Detroit, MI- With the 2014 season coming down to its’ final weeks, playoff sports are on the line and no team can let up this late in the season. The Detroit Lions are aware of their own fate as they took care of business against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34-17 at Detroit’s Ford Field. Matthew Stafford threw for 311 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions for the Lions who improved to 9-4 on the season. Calvin Johnson was spectacular again with eight catches for 158 yards and a touchdown and Golden Tate had five catches for 50 yards for the Lions as well. The Lions were finally able to get a big run play when running back Joique Bell had a 57 yard run that led to a touchdown later in the drive. The Lions defense was able to force three turnovers including interceptions from safeties Glover Quinn and James Ighedibo.
The Lions defense was also superb on the ground once again as they allowed Buccaneers running back Doug Martin a season low with only 22 yards on the ground. The Lions come in leading the NFL in rush yards allowed with just over 78 yards per game. While their run defense is outstanding, their run offense has been mediocre all season as they came in second to last in the league in rush yard per game. The Lions are in an all too familiar situation from last year, when they led the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North division but squandered it away with a poor December when they lost 6 of their last seven games to miss the playoffs. The win Sunday snapped their 12 game losing streak in December and secured their first winning season since 2011 when they last made the playoffs with a 10-6 record.
Tampa Bay struggled all day from start to finish, receiver Vincent Jackson did a good game with 10 catches for 159 yards and rookie receiver had two touchdown catches as well. The lack of run game was the Achilles heel for the Bucs and despite the two receiver’s productive afternoons, quarterback Josh McCown had trouble finding other targets. The Lions play their final home game of the 2014 season Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings and then play their final two games at Chicago and Green Bay. The Lions have defeated all three teams this season, but the Green Bay game will ultimately decide whether the Lions will win the division or even make the playoffs all together. The Packers still lead the Lions by a half game in the division and play host to the Atlanta Falcons tonight for Monday Night Football.