DETROIT – The New Orleans Saints overcame a two-touchdown deficit to beat Detroit – and that wasn't the only challenge they had to overcome on short rest Sunday.
Drew Brees threw two touchdown passes to Tre'Quan Smith 2:19 apart in the second quarter to help the short-handed Saints rally to beat the Lions 35-29.
“Everybody just persevered and we found a way to get a big win,” Brees said.
New Orleans (2-2) played after a short night of sleep, coming off its first two-game losing streak in three years and started the game without six injured starters.
Saints fullback Michael Burton had a false positive test for the coronavirus Saturday, leading to another round of tests for players and staff overnight in the Motor City.
“Just a lot of emotions going on because you never want to be a distraction,” Burton said. “They had to wake up other guys and test them.”
Early in the game at fan-free Ford Field, the Lions (1-3) looked as though they might take advantage of facing a tired team without three starters on both sides of the ball as they led 14-0 just 4:37 after kickoff.
In the end, Detroit earned the dubious distinction of being the first NFL team to lose six straight games in which it led by double digits, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The Lions also joined the 2011 Minnesota Vikings as the two teams in league history to lose three of their first four games after leading by at least 10 points.
New Orleans was the latest team to come back against Detroit, scoring 35 straight points from late in the first period to midway through the third to take control.
“I'm proud of how we got ready to play despite some of the challenges,” Saints coach Sean Payton said.
Matthew Stafford ended the Saints' run with a TD pass to T.J. Hockenson late in the third quarter. The Lions pulled within six points with 3:36 left in the fourth on Adrian Peterson's 5-yard run and Hockenson's 2-point conversion catch.
The Saints took a step toward sealing the win with Brees converting a third-and-5 from his 27 with a 19-yard pass to Smith.
“That was probably the biggest play of the day,” Smith said.