The Detroit Lions keep finding new and creative ways to win football games.
With their offense playing its worst game of the year coming off a bye week, the Lions got touchdowns on defense and special teams and two big plays from Matthew Stafford in the fourth quarter to beat the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars at Ford Field, 26-19.
Stafford hit Eric Ebron for a 61-yard gain on third-and-14 midway through the fourth quarter, and Ebron scored the go-ahead touchdown two plays later on a 1-yard run.
The Jaguars went three-and-out on their next possession, but had a chance to get the ball back with more than two minutes on the clock and two timeouts when Stafford hurried the Lions to the line of scrimmage on fourth-and-2 in an apparent effort to draw Jacksonville offsides.
As players scrambled around to get set and Stafford barked a fake call for the ball, Jaguars defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks made contact with an offensive lineman to give the Lions a first down.
The Lions picked up one more first down on a Stafford pass to Golden Tate and ran nearly 8 minutes off the clock before Matt Prater tacked on a 43-yard field goal with 22 seconds to play.
After totaling just 144 yards of offense and seven first downs in the first three quarters, the Lions finished with a respectable 278 yards of offense on the day to stay in first place in the NFC North.
The Lions (6-4) host the Minnesota Vikings on Thanksgiving this week. The Vikings, 5-4 entering Sunday, led the Arizona Cardinals late in the fourth quarter as the Lions game was ending.
Andre Roberts returned a punt 55 yards for the Lions’ first touchdown Sunday, his second return touchdown of the year.
Roberts briefly put his hand in the air before fielding the punt, and Jaguars coach Gus Bradley argued unsuccessfully that he called for a fair catch
Rafael Bush gave the Lions a 16-9 lead just after halftime when he returned a Blake Bortles interception 39 yards for a touchdown.
Bortles’ pass, on third-and-7 bounced off the hands of Marqise Lee.
The Lions forced three turnovers overall Sunday – Tavon Wilson intercepted Bortles’ final pass of the game and Antwione Williams recovered a fumble – and lost two fumbles themselves.
Roberts muffed a punt and Golden Tate had the ball stripped out of his hands on a third-quarter end-around, the Lions’ first two turnovers by a player other than Stafford this year.
Stafford completed 24 of 33 passes for 278 yards and no touchdowns, and Riddick had a game-high eight catches for 70 yards for the Lions.
Bortles was 22 of 35 for 202 yards for the Jaguars, who fell to 2-8 with the loss.