DETROIT – Philip Rivers threw three touchdown passes in the second quarter to give the Indianapolis Colts a double-digit lead and they beat the Detroit Lions 41-21 on Sunday.
Rivers picked apart Detroit’s defense while completing 23 of 33 attempts, mostly short passes to the outside or over the middle. The 38-year-old quarterback also showed he still has some arm strength to go along with his savvy touch, perfectly throwing a 29-yard pass to Nyheim Hines late in the first half.
The Colts (5-2) were healthy and looked rested and ready to roll after being idle last week and improved to 3-0 after a bye under coach Frank Reich.
Hines had so much energy he celebrated each of his two touchdowns in the second quarter with moves that would make a gymnast proud, pulling off roundoffs into full twists in the end zone. The first acrobatic feat was particularly impressive because Hines went in motion to the left, reversed field to make a short catch, sprinted up the sideline and spun to break a tackle to score.
The Lions (3-4) lost a seventh straight home game, dating to last season, and missed an opportunity to win three in a row for the first time with coach Matt Patricia.
Matthew Stafford was 24 of 42 for 336 yards with three touchdowns, two to Marvin Jones, and two costly turnovers.
Detroit scored first, as it has in every game this season, after blocking a punt that set up Stafford’s 25-yard pass to Jones late in the first quarter. Stafford’s second touchdown pass helped the Lions pull within six points early in the third quarter, but he turned the ball over to let Indy pull away.
Colts linebacker Darius Leonard, returning from a two-game absence because of a groin injury, forced Stafford to fumble. Jordan Wilkins took advantage with a 1-yard run and 2-point conversion to restore Indy’s double-digit lead early in the fourth quarter.
On Stafford’s next snap, he threw the ball directly to cornerback Kenny Moore and he returned the interception 29 yards. Suddenly, the Colts were ahead 35-14.
Colts: WR T.Y. Hilton went out with a groin injury.
Lions: WR Kenny Golladay (hip), WR Jamal Agnew (ribs) and OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai (foot) left the game.
Colts: host Baltimore in a matchup of AFC teams with winning records.
Lions: play at Minnesota in a matchup of the bottom two teams in the NFC North.