x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Detroit Lions roar back into NFL play-off hunt

Matthew Stafford got the Lions' offence roaring again and has Detroit one win away from clinching a spot in the post-season for the first time since 1999.

Nate Burleson, left, and the Detroit Lions left the Oakland Raiders in their wake on Sunday.
Nate Burleson, left, and the Detroit Lions left the Oakland Raiders in their wake on Sunday.

Calvin Johnson, the Detroit Lions receiver, had been mostly ineffective for five weeks.

Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh took himself out of the past two games when he blew his cool and was handed a two-game suspension.

But Detroit's two brightest stars showed up in the biggest moments in a victory on Sunday that put the Lions on the brink of their first play-off berth in more than a decade.

Johnson caught a six-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford with 39 seconds left to cap a 98-yard drive, and Suh blocked Sebastian Janikowski's 65-yard field-goal attempt on the final play of Detroit's 28-27 victory over the Oakland Raiders.

"I'd rather be on the football field helping my team than not be on the football team and watching them," said Suh, banned for two games for stepping on Green Bay's lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith during a loss on Thanksgiving Day.

The Lions need to win just one of their final two games to make the play-offs for the first time since 1999. They host San Diego on Saturday with a chance to clinch at home.

"It's a dream scenario," said Kyle Vanden Bosch, the defensive end. "Christmas Eve we've got a home game. It would be nice. You couldn't write a better story."

The Lions were in trouble when Aaron Curry returned Stafford's fumble six yards for a touchdown to give the Raiders a 27-14 lead with just under eight minutes to play. But Stafford engineered two long scoring drives in the final minutes to give the Lions the road victory over the Raiders (7-7).

He completed 29 of 52 passes for 391 yards and four touchdowns.

Johnson caught nine for 214 yards, ending a five-game drought with no 100-yard receiving games and only one touchdown.

"He was due" for a big game "and I'm glad it happened," Stafford said of Johnson. "I'm just proud of our team. We stuck together."

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