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Stafford's 4th winning drive leads Lions over Bucs 24-21

Lions 24, Buccaneers 21.

Posted: Dec. 10, 2017 4:35 PM

By FRED GOODALL
AP Sports Writer
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Matthew Stafford passed for 381 yards with an injured throwing hand and set up Matt Prater for a 46-yard field goal in the closing seconds Sunday, helping the Detroit Lions remain in playoff contention with a 24-21 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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Stafford made his 109th consecutive start despite being limited in practice after his right hand was stepped on during the previous week at Baltimore. He completed 36 of 44 attempts against the Bucs (4-9), and the Lions (7-6) overcame two interceptions and a fumble to stop a two-game losing streak.

Jameis Winston rallied Tampa Bay, which has lost eight of 10 following a 2-1 start, with a pair of fourth-quarter TD passes. But once again, the Bucs' defense couldn't hold off an opponent down the stretch.

Stafford moved the Lions 49 yards in eight plays to set up Prater's winning kick with 20 seconds left - the 32nd game-winning drive of the quarterback's career, and fourth this season. Stafford threw a 5-yard TD pass to Golden Tate and Theo Riddick scored on runs of 2 and 18 yards to help the Lions take a 21-7 lead into the fourth quarter.

Winston, who threw two interceptions and lost a fumble, led a 75-yard drive that he finished with a 2-yard scoring pass to O.J. Howard and then used a 40-yard pass interference call against Detroit cornerback DJ Hayden to set a 2-yard TD throw to seldom-used offensive lineman Leonard Wester to make it 21-21 with eight minutes remaining.

Winston completed 26 of 38 passes for 285 yards. His fumble led to Riddick's second TD run. Tampa Bay finished with five turnovers, and Winston was sacked three times.

BAD CALL
It took two replay reviews for officials to get it right on a play initially ruled an incomplete pass and 15-yard penalty against the Lions for a hit on a defenseless receiver in the first half. Officials first looked at Winston's first-quarter completion to Howard, who fumbled after being hit in the shoulder by safety Quandre Diggs at Detroit's 18-yard line.

The Bucs retained possession when the play was ruled an incompletion and that a 15-yard penalty should be assessed from the spot of the previous play. The Lions then successfully challenged the ruling of an incomplete pass. Following another review, referee Ed Hochuli announced Howard indeed caught the ball and took four steps before being hit, and the Lions were awarded the ball on the fumble recovery. There was no foul for the hit, which was legal.

INJURIES
Lions: Played without RT Rick Wagner (ankle), who was inactive.
Buccaneers: DT Gerald McCoy left in the first half with a shoulder/biceps injury and did not return.
UP NEXT
Lions: Return home to face Chicago on Saturday.
Buccaneers: Begin a stretch of three consecutive games to end the season against NFC South rivals, hosting Atlanta next Monday night.

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