Resurgent Bucs top turnover-prone Lions
Detroit, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - The Tampa Bay defense had four interceptions and recovered a fumble as the Buccaneers took a 24-21 victory over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.
Leonard Johnson returned one interception for a touchdown, and Johnthan Banks sealed the victory with a pick with Detroit in field goal range late in the game.
The Buccaneers (3-8) also blocked a punt, while Tiquan Underwood had two touchdown catches in Tampa Bay's third straight win after losing its first eight games of the season.
"That was one of the more gutsy performances I've seen from a team," said Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano. "We were up against a lot of things today and the guys went up against all of them."
Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon finished the game 14-of-21 for 247 yards, while Bobby Rainey -- a week removed from a 163-yard game -- was limited to just 35 yards on 18 carries for Tampa Bay, which won its first road game in five tries this season.
"Our secondary really stepped its game today," said Glennon. "That is one of the best passing offenses over there, and they have the best receiver of our time. So the job the secondary did today was amazing."
Matthew Stafford had three touchdown passes, but was picked off four times and finished 26-of-46 for 297 yards for the Lions (6-5), who have dropped their past two games.
"I had a couple of bad decisions and unlucky bounces today," said Stafford. "That minus portion of the turnover ratio, we have to get that fixed."
Despite the losing streak, Detroit still finds itself atop the NFC North, as Chicago lost to St. Louis on Sunday and Green Bay played to a tie with Minnesota.
Chicago has the same record as Detroit, but the Lions won both meetings against the Bears. Green Bay won the first matchup with Detroit, and the Lions will host the Packers on Thursday in their annual Thanksgiving game.
"There's still a lot on the line and it's now a five-game season," said Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz. "As bitter and disappointing as this loss is, we have a short turnaround time here and we're not out of this, at all."
Tampa held a 24-21 lead after Underwood's second TD of the game, a 85-yarder less than a minute into the fourth quarter.
Holding the Lions on their ensuing touch, the Buccaneers' special teams came up with a big play by blocking a Sam Martin punt and recovering at the Detroit 11.
Detroit's defense, though, pushed the Bucs back six yards and forced a 35-yard field goal attempt from Rian Lindell, which he missed just to the left to keep it a three-point game.
The Lions turned the ball over yet again on their next drive, as Kris Durham caught a pass along the left sideline before it came out of his hands, with the Bucs getting the ball back at the Detroit 37.
Facing a 3rd-and-3 at the Detroit 25, Glennon took a 7-yard sack instead of throwing the ball away, leading to another missed field goal from Lindell -- this one from 50 yards -- to give Detroit another chance.
Starting at his own 40 with 3:49 to play, Stafford converted a 3rd-and-5 with a 21-yard pass over the middle to Calvin Johnson. Following another first down thanks to a defensive holding call, the Lions again faced a third down from the Tampa 28.
Flushed out of the pocket, Stafford went deep for Calvin Johnson near the goal line, but the ball popped out of his hands and into those of Banks, who held on for the pick before Glennon took three knees to end the game.
After quick three-and-outs from each squad to start the game, the Lions were driving and got to the Tampa Bay 22, but a Stafford pass to Nate Burleson was tipped into the air and Lavonte David came down with the interception.
Helped by a roughing-the-passer call on Nick Fairley on 3rd-and-15, the Buccaneers were able to get into field goal position and Lindell hit a 38- yarder for a 3-0 lead with 3:23 to play in the first.
Stafford drove the Lions back down the field on the next drive, with a 28-yard catch-and-run from Burleson on a screen getting the ball to the Tampa 36. Burleson followed that with an 18-yard catch, then later capped the 11-play, 80-yard march with a 5-yard grab in the end zone for a 7-3 lead just over three minutes into the second quarter.
Tampa got a 47-yard catch from Vincent Jackson on the first snap of its ensuing drive. Five plays later, Glennon hit Underwood just inside the end zone for a 7-yard score and a 10-7 advantage with 8:42 left in the first half.
Detroit again had an answer, as Reggie Bush took the first snap 15 yards on a carry, Durham caught a pass for 18 yards and a roughing-the-passer call on Tampa moved the ball to the Bucs' 32. Four plays later, Stafford tossed a pass to the right corner of the end zone, where Joseph Fauria came down with the ball for a 14-10 lead with 4:33 to play before halftime.
Following a three-and-out from the Bucs, Detroit got the ball back at its own 35. Stafford threw a pass out to his right for Brandon Pettigrew in which Leonard Johnson jumped the route for a clean pick, which he ran the other way for a 48-yard score and a 17-14 Tampa Bay lead with 50 seconds to play in the half.
The Lions' first possession of the second half saw them grab the lead back. Detroit went 69 yards over eight plays, with Pettigrew catching a pass over the middle in the end zone from 18 yards out for a 21-17 edge. The big play of the drive saw Calvin Johnson catch a 21-yard pass on 3rd-and-8.
Tampa again went three-and-out on its next touch, and Stafford drove the Lions down to the Tampa 25. On first down, though, he tried to force a pass into the end zone for Calvin Johnson, and Keith Tandy came up with the pick to keep it a four-point game.
After an exchange of punts, the Bucs found themselves pinned at their own five late in the third. After gaining a first down to get some room, Glennon went deep over the middle for Underwood, who caught the ball in stride and took it all the way for an 85-yard score and a 24-21 lead less than a minute into the final quarter.
Tampa joined the 1978 St. Louis Cardinals as the only NFL team to win three straight games after losing its first eight ... Burleson returned to play for first time since Week 3 after breaking his arm in a car accident ... It was the 16th three-touchdown game of Stafford's career and his second four- interception game ... Tampa cornerback Darrelle Revis sat out the second half with a groin injury ... Bush finished the game with 83 yards on 15 carries, while adding four catches for 17 yards ... Tampa Bay plays at Carolina next Sunday ... Detroit outgained the Bucs, 390-229, and controlled the ball for 33:22 ... Detroit had won the previous two matchups with Tampa and still leads the series, 29-27.
11/24 18:49:48 ET