The scoreboard was lopsided. The stat sheet looked worse.
And after Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford and the rest of the Lions dragged themselves back to the locker room at halftime, there was only one thing to do.
“Press the reset button,” wide receiver Kris Durham said.
Starting fresh after being dominated by Cleveland in the first half, Stafford threw three of his four touchdown passes after halftime, rallying Detroit to a 31-17 win over the Browns on Sunday.
The Lions (4-2) outscored the Browns 24-0 in the second half, sealing their win when Stafford hooked up with rookie tight end Joseph Fauria with 2:01 left. The 6-foot-7 Fauria caught three TD passes for the Lions, who played like a completely different team in the second half after leaving the field down 17-7 and looking listless, lifeless and destined for a second straight loss.
“We weren’t playing our best,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said of his team’s first-half struggles. “The players knew it. We came out in the second half and started to hit on all cylinders.”
The Browns (3-3) had their chances at a comeback end when quarterback Brandon Weeden’s baffling shovel pass with 4:36 left was intercepted by Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy.
“It’s a bone-headed play,” Weeden said.
Lions running back Reggie Bush finished with 135 total yards, 121 in the second half. At halftime, Bush had touched the ball just seven times. But Stafford went to the versatile back whenever he needed a big play and Bush, taking advantage of mismatches against slower Cleveland linebackers, had a 39-yard run in the third and caught an 18-yard TD pass.
“He’s not a dual threat or triple threat, he’s a quadruple threat,” Fauria said of Bush. “He does everything.”
Stafford finished 25 of 43 for 248 yards. He completed eight passes to Durham, who took over as Detroit’s primary target with superstar Calvin Johnson not himself because of a balky right knee. Johnson, who missed last week’s loss at Green Bay, had just three catches for 25 yards, but the Browns were forced to keep a watchful eye on “Megatron” at all times.
Weeden, making his first start since Week 2, finished 26 of 43 for 292 yards, but will be remembered for his ill-advised pass when Cleveland was driving for a possible tying touchdown.
Trailing 24-17 and at Detroit’s 44 with a first down, Weeden was pressured by defensive tackle C.J. Mosley, who had his hand around the quarterback’s left ankle. But instead of throwing the ball away or taking a sack, Weeden tried to pitch the ball over fullback Chris Ogbonnaya’s head but it was picked off by Levy.
It was another poor decision by Weeden, the second-year QB thrust back into the lineup after Brian Hoyer sustained a season-ending knee injury on Oct. 3.
“Anytime you try underhand stuff bad things happen,” Weeden said.
Stafford, on the other hand, made all the right moves in the second half. He was 15 of 21 for 165 yards and the three TDs in the final 30 minutes.
At halftime, Lions coaches had their say and Durham said starting Stephen Tulloch addressed the team.
“He got up in front of us and said a few words that he needed to say like a team leader would,” Durham said. “I think it got us fired up and ready to go for the second half.”
So what did Tulloch say?
“Team stuff,” Durham said.
It was certainly team stuff by the Lions in the second half as their defense stiffened. The Browns, who had piled up 115 yards rushing in the first, were limited to 6 total yards and no first downs in the third quarter.
Cleveland gained 145 total yards after halftime, 72 after the Lions built a 14-point lead.
Fauria’s 23-yard TD in the fourth period gave the Lions a 21-17 lead. Fauria got behind linebacker Craig Robertson and made a leaping catch in traffic before celebrating with a dunk over the goal post. Fauria has seven receptions this season, five for TDs.
“First of all, he’s tall,” Schwartz said of Fauria, an undrafted free agent from UCLA. “But there are a lot of tall guys who aren’t good football players.”
Weeden threw two short TD passes and Billy Cundiff kicked a 40-yard field goal as the Browns, using a balanced attack, scored 17 unanswered points in the second quarter to build their halftime lead.
NOTES: Stafford has 13 games with at least three TD passes, breaking Bobby Layne’s team record. ... Lions CB Rashean Mathis left in the first half with a groin injury and didn’t return. ... Weeden threw an interception in the first half, his first in 111 attempts. ... Cleveland was trying to win four in a row for just the second time since 1999.
The scoreboard was lopsided. The stat sheet looked worse.
District 1 remains unbeaten after two routs
Becca Siple’s response to a question on Twitter may have said it all.
“Best experience of my life,” Siple said, when asked by The Meadville Tribune via Twitter to describe her experience thus far at the Senior League Softball East Regional Tournament. Following her response was the hashtag #D1isfamily.
Steelers LB Spence caps lengthy comeback
The whistle blew and Sean Spence sprinted forward, each cathartic step distancing the linebacker from the horrific knee injury that threatened to end his NFL career before it even really began.
Spence almost gleefully smashed into fullback Bryce Davis during the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first full contact drill of training camp on Monday. The two tussled for several seconds before Davis — his fists full of Spence’s jersey — pulled them both to the ground.
District 1 dominates at East Regional
Outscoring its opponents 32-0, District 1 moved to 3-0 at the Senior League Softball East Regional Tournament on Monday with a pair of wins.
Gordon wins at Indy for record 5th time
With a tinge of gray hair at his temples, his hat on backward and his two young children by his side, Jeff Gordon celebrated as if he was 23 years old again.
Gordon won a NASCAR-record fifth Brickyard 400 on Sunday, eight days before his 43rd birthday and on the weekend Indianapolis Motor Speedway celebrated the 20th anniversary of his first Brickyard victory.
Roethlisberger OK with choice to wait on new deal
There are days when Ben Roethlisberger can feel every single hit he’s absorbed during a decade as one of the NFL’s most fearless quarterbacks.
And there are days when the Pittsburgh Steelers star sees the young faces surrounding him in the huddle and it seems like he can play forever.
Survey: Teens experimenting with HGH on the rise
Michael Guerreri wanted to try human growth hormones so he could look like a pro wrestler. Joe Badalanato hoped HGH would help him become a better football player. James O’Brien figured the drug would improve his fastball.
The three 18-year-olds from suburban Philadelphia told The Associated Press this week that they bought bottles of HGH online in the past year. Turns out, what they bought was fake.
Montoya back at Indy intent on winning for Penske
Juan Pablo Montoya is back at Indianapolis Motor Speedway — one night only, an encore of sorts, in a guest-starring role for Team Penske.
The Colombian is entered in the Brickyard 400 for the explicit purpose of winning at Indy in NASCAR and giving team owner Roger Penske one of the few trophies missing from his collection.
District 1 looking forward to bigger goals
The members of the District 1 Senior League softball team haven’t spent a whole lot of time playing together.
Meadville's magical season comes to an end
The state run is over for the Meadville Junior League All-Stars.
Guess they’ll just have to content themselves with a District 1 championship, a Section 1 championship and an incredible turnaround from the year before.
AP source: Gordon to meet with league Aug. 1
The Cleveland Browns may soon learn whether they’ll have Josh Gordon this season.
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