PHILADELPHIA – Even after the offense committed three more turnovers, the defense generated zero sacks again and the whole team was sloppy and undisciplined for 55 minutes, the Philadelphia Eagles had a 10-point lead and victory within their grasp.
That's when Matthews Stafford and the Detroit Lions took control.
Stafford rallied desperate Detroit to 17 points in the fourth quarter, Jason Hanson kicked a 45-yard field goal in overtime and the Lions beat the Eagles 26-23 on Sunday.
"Sick and disappointing, that's how I feel," Eagles All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy said.
His sentiment was shared throughout the locker room.
"They wanted it more," cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said. "We blew it."
A defense that held Stafford and Calvin Johnson in check for 3½ quarters collapsed at the end for the second straight week, and the Eagles (3-3) enter the bye with consecutive late losses. Ben Roethlisberger led Pittsburgh on a long drive that ended with a final-second field goal for a 16-14 win last Sunday.
"This is pretty bad because this was a big game for us," cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said. "We lost last week and going into a bye this hurts a lot because it would have helped us. If we can't win a game like that, we have to go back to the drawing board."
Stafford finished with 311 yards passing, one TD passing and one rushing and one interception.
The comeback kept the Lions (2-3) from a 1-4 start a year after opening 5-0 en route to their first playoff appearance since 1999.
"It takes lot of heart," Stafford said. "It would have been a lot easier to just pack it in. This team has lot of fight. We didn't play great. We did on defense, not on offense. Every guy in that locker room didn't stop playing and that's what got us the win."
Michael Vick threw for 311 yards and two TDs, but he also had two interceptions and a botched snap led to another lost fumble. The Eagles now have 17 turnovers in six games, including 13 by Vick on eight picks and five fumbles.
"This is going to hurt for a long time," Vick said. "We put ourselves in position to win and didn't finish."
Down 23-13 after Vick's 70-yard TD pass to Jeremy Maclin with 5:18 left, the Lions answered.
Detroit had two shots from the Eagles 1 following a pass interference penalty on Colt Anderson with 13 seconds left in regulation. But Stafford misfired on both passes and Hanson kicked a 19-yard field goal to send it to overtime.
"I don't know what to tell you other than we have to do better," coach Andy Reid said. "We've got to learn how to win football games. You have a 10-point lead with 10 minutes left, you have to learn how to finish."
The Lions sacked Vick on the first two plays of the extra quarter, forced a punt out of the end zone and started at midfield.
Stafford hit Johnson for a 17-yard gain to the Eagles 27 on first-and-20. A few plays later, Hanson nailed the winner.
"I was nervous," Hanson said. "We needed it bad. We needed it to get our season on track."
Johnson had 135 yards receiving, but the All-Pro wide receiver still has no TD catches from Stafford this season. He was called for offensive pass interference to negate his 11-yard TD grab in the fourth quarter.
The Lions overcame 16 penalties, most in the NFL this season.
After Detroit closed within 16-13 in the fourth, the Eagles got their biggest play of the season when Vick connected with Maclin on a deep slant. It was Philadelphia's first play for more than 49 yards all season.
No problem for the Lions. Stafford had found his groove.
Stafford threw a 57-yard pass to Tony Scheffler to get deep in Eagles territory and then tossed a 17-yard pass to Nate Burleson to cut it to 23-20 with 3:32 left.
The Eagles went three-and-out and Stafford drove the Lions downfield to tie.
Vick shook off a poor start and the offense finally got going late in the second quarter. He hit McCoy on a 2-yard pass to put Philadelphia up 7-6.
Alex Henery kicked a 32-yarder to make it 13-6 after Brent Celek was called for offensive pass interference to negate his 3-yard TD catch.
That penalty turned out to be the difference.
Henery's 49-yarder early in the fourth extended the margin to 16-6 for Philadelphia's biggest lead of the season.
But the Lions got right back in it when Stafford led an 80-play drive, finishing it with a 1-yard run to make it 16-13. Johnson, held to just one previous catch, caught passes of 37 and 20 yards on the drive.
On Philadelphia's next play, Chris Houston intercepted Vick's deep pass to DeSean Jackson at the Lions 34. But the Eagles held on defense, setting up Vick-to-Maclin.
NOTES: Eagles rookie Fletcher Cox was ejected in the fourth quarter after getting an unnecessary roughness penalty for punching a player on Detroit's extra point. ... Lions CB Jacob Lacey left with a concussion. ... Johnson's only TD catch this season came on a pass from Shaun Hill. ... Lions FS Louis Delmas was active and starting for the first time this season after having knee surgery in August.
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