Nashville, TN (Sports Network) - Rob Bironas kicked a field goal in overtimeto give Tennessee the lead and the Titans stopped Detroit on fourth down fora 44-41 win over the Lions in a game that saw just about everything.
After watching a 14-point lead evaporate in the final minute of play,including a Hail Mary on the final play of regulation that tied the game forthe Lions, the Titans started overtime with the ball and were able to get a26-yard field goal from Bironas with 10:36 left.
The drive was helped by several penalties on Detroit, including a defensiveholding on a third down and a personal foul for a helmet-to-helmet hit on apass that was ruled incomplete.
The Lions, led by Shaun Hill as Matthew Stafford left late in the game with apulled muscle in his right leg, came back down the field and a 26-yard catchby Calvin Johnson got the ball into Tennessee territory.
Facing a 4th-and-inches at the Tennessee 7, Detroit opted to go for it. Hillquickly snapped the ball and pushed forward, but he didn't get far enough andthe Titans got the win.
"The sneak was just miscommunication," said Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz."We wanted to draw them off-sides, but the crowd was loud. It was my fault, Ishould have called a timeout there."
Jake Locker finished with a career-high 378 yards on 29-of-42 passing with twotouchdowns and the Titans (1-2) got a touchdown on a punt return, kickoffreturn, and fumble recovery to win after losing their first two games of theseason by a combined 49 points.
Stafford left the game on while trying to chase down Alterraun Verner during a72-yard fumble return off a strip of Brandon Pettigrew. Stafford finished thegame 33-for-42 with 278 yards and a score, while Hill was 10-for-13 with twoscores and 172 yards in his limited time.
Johnson had just one catch for six yards in the first half, but finished thegame with 10 grabs for 164 yards and a score, while Mikel Leshoure totaled 100yards and a score on 26 carries and had four catches for 34 yards in his NFLdebut for the Lions (1-2), who have dropped two straight after winning theirseason-opener against St. Louis.
"I've been around a lot of crazy games, but I don't know if I've ever been inone like this," said Schwartz. "We were lucky to even be in the game at theend."
The Titans appeared to have this game wrapped up after Verner's score made it41-27 with 1:16 to play, but the Lions came roaring back.
Hill needed just seven plays and less than one minute to find the end zone ashe hit Johnson in the back from three yards out to make it a one-score gamewith 18 seconds to play.
The onsides kick was then sent down the right sideline and it bounced throughthe front line of the Titans before Amari Spievey came up with the ball at theTennessee 46.
After the first pass fell incomplete, Hill had one chance left and he heavedit into the end zone. Luckily for the Lions, Titans defender Akeem Ayersbatted the ball right into the hands of Titus Young and the game went toovertime.
"I can't even explain how happy I am right now," said Ayers. "Just getting thewin, we definitely need it and there is no question we can play with any team,any week."
Tennessee started the second half with the ball and an 11-point lead. The teamtried to add to it as Bironas lined up for a 41-yard field goal, but he missedit to the left and the Lions took over at their own 31.
Johnson had catches of 28, 18, and nine yards to help set up Leshoure's firstcareer touchdown, a 1-yard run through the middle to make it a 20-16 game with6:36 to play in the third.
Bironas had made 20 straight field prior to the miss, but he missed for asecond straight time on Tennessee's next touch as his 48-yard attempt wentwide to the left and Detroit again had good field position.
The Lions got down to the Tennessee eight, but a holding call pushed them back10 yards and the team wound up settling for a 26-yard field goal from JasonHanson to make it a one-point game with 12:39 to play in the fourth quarter.
Detroit quickly got a turnover as Kendall Wright was stripped of the ballafter a catch and the Lions had it back near midfield. The ninth play of thedrive saw Stafford whip a quick pass into the back of the end zone where NateBurleson caught the ball for a 3-yard score. Burleson then caught the two-point conversion and it was a 27-20 game with 6:53 to play.
Darius Reynaud, though, took the kickoff up the middle, shifted to the rightsideline and, helped by a nice block, raced into the end zone on a 105-yardscore to tie the game.
After forcing a punt from Detroit, the Titans got the ball back at their own34. After an illegal motion call, Locker lofted a pass down the left side forNate Washington, who put his hands behind the defender's back and pulled itover before racing into the end zone on a 71-yard score and a 34-27 lead withjust over three minutes to play.
Verner's score with 1:16 left appeared to seal the win, but there was stillplenty of football to be played.
Detroit started the game with the ball and got a 47-yard field goal fromHanson for a 3-0 lead 3 1/2 minutes in.
Locker fumbled a snap on a shotgun play on Tennessee's following touch, andthe Lions recovered near midfield. The defense held, though, and the Lionsagain turned to Hanson, who booted a 53-yarder for a 6-0 lead with 6:36 leftin the first quarter.
The Titans answered with a nine-play drive that covered 66 yards and the footof Bironas got the team on the board with a 31-yard field goal for a 6-3 gamewith 2:02 to play in the first.
Detroit was held to a three-and-out on its next touch, with a reversal of aJohnson catch on an instant replay leading to a punt.
Reynaud fielded the punt towards the left sideline and immediately tossed itover to the right side for Tommie Campbell, who ran untouched into the endzone on a 65-yard score, his first career touchdown, to give the Titans a 10-6lead with 33 seconds left in the first quarter.
"Before Wednesday, I had never even practiced that play before," saidCampbell. "The crazy part is that (Reynaud) threw the ball perfect all weekand didn't have one bad throw."
Tennessee's defense continued to stymie the Lions, forcing another three-and-out and getting the ball back at its own 41. Two plays later, Locker hit JaredCook near the Detroit 30 and he ran it in for a 61-yard score and a 17-6 leadwith 13 minutes left in the first half.
The Lions got themselves back on track on their next touch and made it intothe Tennessee red zone, but the drive stalled at the 15 and a 33-yard fieldgoal from Hanson made it a 17-9 game with 6:30 left in the half.
With 2:17 to play, the Titans got the ball back at their own 10 and Locker gotthe ball across midfield himself on a 31-yard run. Bironas got a 38-yard kickthrough the uprights on the final play to give the Titans a 20-9 lead at thebreak.
Leshoure had suffered an Achilles injury in 2011 after getting drafted in thesecond round and was suspended for the first two games of this season ... Cooksat out the second half and overtime with a shoulder injury. He had fourcatches for 77 yards along with the score ... The teams totaled 1,020 yards ofoffense, 583 from the Lions ... Tennessee has won the past four games againstDetroit.