Detroit Lions find new playmakers in win vs. Browns


The Detroit Lions followed the script of a team on the rise Sunday.

Instead of folding on the road, Matthew Stafford and friends marched into Cleveland and took care of business with an edgy 31-17 win over the Browns.

Lions All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson played through the pain of a nagging knee injury, but his presence served more as a decoy, occupying Browns cornerback Joe Haden and opening up opportunities for Detroit's other targets.

Stafford sprayed the ball to seven pass-catchers and found little-used Joseph Fauria for three touchdowns. The undrafted rookie tight end entered with just four catches on the season, but he took advantage of the single coverage.

With Megatron's wattage somewhat dimmed, the Lions could have crumbled as they did against the Packers last week, but the opposite happened. Stafford worked the offense out of dark corners and made key throws down the stretch.

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In other words, the opposite of Brandon Weeden, bringing us to our next point:

1. The Browns' soon-to-be-30 quarterback is holding Cleveland's offense hostage. He's creaky in the pocket, slow to pull the trigger and drags down the play of his young receivers. In a post-Brian Hoyer world, Josh Gordon talked about having to adjust to Weeden's high-octane passes. Translation: He lacks touch, leading to drops and balls ricocheting off hands. Every drive is an adventure with Mr. Weeden.

2. Megatron's snaps were limited, but that gave us a closer look at third-year pro Kris Durham. Stafford targeted the former Georgia Bulldog wideout a team-leading 13 times. Durham caught eight balls for 83 yards in a battle with Browns corner Buster Skrine that should make for some intriguing All-22 footage.

3. Reggie Bush was held in check for two quarters but carved up the Browns in the second half. Stafford repeatedly found him in space as Bush ripped off 78 yards by land and another 57 through the air. Not his biggest day statistically, but Bush wore down Cleveland's D.

4. Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy hauled in a pair of spectacular interceptions:

5. The victory keeps Detroit (4-2) atop the NFC North. The loss sinks the Browns (3-3) a game behind the Bengals, and we question if Cleveland -- with the Packers and Chiefs up next -- will see first place again.

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