Mistake-prone Lions lose to Tampa Bay 24-21

Mistake-prone Lions lose to Tampa Bay 24-21

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Matthew Stafford and the Lions remain tied atop the NFC Central. Matthew Stafford and the Lions remain tied atop the NFC Central.

DETROIT (AP) -- Calvin Johnson adjusted to the flight of the ball and it looked like he was about to come down with another big catch.

Then he was hit, the ball popped free, and Tampa Bay's Johnthan Banks grabbed it out of midair.

It was the fifth turnover of the game for the Detroit Lions, and that final interception enabled the Buccaneers to run out the clock on an improbable 24-21 win. Detroit's Matthew Stafford threw four interceptions, and the opportunistic Bucs held on late.

"I can't make bad decisions, and I had a couple of those and a couple bad breaks," Stafford said.

Johnson was near the Tampa Bay 5 when the ball slipped in and out of his hands on that interception with about a minute to go.

Detroit (6-5) remains tied with Chicago atop the NFC North, but the coming days will test the Lions. They've lost two in a row since taking over sole possession of first place in the division.

This home loss to Tampa Bay (3-8) means the Lions will be under pressure Thursday when they host Green Bay on Thanksgiving.

Here are five things we learned when the Bucs edged the sloppy Lions:

GLENNON'S POISE: Tampa Bay rookie Mike Glennon went 14 of 21 for 247 yards and two touchdowns -- not the flashiest numbers, but the contrast between him and the mistake-prone Lions was stark.

Even one of Glennon's worst plays -- a sack he took on third down in the fourth quarter that forced the Bucs to try a longer field goal -- had a redeeming quality.

"You go out of bounds, now you lose 40 seconds of time -- you throw it away, you lose 40 seconds of time," Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano said. "The one thing that you love about coaching Mike Glennon, is he has a reason for everything he does."

The Bucs missed the field goal with 3:49 to go, but that sequence didn't come back to haunt them.

EXASPERATING LIONS: Tampa Bay has three straight victories after an 0-8 start, but this game felt like it was lost more than it was won. Detroit had five turnovers -- and the Lions still looked like they might win until the last one.

"We didn't handle being first place in our division like we should have," running back Reggie Bush said.

CONTAINING JOHNSON: For the second straight weekend, the Lions struggled to get the ball to Johnson in the second half. Tampa Bay kept him under control despite losing star cornerback Darrelle Revis to a groin injury in the middle of the game.

"Whoever was covering him had a lot of help and he did a great job of trying to fight through it," Stafford said. "I was giving him some chances -- just didn't happen."

Johnson had some extra help in this game because of Nate Burleson's return. Burleson caught a touchdown pass for Detroit in his first game since hurting his arm in a late-September car accident.

TURNING IT AROUND: The Bucs have refused to let losses and off-the-field distractions from the first half of the season linger. They dealt with the benching and release of quarterback Josh Freeman and a MRSA infections outbreak.

Now, Tampa Bay has won three in a row, and Schiano was particularly pleased with this victory, on the road against a playoff contender.

"One of the more gutsy performances I've seen from a team," Schiano said. "A lot of things were up against them today."

STOPPED: The Bucs did struggle offensively against Ndamukong Suh and the Lions, making only 10 first downs.

Tampa Bay had been relying on the running game lately, but couldn't against a defense that is stingy on the ground. Bobby Rainey was held to 35 yards on 15 carries after he had 163 yards rushing and scored three times the previous week against Atlanta.

But Leonard Johnson scored on a second-quarter interception return, and when Glennon found Tiquan Underwood for an 85-yard TD in the fourth quarter, the Bucs took a 24-21 lead. Turned out that was enough.

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