NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Sam LaPorta had a career-high nine catches for 140 yards, including an early touchdown and a key first-down interception in the final minutes, and the Detroit Lions beat the New Orleans Saints 33 on Sunday. Defeated by -28. Post their best record in 12 games since 1962.
The Saints lost quarterback Derek Carr in the fourth quarter to back, shoulder and head injuries. Carr was hurt on a penalty hit by Bruce Irvin, who threw his body weight into the quarterback.
Jared Goff passed for 213 yards and two TDs for the Lions (9-3), who blew a three-touchdown lead and then held off a stunning Saints comeback. New Orleans (5-7) fell one game behind first-place Atlanta in the NFC South, the league's weakest division.
After trailing 21–0 in the first quarter, the Saints got as close as 24–21 in the third quarter. The Saints also had the ball at midfield with a chance to take the lead in the final three minutes, but the ball went down when Jameis Winston threw behind Chris Olave.
Detroit was able to run out time from there thanks to first-down catches by LaPorta and Josh Reynolds.
The Saints turned the ball over twice and both were costly.
Carr was intercepted on the Saints' first offensive play of the game. He also lost a fumble in the fourth quarter when left guard James Hurst inadvertently knocked the ball out of Carr's hands as the quarterback collected the snap at the New Orleans 25 and seemingly fumbled. The Lions converted both takeaways into touchdowns.
Tracy Walker recovered Carr's fumble, setting up Jameson Williams' 19-yard touchdown run on a reverse to make the score 33–21.
The Saints got back within a score with 7:30 left when Alvin Kamara, who had 109 yards and two TDs from scrimmage, scored the 53rd TD of his career to set a new franchise mark.
The Lions roared out of the gate, tying a franchise record with 21 points in the first quarter.
David Montgomery's short run made it 7–0, highlighted by Jahmir Gibbs' 32-yard run at the New Orleans 2.
Lions defensive back Brian Branch then intercepted a pass by tight end Juwan Johnson, leading to Goff's 13-yard scoring pass to LaPorta.
Goff's 29-yard completion to LaPorta set up his 25-yard scoring strike to Amon-Ra St. Brown, who also passed Calvin Johnson for most yards receiving by a Lion in his first three seasons.
Long-suffering Lions fans traveled en masse for a chance to see their team carry its best record through 12 games in six decades. Detroit started 10–2 in 1962.
The "Honolulu blue" of the Lions' color scheme was prevalent in the Superdome stands and there were even moments when chants of "Let's go Lions!" Slogans were raised. echoed in the entire stadium.
Detroit, which has not made the playoffs since the 2016 season, has a solid lead in the NFC North.
The game was delayed in the first half when Kamara was kicked by a member of the chain crew off the sideline assistant's leg. The injured official was carried off the field and the chain crew operated with one less man for the remainder of the game.
Lions: C Frank Ragno left in the first half with a knee injury. DT Aleem McNeil also appeared injured after playing in the third quarter, but was able to make his way to the sideline.
SAINTS: OL Andrus Peat was treated for a hand injury but returned. DT Malcolm Roach was also treated for an injury in the fourth quarter.
Leo: Go to Chicago next Sunday.
Saints: Host Carolina next Sunday.
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