Head coach Jim Caldwell and Detroit Lions players tried to warn anyone who would listen this week that the winless Browns were a better football team than their 0-8 record might indicate.
The Browns hung tight with the Lions right into the fourth quarter, but a 29-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford to Eric Ebron early in the fourth quarter gave the Lions the lead, and a 40-yard touchdown strike from Stafford to Golden Tate late in the quarter sealed Detroit's 38-24 win.
Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer was playing well and moving the ball on Detroit's defense all game until he suffered a rib injury late in the third quarter that forced him from the game for a couple series. That was when the game swung Detroit's way. Browns backup Cody Kessler came into the game, and the Browns went two consecutive series three and out.
During that same stretch came the touchdowns to Ebron and Tate, which proved to be the difference in the game.
Kizer returned late in the fourth quarter and marched the Browns down the field to the Detroit 4-yard line, but a Darius Slay interception in the end zone sealed the win for the Lions.
Ameer Abdullah (8-yard run), Nevin Lawson (40-yard fumble return) and Theo Riddick (8-yard reception) scored the other three Lions touchdowns.
QB Comparison: Stafford was just 6-of-11 passing for 57 yards with no touchdowns and an interception in the first half, but the second half was a whole different story for Stafford and the Lions' offense.
He tossed three second-half touchdowns and finished 17-of-26 passing for 249 yards with three touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 118.9.
Kizer was 21-of-37 passing for 232 yards with a touchdown and an interception for a passer rating of 73.3 yards. He also made a lot of plays with his legs, rushing seven times for 57 yards and a touchdown.
Kessler completed one of his three pass attempts for five yards and was sacked twice. He finished with a passer rating of 42.4.
Return touchdowns: Nevin Lawson's 40-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown in the second quarter was the Lions' fourth return touchdown on defense (three interceptions, one fumble) and their sixth overall (two punt returns).
It's the most return touchdowns for the Lions through the first nine games of the season since 1971.
Offensive resurgence: The Browns came into the game ranked 27th in total offense (301.3 yards per game) and 23rd rushing (95.1). Cleveland gained 413 yards of total offense against the Lions, 201 of those coming on the ground.
Key stat: After some recent troubles scoring in the red zone, the Lions were a perfect 2-for-2 scoring in the red zone Sunday.