Stafford throws 4 TDs to lead Lions past Browns
Cleveland, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Matthew Stafford had four touchdown passes, three of them to Joseph Fauria, as the Detroit Lions used a dominating second half for a 31-17 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Stafford was 25-for-43 for 248 yards with an interception, while Fauria's three catches all went for scores and totaled 34 yards for the Lions (4-2), who bounced back from last week's loss to Green Bay to remain tied with Chicago for first place in the NFC North.
Reggie Bush had 17 carries for 78 yards along with five catches for 57 yards and a score. Calvin Johnson, who sat out last week with a knee injury and was a game-time decision on Sunday, had just three catches for 25 yards in the win.
"There were some things we just didn't do well today in that first half," said Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz. "The players knew it and knew that we just needed to make a stop and get a score to start the first half and we were right back into it."
Brandon Weeden was 26-for-43 for 292 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for the Browns (3-3), who had won three straight after dropping the first two games of the season. Josh Gordon caught seven passes for 126 yards.
"Obviously a disappointing loss today with how well I thought we played in the first half," said Cleveland head coach Rob Chudzinski. "We weren't able to close the game out in the second half and that's something we need to learn how to do as a team."
Trailing by 10 points, Detroit's first drive of the second half bore fruit as Stafford's short dump over the middle was caught by Bush and taken into the end zone on an 18-yard score and a 17-14 game. The drive was helped by a 39- yard run around the left end by Bush on a 1st-and-10 from the Detroit 27.
Holding Cleveland to a three-and-out, the Lions drove and got down to the Cleveland 28. Stafford then went for Pat Edwards in the end zone, but the ball was tipped into the hands of Tashaun Gipson, who brought the ball back to the Cleveland 30.
Detroit, though, held Cleveland and got the ball back at its own 33.
Methodically driving his team down the field, Stafford gave the Lions a 21-17 lead when he threw the ball into coverage over the middle for Fauria, who made the catch and fell into the end zone for a 23-yard score with 10:35 to play in the game.
Another three-and-out from the Browns saw the Lions get the ball back near midfield, and a 17-yard catch from Kris Durham helped to set up a 51-yard field goal from David Akers to give Detroit a 24-17 lead with 6:04 left.
Cleveland got across midfield on its next touch, but Weeden threw the ball away under pressure and DeAndre Levy came down with his second pick of the game.
Fauria's 10-yard touchdown catch with 2:01 to play sealed the victory for the Lions.
Each team punted on its first possession, but Detroit wound up with excellent field position on its second touch as the team started the drive at its own 42.
Facing a 3rd-and-1 at the Cleveland 23, Stafford went for Kevin Ogletree and the pass fell incomplete, but Joe Haden was whistled for interference at the 7. The next play saw Haden called for interference in the end zone, and two plays later Stafford floated a pass to the right corner where Fauria came down with the catch for a 7-0 lead with 3:27 to play in the first.
Getting the ball back late in the first quarter, Cleveland got a 45-yard run from Travis Benjamin on an end-around on the first play. Six plays later, Weeden tossed a pass out to the left side where a wide open Chris Ogbonnaya took it in from four yards out to tie the game with 12:52 left in the half.
Weeden was picked off by Levy on Cleveland's next possession, but Detroit was unable to take advantage and eventually gave the ball back.
Starting at their own 16, the Browns got a 23-yard pass interference call on the first snap and Gordon later caught a pass for 18 yards. On 2nd-and-goal at the Detroit 2, Weeden hit Greg Little for a score and a 14-7 lead with 1:16 left in the half.
Holding the Lions to a three-and-out, the Browns got the ball back and a 36- yard catch from Gordon set up a 40-yard field goal buy Billy Cundiff for a 17-7 game at the break.
Stafford set a franchise record with his 13th game of three or more touchdown passes, breaking Bobby Layne's previous mark of 12 ... Durham finished the game with eight catches for 83 yards ... Detroit controlled the ball for 33:29 and totaled 366 yards of offense, while Cleveland gained 395 yards ... Detroit has won three straight and six of the last seven games against Cleveland ... Detroit hosts Cincinnati next Sunday ... Cleveland plays at Green Bay next week.
10/13 18:49:53 ET