Lions stop Browns' win streak
The Detroit Lions have proved they can win without a dominating game from superstar receiver Calvin Johnson.
Johnson returned from a knee injury to catch three passes for 25 yards on Sunday, but it was rookie tight end Joseph Fauria leading the scoring with three touchdown catches from Matthew Stafford in a 31-17 victory over the Cleveland Browns.
"I was targeted for a few touchdowns, but the rest of the game was all my team," Fauria said. "Everybody played their butts off for a big win for us."
Reggie Bush had one touchdown reception for the Lions (4-2), who share the NFC North lead with the Chicago Bears.
The Browns (3-3) saw their three-game winning streak end. They slipped behind the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North.
The Lions scored 24 straight points in the second half, holding the Browns to 20 yards of net offense after halftime until the final two minutes.
"The second half we started to hit on all cylinders -- offense, defense and special teams," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said.
Stafford completed 25 of 43 passes for 248 yards. He was intercepted once.
Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden finished 26-for-43 for 292 yards with two touchdown passes and two interceptions. Browns receiver Josh Gordon had seven catches for 126 yards.
Detroit chopped into a 10-point halftime deficit on its first possession of the third quarter on a drive that featured Bush (17 carries for 78 yards, five receptions for 57 yards). The eight-year veteran broke off a 39-yard run and then finished the drive by scoring on an 18-yard screen pass from Stafford.
The Lions drove toward a go-ahead touchdown near the end of the third quarter, but Stafford's pass intended for Kevin Ogletree was tipped by cornerback Buster Skrine and intercepted in the end zone by Tashaun Gipson. The safety returned the ball to the Cleveland 30.
The Browns did nothing with the takeaway and Detroit moved in front the next time it had the ball. Stafford's second touchdown pass to Fauria, a 23-yarder with 10:35 to go in the game, gave the Lions a 21-17 lead.
"We weren't able to close the game out in the second half," Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said. "That's something we need to learn to do."
Detroit added 10 more points in the final minutes, capped by a 10-yard Fauria scoring catch with 2:05 to play.
"We just didn't execute like we should have executed," Browns cornerback Buster Skrine said.
The Lions struck first on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Stafford to Fauria. Stafford intentionally threw the ball high and Fauria turned with his back to the end-zone sideline, leaped and caught the ball over Browns safety Johnson Bademosi.
The Browns evened the score early in the second quarter on a drive keyed by a 45-yard gain on an end-around by Travis Benjamin.
Weeden kept the drive alive by connecting with Gordon for 9 yards on third-and-8 from the Lions 15, then finished it off with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Chris Ogbonnaya.
The Browns took a 14-7 lead with 1:16 left in the first half when Weeden rolled right and flipped the ball 2 yards to Greg Little in the front right corner of the end zone. The Browns had to convert only one third down on the nine-play drive.
A 40-yard field goal by Billy Cundiff expanded the lead to 17-7 at halftime.
NOTES: Johnson, inactive last week because of a knee injury, started against the Browns after being limited in practice. ... Lions RT Jason Fox was inactive because of a knee injury. Corey Hilliard replaced him in the starting lineup. ... Browns OLB Jabaal Sheard missed his third consecutive game because of a knee injury. ... Cleveland QB Brian Hoyer (knee) was placed on injured reserve Saturday.
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