Five reasons the Lions beat Washington, 30-27

DETROIT — Matt Prater kicked a 59-yard field goal with no time left to give the Detroit Lions a 30-27 win at Ford Field on Sunday.

If there had been a stadium full of fans they would have been on the edge of their seats for the final two minutes.

 “We got it close enough for the most clutch kicker in football to come out there and do his thing,’’ quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “So, I was extremely happy for Matt Prater and that operation to get it up and through the uprights. I mean, 59-yarder to win it, that’s what that guy loves to do and what we love having him for. He’s a special guy in those moments and I was really proud of him today for that.”

The Lions (4-5) snapped a two-game losing streak. It was the Lions’ first win at home since Oct. 27, 2019. Washington fell to 2-7.

Detroit held a 24-3 lead midway through the third quarter, but then the Lions defense allowed three straight touchdowns to knot the game up. Still Detroit was able to hold on for the victory.

Five reasons the Lions won:

1. Matt Prater, who had been a little inconsistent lately, came through with the winning 59-yard field goal which tied his longest while in Detroit. He also kicked another 37-yarder in the fourth quarter that gave the Lions a 27-24 lead. It was Prater’s second game-winning field goal this season and the 10th since he joined the Lions. He also kicked the winner at Arizona in Week 3. It was his 100th game in a Lions uniform. He said his mental approach to the game-winner was the same as any other kick. “Just go out and swing hard and hope it goes straight type of thing. I don’t need any more pressure on myself or think that it’s anything more than it is. It’s just a field goal,’’ Prater said. “Like I said in the past, I know I haven’t had the best year, but any time I go out, I expect to make them and coming through in those moments for the team is always big and great job by the team for getting down there to even give us a shot at it, with however many seconds were there when we got the ball after the kickoff. So it was pretty cool.”

2. Matthew Stafford threw three touchdown passes and managed the last-minute drive when Detroit got the ball with 16 seconds left and tied 27-27 at their own 25. He threw a 10-yard pass to Quintin Cephus, next play was incomplete to Cephus but Washington called for roughing the passer which got the Lions to the 50 with 6 seconds left. Stafford threw a short pass to Marvin Jones Jr.. Time out was called with 3 seconds left. Then Prater kicked the 59-yarder. Stafford finished 24 of 33 with 276 yards and a 127.8 quarter rating.  “There are definitely some things we can do better and it’ll help stretch the lead, but I’m just proud of our guys for fighting,’’ Stafford said. “A win is a win. It’s tough to win in this league, I’m never going to apologize for one. Could we play better? Yeah. But we did a nice job not turning the ball over, defense did a nice job getting some stops, our special teams was nails as it always is, so that was great.”

3. Running back D’Andre Swift got the start and proved that he was worth it. He had 16 carries for 81 yards and five catches for 68 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown catch. His runs of 5, 11 and 16 yards help set up the opening touchdown, a 55-yard pass to Marvin Jones Jr. “He did a great job when he had the opportunity to make plays today, he made some great ones. Some huge runs there in the second half, a big catch for a touchdown as well,’’ Stafford said. “I was really happy with the way he played. I know he had a bunch of fun out there running around and making plays. The more guys we can get doing that, I don’t care who it is, the better, but he definitely had a great day and I’m proud of him.”

4. The Lions defense, which has been problematic in past weeks, held on when it counted most late in the fourth quarter. They have work to do, no question. It was a start. Think baby steps. Alex Smith, in his first start since 2018, threw for 390 yards often to wide-open targets. 

5. The coaching gets the blame when they lose so they should get a little credit here for pulling off the win. Somehow the players keep a positive mindset even though the start to the season has not been what they envisioned. And despite letting Washington back in the  game in the second half, they persevered. So that’s something.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions) 

(Next up: The Lions play at Carolina at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 22.)