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Lions beat Saints, 28-13, to extend division lead

Defense picks off Drew Brees 3 times

Detroit Lions home game, Ford Field, Jan. 1 vs Packers
Detroit Lions home game, Ford Field, Jan. 1 vs Packers

The Detroit Lions went on the road Sunday and upset the New Orleans Saints, 28-13, to increase their NFC North Division lead to two games over the Vikings and Packers.

RELATED: Lions Chat #OnePride

Matt Prater kicked five field goals and the Lions picked off Drew Brees three times in the win. It was the first game in which the Lions never trailed -- even in the fourth quarter.

At 8-4, the Lions are in prime position to return to the postseason with a strong finish in their last four games.

You can see the game details below:

First half

LIONS 3-0: After opening the game with a defensive stop, Matt Prater hit a 27-yard field goal to give the Lions a 3-0 lead with 8:14 left in the first quarter.

The Lions' defense came up big once again on the Saints' second drive, stuffing running back Tim Hightower on 3rd and 1 to force a punt.

Lions 10-0: The Lions converted a big 3rd and 11 deep in their own territory when Matthew Stafford hit Eric Ebron over the middle. A few plays later, Stafford hit Golden Tate down the sideline for 35 yards to get the Lions into the red zone. The next play went to Anquan Boldin right at the goal line, and Theo Riddick caught a 1-yard touchdown to give the Lions an early two-possession lead.

The Saints moved out to their own 38-yard line after picking up a first down, but the Lions defense held strong, forcing two incompletions and stopping Josh Hill for a 3-yard gain on 3rd and 10 to get the ball back to Stafford.

Detroit's offense stalled on the third drive, going three and out after a 3rd and 11 screen pass to Riddick couldn't pick up the necessary yardage.

Lions 10-3: New Orleans got their first spark of the game as the Lions' punt was returned to the Detroit 48-yard line. The Lions committed an offsides penalty on the first play to put the Saints in good position to get on the board. Mark Ingram made the big play of the drive, turning a pitch play into a 22-yard gain down the right sideline, but an ensuing holding penalty put the Saints well behind the chains. New Orleans had to settle for a 40-yard field goal from Wil Lutz.

Lions 13-3: Stafford threw a pass low to Boldin on 3rd and 3, but a pass interference penalty extended the drive as the Lions avoided another three and out. Stafford kept rolling after the penalty, hitting Tate on a cross route, Andre Roberts to the left and Eric Ebron three times to bring the Lions down near the Saints' 10-yard line. But the drive stalled there, as Detroit settled for another Prater field goal -- this one from 29 yards out -- to regain their 10-point lead.

Lions 13-6: The Saints were backed up deep in their own  territory to start the final drive of the first half, but a roughing the quarterback penalty gave Brees some breathing room out to the 26. With 15 seconds left in the half, Brandin Cooks burned the Lions for a 39-yard field that put the Saints in field position. Brees then dumped off a 17-yard screen pass to get New Orleans to the 14-yard line with nine seconds left. After an incomplete pass over the middle was tipped by Rafael Bush, New Orleans settled for a 32-yard field goal as time expired.

Second half

Lions 16-6: The Lions started the second half how they finished the first -- driving easily to midfield after a nice run after the catch by Tate. On a 3rd and 16 from the Lions' own 45-yard line, Stafford found T.J. Jones on a double move all the way to the Saints' 19-yard line. It was the first catch of the year for Jones, who was activated because Marvin Jones missed the game. But the Lions stalled in the red zone once again, and had to settle for Prater's third field goal attempt. He cashed it in from 32 yards and the Lions went up 16-6.

To start the following drive, Brees tried to take a deep shot downfield on 2nd and 6, but Glover Quin made an excellent diving deflection to take away a huge gain. It appeared the Lions had forced a 4th down, but offsetting penalties gave the Saints a second chance, which they converted easily to John Kuhn over the middle. Quin made another big play to end the drive, picking off Brees at the Lions' 46-yard line on a desperation pass on 3rd and 15.

Lions 19-6: Boldin made a big play on 3rd down to snag a high bullet from Stafford and move the chains to the Saints' 37. Stafford escaped pressure on the next play and scrambled  for another first down to the left sideline. Zach Zenner took over for an injured Dwayne Washington and got the Lions down near the red zone once again at the 21. On 3rd and 5, it was Stafford to Boldin again as the Lions moved the chains down to the 11-yard line on a quick slant. Once again, the offense couldn't punch it in, so Prater knocked in his fourth field goal -- a 27-yarder -- to extend the lead.

Lions 19-13: Brees got the Saints' next drive off on a good foot, hitting Coby Fleener for a 31-yard reception and then hit Michael Thomas twice to get down to the Lions' 14-yard line. Eventually, Kuhn plowed in from the 1-yard line to give the Saints their first touchdown and cut the lead to 6.

Lions 25-13: Theo Riddick helped the Lions move the chains on the most important drive of the game, taking a screen pass on 2nd and 5 and making a defender miss to pick up the first down to the Lions' 34. After two incomplete passes, Stafford found Tate on 3rd and 10 and Tate scampered into the end zone for a 66-yard touchdown. The Saints were one stop away from getting the ball back, down six points. Instead, the Lions went up 12. Stafford threw incomplete on the two-point conversion attempt that would have put the Lions up two touchdowns.

The Saints went to the air on the next drive, but the Lions' secondary was up to the task -- batting down two passes, while the defensive line knocked down another -- and New Orleans was forced to punt.

Lions 28-13: Detroit took over with great field position due to a poor punt by Thomas Morstead. Stafford took the first snap from the Lions' 46-yard line. Zenner took the first three plays by himself, picking up 24 yards to the Saints' 30-yard line. That was close enough for Prater, who booted a 52-yard field goal on 4th and 10 to give the Lions their largest lead.

New Orleans' last-ditch effort began with a sack, as Brees was dropped at his own 18-yard line. A short gain on a screen set up a 3rd and 14, which Brees converted with a long pass to Willie Snead to the 45. The Saints' momentum didn't last long, as two plays later, Tavon Wilson made a leaping grab to ice the game.

The Lions took over with just over five minutes left in the game. Zenner led the charge into Saints territory, and after a 9-yard screen pass to Tate, the Lions elected not to go for a 4th and 1 at the Saints' 38-yard line. Stafford accepted a delay of game penalty and Sam Martin punted to the Saints' 11-yard line.

Brees hit Cooks for a huge gain on first down, but a holding penalty negated the completion and left the Saints with a 1st and 20. After two short completions, Brees picked up the first down to the Lions' 44-yard line to keep the Saints alive. The next play was a screen to Travaris Cadet that brought the Saints all the way down to the Lions' 26. In the red zone, the Saints ran the clock down to two seconds left at the 9-yard line. The game ended with the Lions' third pick as Miles Killebrew caught the jump ball in the end zone.