Detroit, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - Matthew Stafford had three touchdown passes, and Joique Bell scored twice as the Detroit Lions pounded the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 34-17, at Ford Field on Sunday.
Stafford went 26-for-34 for 311 yards with touchdown passes to Bell, Calvin Johnson and Joseph Fauria for the Lions (9-4), who have won two straight after consecutive road losses.
"I feel good, I feel confident in what we are doing," said Stafford. "The guys on offense are feeling pretty confident in what we've been doing here lately, and the guys up front are keeping me clean most of the time."
Johnson finished the game with eight catches for 158 yards, while Bell had 18 carries for 83 yards and a rushing touchdown while adding five catches for 50 yards for Detroit.
"Our guys certainly played a good team game today," said Detroit head coach Jim Caldwell. "It certainly wasn't perfect, they never are. Our offense was controlled and we ran the ball better than pretty much any game this year."
The Lions are still in the hunt for the top spot in the NFC North, as the team sits a half-game back of the Packers for first place. Green Bay hosts Atlanta on Monday night.
Josh McCown was under pressure all day as he was sacked six times and took several hard hits. He completed 20-for-39 passes for 250 yards with two touchdown passes, but he was picked off twice and also lost a fumble.
"They played really hard and got after us pretty good," said McCown. "We were able to get a few things going at times, but it wasn't enough today."
Vincent Jackson caught 10 passes for 159 yards, and Mike Evans caught both touchdown passes for the Buccaneers (2-11), who have lost their last three games.
"We were beaten by a better football team today," said Tampa Bay head coach Lovie Smith. "They were able to run the ball and we weren't. All three phases, they were way better than us."
Detroit turned the ball over on downs at Tampa Bay 24-yard line on the opening possession of the game.
The Buccaneers, though, went three-and-out and the Lions got the ball back at their own 30. Johnson caught a 21-yard pass on 3rd-and-10, while Eric Ebron made a 12-yard grab on 3rd-and-10. Catches of 15 yards by Johnson, and 13- yards from Golden Tate got the ball to the Tampa 6, and Stafford threw a right corner fade that Johnson came down with for a 7-0 lead with 2:57 to play in the first.
Tampa Bay came back with a successful drive to get on the board, as Patrick Murray booted a 54-yard field goal down the middle to make it a 7-3 game with 13:32 to play in the half.
The Lions then went three-and-out, but the defense came up with a big play as Glover Quin picked off a tipped pass to give his team the ball back at the Tampa 34.
Facing a 3rd-and-goal at the Tampa 1, Bell bulled his way up the middle to give his team a 14-3 lead with 6:01 to play in the half.
Another turnover from Tampa, this one a fumble from McCown that Detroit recovered at the Tampa 32, led to a 46-yard field goal from Matt Prater that gave the Lions a 17-3 lead with 3:01 to play in the second.
Tampa quickly got into scoring position out of the two-minute warning as McCown went deep and Jackson came up with a 50-yard grab to the Detroit 8.
The Lions nearly escaped without giving up any points, as James Ihedigbo picked off McCown in the end zone. However, he decided to bring the ball out and wound up getting it stripped, with Tampa getting the ball back at the Detroit 10.
Four plays later, McCown found Evans in the left side of the end zone for a 5- yard score to make it a 17-10 game at the break.
Detroit forced a Tampa punt on the opening possession of the second half, and a 53-yard catch from Johnson set up a 23-yard boot by Prater for a 10-point lead early in the third.
Tampa's next two touches ended with punts, and the Lions started a drive at their own 12 that saw Bell gain 27 yards on the first snap. Getting the ball across midfield, Stafford then connected with Johnson for 18 yards to get into the red zone, and Fauria caught a 10-yard score for a 27-10 lead with just 15 seconds left in the third.
The Buccaneers came back with their best drive of the game. A 24-yard pass interference call on Detroit got the ball across midfield, and McCown went into the left corner of the end zone for Evans, who used his bicep and helmet to come down with a 26-yard score to make it a 27-17 contest with 12:52 left.
Tampa got across midfield on its next possession, but ultimately had to punt, pinning Detroit at its own 8.
Bell took the first snap around the right tackle for 57 yards down to the Tampa 35. A 15-yard catch from Johnson got the ball to the 5, and the next snap saw a Stafford pass batted into the air. Bell, though, came down with the ball and ran his way in for a 34-17 lead with 5:01 to play.
The Bucs punted on their next drive, and failed on fourth down on their next possession as the Lions held on for the victory.
The Lions controlled the ball for 36:35 and totaled 407 yards of offense. Tampa managed just 233 yards, including a meager 26 yards on 14 rushing plays ... Detroit hosts Minnesota next Sunday ... Tampa plays in Carolina next Sunday ... Detroit has won three of the last four meetings with Tampa Bay, and leads the series, 30-27 ... It was the 43rd 100-yard game of Johnson's career.