Stafford sparks Lions to 31-17 win over Browns

By TOM WITHERS - AP Sports Writer
    2013-10-14 02:50

CLEVELAND (AP) - Matthew Stafford's four touchdown passes were impressive. None, though, may have meant as much as the ball he fired into the ground.

With star receiver Calvin Johnson slowed by a knee injury, Stafford spread his passes around and threw three of his TDs in the second half to rally the Detroit Lions to a 31-17 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Down 17-7 at halftime, the Lions (4-2) outscored the Browns 24-0 after halftime to pull out a win that seemed unlikely after the first 30 minutes.

On Detroit's first possession of the third quarter, Stafford scrambled from trouble on a 3rd-and-6 play and picked up seven yards. He popped to his feet after picking up the first down and spiked the ball at his feet, drawing a 5-yard penalty for delay of game.

While out of character, Stafford's outburst ignited the Lions.

``I knew it was going to take something to spark people,'' Stafford said. ``That wasn't false. I was happy to be getting that first down and to be down on the ground safe after a run. I just wanted to get the guys going. It was time to go.''

And off the Lions went.

Stafford connected on three touchdown passes with rookie tight end Joseph Fauria, who celebrated each of the scores with familiar flair. On two of the TDS, the 6-foot-7 Fauria broke out some of his awkward, if not comical, dance moves and on the other he dunked the ball over the goal post.

Fauria has seven catches this season, five for TDs. Not bad for an undrafted free agent from UCLA.

``He's tall as heck,'' Lions coach Jim Schwartz said describing Fauria. ``But there are a lot of tall guys that aren't good players.''

No one for Detroit stood as tall as Stafford, who completed 25 of 43 passes for 248 yards. In the second half, he went 15 of 21 for 165 yards and made sure he got the ball to Reggie Bush, who finished with 135 total yards.

``Matthew is a tremendous quarterback, football player, guy and teammate,'' Fauria said. ``It's an honor to play with him, help him out and develop that trust.''

For the Browns (3-3), the loss stopped a three-game winning streak and raised more questions about their quarterback situation.

Brandon Weeden, back in the starting lineup with Brian Hoyer out for the rest of the year with a torn knee ligament, threw two TD passes. But his ill-advised, backhanded flip in the fourth quarter that was intercepted by Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy ended any chance of a Cleveland comeback.

``Just a bone-headed play,'' Weeden said.

Here are five more things we learned from the Lions' turnaround victory.

CALVIN HOBBLED: Johnson returned after missing last week's game with a right knee injury but was less than 100 percent.

The man they call ``Megatron'' had three catches for 25 yards but was slower than normal coming off the line and didn't cut with his usual precision and power. Still, his presence put the Browns' defense on edge and enabled Detroit's other receivers to get open.

``He helped tremendously,'' Fauria said. ``One of the greatest of all time, being lined up next to him is a trip. Having him on top opens things up for guys like me.''

SHUTDOWN: The Browns had a season-high 115 yards rushing - at halftime.

Cleveland's offensive line pushed Detroit's ferocious front foursome all over the field in the first half. But it was a different story after halftime as the Browns gained just 11 yards on the ground. It didn't help that Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner abandoned the running game, placing more pressure on Weeden.

BUSH PUSH: Almost non-existent in the first half, Bush was a matchup nightmare in the second half for the Browns.

The versatile back picked up 121 total yards in the third and fourth quarters, and it was his 39-yard run in the third - on the play after Stafford's scramble and spike - that really got the Lions going.

JACKED RABBIT: In his first game after setting Cleveland's team record for punt return yardage, Travis Benjamin got bottled up by the Lions.

Nicknamed ``Rabbit,'' Benjamin was held to minus-10 yards on three punt returns. In Cleveland's Oct. 3 win over Buffalo, Benjamin had a 79-yard TD return and 179 yards, but the Lions did an exquisite job of taking him out of the game.

NO EVIDENCE: The Lions appeared to catch a break when Weeden's long pass - on 2nd-and-25 - to wide receiver Greg Little down the sideline in the fourth quarter was ruled out of bounds. Browns coach Rob Chudzinski challenged the call, but it was upheld and Cleveland lost a timeout.

``I had a pretty good view of it. I thought he got his second foot down,'' Chudzinski said. ``Obviously, that's why I challenged it, but he didn't. We didn't win the challenge and they didn't reverse it.''


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Steve SmithOct 7 03:43p

Baltimore Ravens WR Steve Smith (back) is week-to-week with microfractures in his back, but he hasn't been ruled out for Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns yet, according to [ More ]

Davante AdamsOct 7 03:33p

Green Bay Packers WR Davante Adams (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 7.

Ronnie HillmanOct 7 02:03p

Denver Broncos RB C.J. Anderson is still considered the starting running back by head coach Gary Kubiak, but RB Ronnie Hillman has 'earned the right' to see more chances. [ More ]

Sammy WatkinsOct 7 01:33p

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins (calf) is not being ruled out for Week 5 against the Tennessee Titans despite missing practice Wednesday, Oct. 7, according to head coach Rex Ryan.

Julius ThomasOct 7 01:12p

Updating an earlier report, Jacksonville Jaguars TE Julius Thomas (hand) has not been cleared to play in Week 5, but he has been cleared to begin catching passes Wednesday, Oct. 7.

Dan CarpenterOct 7 01:03p

Buffalo Bills PK Dan Carpenter (knee) had a left knee injury last week, but head coach Rex Ryan said Carpenter is fine. PK Billy Cundiff was signed, and Ryan [ More ]

LeSean McCoyOct 7 12:53p

Buffalo Bills RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring) is out of practice Wednesday, Oct. 7.

Lance DunbarOct 7 12:33p

Dallas Cowboys RB Lance Dunbar (knee) is scheduled for surgery Friday, Oct. 9, and his season is over.

Anthony DixonOct 7 11:23a

Buffalo Bills RB Anthony Dixon will likely be the main running back against the Tennessee Titans in Week 5, according to head coach Rex Ryan

Karlos WilliamsOct 7 11:13a

Buffalo Bills RB Karlos Williams (concussion) is out of practice Wednesday, Oct. 7.

Josh JohnsonOct 7 11:13a

Free-agent QB Josh Johnson (Colts) re-signed with the Indianapolis Colts Wednesday, Oct. 7. He'll serve as insurance if QB Andrew Luck (shoulder) isn't ready for Week 5.

Eric EbronOct 7 10:03a

Updating previous reports, Detroit Lions TE Eric Ebron (knee) said part of his knee ailment is a bruised knee that can take up to three weeks to heal, depending on the individual.

Denarius MooreOct 7 09:53a

Free-agent WR Denarius Moore (Bengals) and PK Billy Cundiff (Ravens) signed with the Buffalo Bills Wednesday, Oct. 7. PK Jordan Gay and WR Marcus Thigpen were cut.

Billy CundiffOct 7 09:53a

Free-agent WR Denarius Moore (Bengals) and PK Billy Cundiff (Ravens) signed with the Buffalo Bills Wednesday, Oct. 7. PK Jordan Gay and WR Marcus Thigpen were cut.

Andre EllingtonOct 6 10:23p

Updating a previous report, Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington (knee) is expected to play in the Week 5 game against the Detroit Lions, head coach Bruce Arians said in [ More ]

Brandon PettigrewOct 6 08:13p

Detroit Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew (hamstring) will return to practice this week and could play in Week 5 if he doesn't have any setbacks.

Arian FosterOct 6 07:52p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) was limited in practice Tuesday, Oct. 6.

Andrew LuckOct 6 06:02p

Updating a previous report, Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck (shoulder) took the majority of snaps in practice Tuesday, Oct. 6, giving the indication that he will play in Week [ More ]

Andrew LuckOct 6 05:02p

Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck (shoulder) said he's better, improved and making gains. He did admit that he's not where he wants to be, however.

Gerald HodgesOct 6 04:22p

Minnesota Vikings LB Gerald Hodges was acquired by the San Francisco 49ers Tuesday, Oct. 6. The 49ers sent C Nick Easton and a sixth-round pick to the Vikings.

Latavius MurrayOct 6 03:32p

Oakland Raiders RB Latavius Murray still has the confidence of head coach Jack Del Rio, despite a rough outing in Week 4 against the Chicago Bears. Murray accounted for [ More ]

Andrew LuckOct 6 03:22p

Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck (shoulder) does not have a partial shoulder subluxation, as had been reported previously, according to a source. Head coach Chuck Pagano said he heard [ More ]

Sammy WatkinsOct 6 02:13p

Buffalo Bills general manager Doug Whaley said WR Sammy Watkins (calf) will play in Week 5 against the Tennessee Titans 'fingers crossed.'

Dan HerronOct 6 02:13p

Free-agent RB Dan Herron (Colts) was signed by the Buffalo Bills Tuesday, Oct. 6. TE MarQueis Gray (forearm) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list.

Daniel FellsOct 6 01:52p

New York Giants TE Daniel Fells (ankle) had surgery this week on his ankle and was diagnosed with MRSA, which is a very serious condition.

Roddy WhiteOct 6 01:42p

Atlanta Falcons WR Roddy White could be open to a trade due to a declining role with the Falcons.

Devin HesterOct 6 01:32p

Atlanta Falcons WR Devin Hester (toe) was placed on the short-term Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Oct. 6.

Fred JacksonOct 6 01:22p

Seattle Seahawks RB Fred Jackson (ankle) is dealing with a high ankle sprain, according to head coach Pete Carroll.

Eric EbronOct 6 12:32p

Updating an earlier report, Detroit Lions TE Eric Ebron (knee) had an MRI reveal no structural damage in his left knee. His status is to be determined for Week 5.

Markus WheatonOct 6 12:22p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Markus Wheaton (ankle) looks dramatically improved from his ankle injury and has a good chance to play in Week 5 against the San Diego Chargers.

Eric EbronOct 6 11:52a

Detroit Lions TE Eric Ebron (knee) had X-rays on his left knee, which were negative. He'll have an MRI as well.

Connor BarthOct 6 10:43a

Free-agent PK Connor Barth (Buccaneers) has re-signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tuesday, Oct. 6, as he beat out other kickers to replace PK Kyle Brindza. Brindza was released.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
Player Notes:
Forum Posts:

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group