Lions Fend Off Buccaneers 31-23 and Advance to NFC Title Game


Jared Goff threw for two touchdowns to lead the Detroit Lions to a 31-23 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Ford Field and set up a NFC Title Game date with The San Francisco 49ers next Sunday (6:30 PM on FOX).

The Lions won the toss and went three and out.  On a third and 17, Mayfield had a ball tipped and was picked off by C.J. Gardner Johnson who returned the pick to the Buccaneer 41.

Goff completed a big third down to Josh Reynolds, but the Bucs were able to bite down and hold the Lions to a 23-yard Michael Badgely Field Goal to open the scoring.

Mayfield answered big completions to Mike Evans and Chris Godwin that set the Bucs up at the Lion 26.  Brian Branch sacked Mayfield for a nine-yard loss, which helped hold Tampa to a 43-yard Chase McLaughlin Field Goal to even the game at three.

On the ensuing drive that overlapped into the second quarter, Goff completed a key third down to Amaron St. Brown as well as three catches by Tight End Sam LaPorta   Goff then hit Reynolds across the middle for a nine-yard touchdown.

After trading punts, Mayfield completed a 22-yard pass to Evans deep in his own and completed key passed to Tight End Cade Otton and Running Back Rachad White, but Mclaughlin doinked a 51-yard field goal off the left upright.

The Bucs got that ball back with 1:14 in the half and Mayfield converted a third-and-one with a 14 yard scramble and then completed passes to Evans for 27 and 29 yards, with the latter being an over the shoulder grab to the Lion 2.

Mayfield lofted a two-yard touchdown to Otton with just 15 seconds to go in the half.

The Bucs came out of the break by establishing the run with White, who took a carry off right tackle for 14 yards.  The drive was thwarted by a third down sack by Aiden Hutchinson that took the Bucs out of Field Goal range.

With under seven minutes to go in the third, On a third-and-one, Goff hit backup Tight end Brock Wright for a gain of 34.  Goff was pinpoint on the drive and hit St. Brown for a 12yard completion down to the five.  That led to Greg Reynolds blasting in for a touchdown on a fourth-and-one.

Mayfield made a sensational play where he looked to be sacked and banged off the defends and completed 13 yard strike to Otton. On the very next play, Mayfield hit a wide open Otton for 27 down to the Lion 13.

On Third and 10, Mayfield beat the blitz up the middle and White caught a screen pass and galloped in for a 13-yard touchdown to tie the game at 17-17 with 10 seconds to go in the third quarter.

Jamyr Gibbs put the Lions ahead 24-17 with a 31 yard run.

After holding Tampa Bay, Goff hit a 23-yard dart to Jameson Williams for 23 yards to the Detroit 48 with just under 11 minutes to go.  Goff then hit St. Brown for 15 on a third-and-15.  On the next play Goff hit Gibbs with a 20-yard touch pass over the middle.  Goff sewed the game with a eight-yard fade route to St. Brown on the right side of the endzone to give Detroit a 31-17 lead.

Mayfield led the Bucs on a 75 yard drive the featured catches by Dave Moore and Chris Godwin, that culminated with a 16-yard strike to Mike Evans with 4:37 to go.  A fade to Evans on the two pint try was unsuccessful

The Bucs got the back after the two minute warning, but Mayfield was picked off by Derrick Barnes to seal the game and send the Lions to their first title game since 1991.

Goff was 30-43 for 287 yards and two touchdowns.  Gibbs Carried the ball nine times for 74 yards and that touchdown.  St. Brown caught eight balls for 77 yards and a touchdown.

Mayfield was 26-41 for 349 yards with three touchdowns and two Interceptions.  White Carried the ball nine times for 55 yards.  Evans caught eight balls for 147 yards and one touchdown.

NOTESβ€”Lions Left Guard Jonah Jackson left in the 2nd quarter with a left knee injury.