Detroit Lions keep playoff hopes alive with another late win
By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
ALLEN PARK — The Detroit Lions have earned the right to keep their hopes of making the playoffs for at least another week.
Perhaps fittingly, they did it by making enough plays late in a game to win.
Detroit ended its second losing streak this season, going 49 yards to set up Matt Prater’s 46-yard field goal to beat Tampa Bay 24-21 Sunday.
In Jim Caldwell’s four seasons, the Lions lead the league with 20 wins on drives in the fourth quarter or overtime.
“The biggest thing is they are not daunted by some huge task and adversity,” Caldwell said Monday. “They use it more as a friend than a foe.”
Detroit (7-6) faces Chicago (4-9) at home Saturday, aiming to close the regular season strong enough to stay in postseason contention.
The Lions will have to win their next three games and get some — or a lot — of help to reach the playoffs for the second straight time and third overall under Caldwell.
Carolina (9-4), New Orleans (9-4) and Atlanta (8-5) are all ahead of them in the NFC, and they all beat Detroit to own a potential tiebreaker.
Detroit’s best chance to beat the Bears, win at Cincinnati and defeat Green Bay at home is to protect quarterback Matthew Stafford as well as it did against the Buccaneers.