Matthew Stafford's first-down pass to Kenny Golladay is knocked away. He connects with Golladay on the next play, a 16-yard pickup to the 41.

Stafford is sacked on the next play for a loss of 2.

Timeout #2 Detroit (0:23 2nd)

The Lions get nothing on a screen pass to D'Andre Swift on second down.

Timeout #3 Detroit (0:17 2nd)

A third-down deep throw to Jamal Agnew is beyond the reach of his receiver. A truly putrid drive to end the half.

Jack Fox's punt ends the half.

END 2ND: Saints 28, Lions 14 

Saints take 28-14 lead against Lions before halftime

The Saints will take over at the Detroit 49 with 1:43 to go in the half and two timeouts. They lead, 21-14.

Drew Brees' first-down pass is thrown straight at the ground, an incompletion. Alvin Kamara is tripped up by Jeff Okudah for a 1-yard gain on second down.

Brees completes a throw to Tre'Quan Smith that's good for a gain of 18. A personal foul on Trey Flowers for roughing the passer will add 15 yards to the play, making it first-and-10 at the Lions 15. 

After review: It's ruled that Smith went down at the 35, instead, so it'll be first-and-10 at the 20.

Brees easily gets it to Smith on the next play for a 20-yard touchdown pass.

Saints 28, Lions 14 (0:44 2nd)

Lions offense sputters to close first half

The Lions will take over at the 25 after a touchback. They've given up 21 unanswered to the Saints, and trail by 7 with 3:03 left in the half.

Kerryon Johnson rushes for 5 yards on first down, his first carry of the game, then loses a yard on second down.

Two-minute warning 

Matthew Stafford's third-down throw to Danny Amendola misses the mark entirely. Amendola is then flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, which'll back the Lions up before they punt. 

Deonte Harris returns Jack Fox's punt to the Detroit 49.

Saints 21, Lions 14 (1:43 2nd)

Saints capitalize on interception, take 21-14 lead near end of half

New Orleans takes over at the 20 after the interception.

Alvin Kamara rushes for 3 yards on first down. Latavius Murray rushes up the middle for 6 yards on second down. The Lions have no answer for the Saints running game.

Drew Brees finds Emmanuel Sanders for a big chunk of change on third down that'll put New Orleans at the Detroit 46, a gain of 25 yards.

Deonte Harris catches a screen pass that's good for 10 yards and a new set of downs.

Murray rushes up the middle for a gain of 6 on first down. Kamara rushes up the middle for a gain of 12 on second down. Wash, rinse, repeat. It's first-and-10 at the Detroit 18.

Kamara finds the left edge on the next play and gets to the 8-yard-line for a gain of 10, bringing up first-and-goal.

Kamara on first down gets 6 to the left side. Brees hits Tre'Quan Smith in the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown pass.

Saints 21, Lions 14 (3:03 2nd)

Lions fail to regain lead as Stafford throws red-zone interception

Jamal Agnew lets the ball bounce in the end zone for a touchback. Detroit will take over at the 25.

Matthew Stafford rolls to his right, waits, waits, waits, and throws it up to Jesse James, who somehow comes down with it over a defender. That's a 31-yard gain that'll give the Lions a first down at the Saints 44.

Adrian Peterson rushes for 4 yards on first down. Stafford fakes the handoff and throws near the end zone to Marvin Jones, who's interfered with by Saints safety Marcus Williams.

The Lions will have a first down at the Saints 11.

Stafford gets too cute with a throw to Hockenson in the end zone, the throw is not far enough, and Patrick Robinson hauls in the interception. The Saints will get it at their own 20.

Lions 14, Saints 14 (8:29 2nd)

Saints tie Lions at 14 with 10:10 left in first half

New Orleans takes over at the 20.

Latavius Murray gashes Detroit up the middle for a gain of 7, then picks up a new set of downs with a 5-yard run to the left that'll mark the end of the first quarter.

Lions 14, Saints 7 (END 1ST)

It's first-and-10 for the Saints at their own 32.

Emmanuel Sanders finds a hole in the Lions' zone defense and waits for Drew Brees to hit him between the numbers for a 19-yard pickup that'll move New Orleans into Lions territory at the 49.

Alvin Kamara goes up the middle for a gain of 9 on first down. Romeo Okwara sacks Brees for a loss of 9 on the following play, forcing third-and-10. 

Matt Patricia challenges that Trey Flowers knocked the ball loose before Brees hit the ground, and then recovered for Detroit. The play stands. It's still third-and-10 at the 49. Detroit has been charged a timeout.

Timeout #1 Detroit (12:44 2nd)

Brees barely escapes pressure from Okwara again, and finds Taysom Hill for a 6-yard gain. The Saints will go for it on fourth down.

Brees drops a dime into the arms of Kamara for a 29-yard gain down the right sideline, bringing up first-and-10 at the 14.

Hill fumbles the next snap, it's recovered by Kamara, and Flowers brings him down for a loss of 6 to make it second-and-16. Brees gets it to Murray over the middle for a 19-yard gain on the next play, though, and the Saints will have it first-and-goal at the 1.

Injury alert: Saints WR Tre'Quan Smith was injured on the play.

Kamara scores from a yard out to bring the Saints within an extra point of tying the game.

Lions 14, Saints 14 (10:10 2nd)

Lions offense stumped late in first quarter, punt for first time today

The Lions take over at their own 21 after a return by Jamal Agnew.

Matthew Stafford's first-down throw to T.J. Hockenson is a touch too far, though the second-year tight end would argue that he was interfered with. Stafford is right on the money with a second-down throw to D'Andre Swift for a 14-yard connection that'll make it first-and-10 at the 36.

Swift gets it on the next play, busting it to the left side for a gain of 7. A quick throw to Kenny Golladay on second down is broken up by Patrick Robinson. Stafford tries to step up in the pocket and get away on third down, but he's swallowed whole by Cam Jordan. 

Jack Fox's punt is returned to the Saints 20.

Lions 14, Saints 7 (0:52 1st)

Saints answer with long touchdown drive

The Saints will take over from their own 25 after a touchback. 

Drew Brees rolls out to his right and hits Marque Calloway for a 16-yard completion on first down.

Alvin Kamara gets up the middle for a gain of 3 on first down. Deonte Harris is stuffed near the line-to-gain after a gain of 6, bringing up third-and-1. Latavius Murray moves the chains with a tough 2-yard gain.

Brees takes a shot to Kamara down the right sideline, but it's out of reach. Murray rushes for 7 yards on second down. Kamara's 5-yard pickup on third down gives New Orleans a first down at the Detroit 36.

Brees gets it to Emmanuel Sanders on first down for a pickup of 18, to the 18-yard-line.

Harris takes a jet sweep for 4 yards on first down. Kamara cuts up the middle on second down for an 8-yard gain, bringing up another first down for the Saints. They have it at the 7.

Kamara, again, bruises up the middle. This time it's for a gain of 4.

Timeout #1 New Orleans (3:57 1st)

Danny Shelton wraps up Taysom Hill for no gain, bringing up third-and-goal from the 3. 

Murray punches it in from 3 yards out.

Lions 14, Saints 7 (3:08 1st)

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford prepares to hand off during the first half against the Saints on Sunday.

Brees interception helps Lions double up lead

The Lions take over at the New Orleans 18 following Drew Brees' early interception.

Adrian Peterson rushes for 2 yards on first down. Matthew Stafford escapes the pocket, scrambles, and eventually slides down for a gain of 1. 

Stafford hits Kenny Golladay for a 15-yard passing touchdown that'll put the Lions up by two scores, less than five minutes into the game.

Lions 14, Saints 0 (10:23 1st)

Brees throws interception on first pass of game

Miles Killebrew stops Deonte Harris at the Saints 19 on the kickoff.

Drew Brees' first throw of the game is tipped at the line of scrimmage, and is intercepted by Darryl Roberts at the New Orleans 18.

Lions 7, Saints 0 (11:43 1st)

Swift touchdown reception gives Lions 7-0 lead against Saints

The Saints will kickoff to Detroit to start the game. Jamal Agnew is back deep for Detroit. Agnew returns the kick to the 23, where Detroit will take over.

The Lions run a nice play-action pass on first down that leaves Kenny Golladay over the middle, but the throw is a touch too high and Golladay can't hang on. Adrian Peterson isn't ready for a swing pass on second down, another drop. It's third-and-10.

Matthew Stafford steps up in the pocket on third down, takes off, and gets to the Detroit 35 for a pickup of 12 yards that'll keep the opening drive alive.

Adrian Peterson gets the handoff on the next play, a gain of 1. Stafford's second-down throw is incomplete. Stafford finds a wide-open Danny Amendola on third down, and Amendola gets all the way to the New Orleans 14, a 50-yard gain. It's first-and-10 inside the red zone.

Peterson rushes for 7 yards on first down. Stafford hits D'Andre Swift over the middle for a 7-yard touchdown pass to put the Lions up early.

Lions 7, Saints 0 (11:58 1st)

The Lions' Kenny Golladay pulls in a reception during warmups Sunday at Ford Field.


The Detroit Lions will get a chance to pull even heading into the bye week — after Sunday's game appeared in jeopardy of being played at all.

The Lions play host to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at Ford Field. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. (Fox/760 AM)

A victory would erase the Lions' 0-2 start to the season, pushing them to 2-2 entering their bye week. It also would cap a whirlwind 24 hours, as a reported positive COVID-19 test from Saints fullback Michael Burton, a former Lion. That test reportedly proved to be a false positive, keeping the game on schedule.

Like the Lions, the Saints bring a 1-2 record into Sunday's showdown, and are banged up, missing at least six starters, including All-Pro receiver Michael Thomas.

Follow along here for live updates.