DETROIT FREE PRESS

New Orleans, Louisiana - September 13, 2009

The Detroit Lions headed into the "Big Easy" for the first week of the new season hoping to gave an ounce of redemption after becoming the first team to go 0-16 since the league extended the schedule to 16 games.

They came in poised after a 2-1-1 start in the preseason, but Head Coach Jim Schwartz said he was a little concerned about having rookie Matt Stafford on the bench after breaking his hand in the third preseason game.

"We're all a little on edge right now," the coach said of the Lions' first-round draft pick this year. "I think out of everyone, Matt's taking it the hardest. He really wants to be out there helping the team any way he can. For now, he's going to make the best of the injury and learn as much as he can until his hand heals."

In the meantime, Drew Stanton - who had made a name for himself as a standout at Michigan State - was awarded the starting job over Dante Cullpepper after an impressive showing during the summer. He finished the game six-for-12 with 163 yards passing, zero TDs and one INT. His counterpart from the Saints - the league's best passer last year - Drew Brees finished the game 10-of-16 for 230 yards and two TDs.

The game started off with a flash as Adam Jennings of the Lions returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown to put Detroit up 7-0. The was stayed that way until early in the third quarter when Brees connected with Skyler Green for 66 yards and his first TD of the game. "It was amazing," Green say after the game. "The sound of that crowd after we tied the game was just awesome."

The fourth quarter saw the most action of the day as Jason Hanson started off with 40 yard field goal to put the Lions up 10-7. But, as he's shown he could do in the past, Drew Brees led the Saints down the field for a John Carney field goal to tie things up with under three minutes remaining in the game. Detroit got the ball got, but fumbled the ball away after three plays. Feeling the tide turn in their favor, the Saints just needed one play to jump ahead as Brees connected with Devey Henderson for 58 yards and his second TD of the game, putting New Orleans up 17-10.

However, Jim Schwartz wasn't going to let this game slip away from him or his team. The Lions got the ball back with just two minutes to go in the game and marched down the field in three plays as Aveion Cason was able to cross the goaline with his first rushing TD of the season, tying the game at 17.

But, with 1:09 on the clock, the Lions left enough time for Drew Brees to lead the offensive down the field. It didn't help the defense much that they were called for roughing the quarterback, which put the Saints closer to field goal range. After an eight-yard run by Reggie Bush and a false start call against the offensive, John Carney lined up and hit the 38-yard game-winning field goal with just three seconds remaining.

After a squib kick and short return from the Lions, the final whistle blew and the Lions continued their losing ways in the regular season, dropping their 17th straight game 20-17. Coach Schwartz said that he was impressed by his team's work ethic, but said there were still things that needed to be improved on before heading home to take on division rival Minnesota next week.

DETROIT 7 0 0 10 17
NEW ORLEANS 0 0 7 13 20