NEW YORK: Matthew Stafford threw three touchdown passes and the Detroit Lions ripped the New Orleans Saints 35-27 Monday night (Tuesday in Manila) in a matchup of teams already eliminated from the NFL playoff race.
The Lions improved to 5-9 while the Saints fell to the same mark.
Stafford, who had a club one-game accuracy record of 22-for-25 for 254 yards, threw first-half touchdown passes of one and five yards to Golden Tate and four yards to Michael Burton for a 21-3 half-time edge.
And when Detroit’s Ameer Abdullah ran untouched 15 yards around the left end for a touchdown with 3:10 elapsed in the third quarter, the Lions enjoyed a 28-3 advantage.
But Drew Brees rallied the Saints before their hometown supporters in the Superdome.
Brees connected on a 27-yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks and an 11-yard touchdown throw to Marques Colston with a 22-yard Kai Forbath field goal sandwiched in between to lift New Orleans within 28-20 with 10:06 remaining.
The Lions responded with a nine-play, 76-yard touchdown drive capped by Joique Bell’s one-yard run to seize a 35-20 edge with 5:24 to play.
Brees answered by marching the Saints 80 yards in 15 plays and New Orleans pulled within 35-27 on his one-yard touchdown pass to Benjamin Watson with 1:55 remaining.
Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson recovered an onside kick attempt by the Saints and the Lions ran the clock down, but Matt Prater missed a field goal to give the Saints the ball with nine seconds remaining and needing 72 yards for a touchdown.
The Saints managed to gain a few yards on two desperation plays but time ran out on them.
With his touchdown toss to Cooks, Brees became only the fourth quarterback in NFL history to reach 60,000 career yards, joining Dan Marino, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre.
Brees also became the first NFL quarterback with 10 consecutive seasons throwing for 4,000 yards and stretched his NFL record streak of games with a touchdown pass to 52 in a row.