Wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. appeared to be a game-time decision for the Lions Sunday in New Orleans with a thigh injury that limited him in practice all week. He worked out on the field before the game, but was ultimately one of the Lions' seven inactives.
That meant Andre Roberts and TJ Jones would have to fill the void. TJ Jones was signed to the active roster from the practice squad on Saturday,
Roberts caught four passes for 35 yards, and TJ Jones caught three for another 49 yards. TJ Jones had a key reception on a 3rd and 16 for 36 yards in the third quarter that set up a Matt Prater field goal in the Lions' 28-13 win.
"TJ (Jones) did a nice job," head coach Jim Caldwell said. "After the one that kind of went off his hands early on, he came back and made some real nice catches for us and some big, big time plays.
"And then Andre (Roberts) was really good and solid all day long. Caught the ball, ran with it, caught some slants that were real nicely done and you know, both guys filled in admirably and accorded themselves very well."
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was 30-of-42 passing for 341 yards with two scores. Seven different receivers caught a pass, with Roberts and TJ Jones stepping up and playing their parts.
Golden Tate led the Lions with 8 catches for 145 yards and a touchdown. It was the 10th 100-yard performance of his career.
Running back Dwayne Washington was having himself a pretty nice game Sunday before he was forced to leave early in the third quarter with an ankle injury. He didn't return.
Washington converted a couple first downs early in the game on 19 receiving yards, and also added 21 yards on the ground off seven carries.
Nickel cornerback Quandre Diggs was injured making a tackle midway through the third quarter. He also never returned to the game.
Safety Glover Quin studies longer and harder than most defenders in this league during the course of the week. It's part of what makes him so good.
Quin encouraged his fellow Lions defenders to take a little extra time in their prep this week, too. The result was holding Drew Brees and the explosive Saints offense to 13 total points with three turnovers.
Quin recorded one of those turnovers, a drive-killing interception for the Saints in the third quarter as they were trying to mount a comeback from a 16-6 deficit at the time.
Quin leaped up and picked off a pass intended for Brandin Cooks at the Lions 46-yard line, managing to do a little toe tap on the sideline to keep his feet inbounds.
"I played at free safety a lot and so, I have to spend a lot of time during the week watching the quarterback and watching his body language and his eyes and how he tries to do things," Quin said after the game.
"Just so happened on that play I wasn't the deep safety, I was one of the drop guys and I was just kind of watching him and he just kept looking and looking and I just followed his eyes and he threw it and I caught it.
"Y'all didn't see the toe-tap though, did y'all? Y'all see the toe tap on the sideline? Every day we work on the toe-tap. If you all come to our practice, watch our individuals, we always work the toe-tap and I love when I get a chance to get a toe-tap in the game, especially against Drew Brees."
The Lions turned the interception into a Matt Prater field goal to increase their lead to 19-6.
Quin continues to an invaluable player for the Lions both on the field and in the meeting room.
The Lions didn't trail in the fourth quarter for the first time this season, and beat New Orleans pretty comfortably Sunday. But it really could have been a much worse beating if the Lions had been anywhere close to their season numbers in the red zone.
On the year, the Lions had a red-zone efficiency percentage of over 60 percent, 11th best in the NFL. On Sunday, they were just 1-of-5 scoring touchdowns in the red zone.
"We kind of kept them around with how inefficient we were in the red zone," Stafford said. "It's something we're going to have to look at and do better at and get the ball in the end zone.
"We have to find a way to punch some of those drives in. We were efficient when we had the ball, but we have to get seven's (touchdowns), especially against a team like that on our defense."
Prater converted a field goal every time the Lions stalled deep in Saints' territory, but this is a game they can look back on and learn from in terms of play selection and audibles deep in opponent territory.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Lions rookie safety Miles Killebrew after recording his first career interception to end the game:
"Oh man, look it's right here (the football)," he said. " I didn't even put it down to take my pads off. I'm definitely going to go take it home for sure."