NEW ORLEANS – Not many people would have blamed Lions fans for leaving the Mercedes-Benz Superdome or turning off their television sets back in Detroit early in the third quarter when the Lions trailed 45-10.
But if any of those Lions fans left or turned off the tube, they missed one heck of an almost comeback.
The Lions scored 28 unanswered points at one stretch in the second half to come all the way back to within 45-38 midway through the fourth quarter.
The Lions had a chance to drive 99 yards for an opportunity to tie the game, but Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford had a pass tipped up and intercepted by Cameron Jordan that pushed the Saints' lead to 52-38, which ended up being the final score.
Stafford threw touchdown passes to Marvin Jones Jr. and Darren Fells in the third quarter to begin to chip into the Saints' lead. A 74-yard punt return touchdown by Jamal Agnew had to make Saints fans feel a little uncomfortable. When A'Shawn Robinson intercepted Drew Brees on the following Saints possession and returned it for a touchdown, the New Orleans faithful were downright nervous.
But Jordan and the Saints' defense saved the day for New Orleans with the pick and score, and subsequent defensive stops.
The loss drops the Lions to 3-3 on the year as they head to their bye week. All three losses this season have come at the hands of NFC South teams – Atlanta, Carolina and New Orleans.
Turnover battle: The Saints entered the game tied for the NFL record by starting their first four games without a turnover.
They'll have to settle for the tie after committing three turnovers Sunday. The Lions intercepted Drew Brees twice, and also forced a fumble. Detroit turned the takeaways into two touchdowns.
Unfortunately for Detroit, they turned the ball over five times themselves, leading to four Saints touchdowns.
QB Comparison: The big deficit forced Stafford and Co. into throwing mode in the second half. Stafford finished 25-of-52 passing with 312 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. He finished with a passer rating of 62.3.
Stafford had 12 passes deflected at the line of scrimmage, two of which resulted in interceptions. He threw touchdown passes to Golden Tate (45 yards), Marvin Jones Jr. (22) and Darren Fells (22).
Brees completed 21 of his 31 passes for 186 yards with a couple scores and two interceptions. His passer rating was 77.9. He threw touchdown passes to Ted Ginn Jr. (20) and Michael Hoomanawanui (2).
Poor run defense: The Lions entered Sunday's game ranked third in the NFL in rushing defense, allowing just 74.6 yards per game. The Saints doubled that mark and then some.
When it was all said and done, New Orleans accounted for 193 yards on the ground and two rushing touchdowns.
Impressive rookie: Fifth-round pick Jamal Agnew continues to impress as a punt-return man.
His fourth-quarter 74-yard punt return touchdown made him just the fifth player in team history with two-plus punt-return touchdowns in a season. He's the first rookie to do so since 1951.
Injury report: The bye week couldn't have come at a better time for the Lions on the injury front.
The Lions lost a number of players to injury Sunday, including some of their key performers.
Starting free safety Glover Quin, the heart and soul of the Lions' defense, suffered a head injury in the second quarter attempting to make a tackle. He was down on the field for several minutes. When he was helped to his feet by trainers, they took him right into the locker room. He didn't return.
Lions receiver Golden Tate suffered a shoulder injury in the second quarter and also didn't return.
Left tackle Greg Robinson left the game in the third quarter with an ankle injury. He walked to the sideline following the injury, but was seen a short time later being carted to the locker room.