Lions lead Saints 14-10 at half of NFC playoff

By Paul Newberry

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Jan. 7 2012 7:56 p.m. MST

Detroit won 10 games and made the playoffs just three seasons after a historic 0-16 campaign. The Lions were led by Stafford, who became only the fourth quarterback in NFL history to eclipse 5,000 yards passing in a single season, and receiver Johnson, the league leader with 1,681 yards receiving. The towering receiver also led the NFC with 16 TD catches.

Just as the Saints were an inspiration to hurricane-ravaged New Orleans, the Lions have boosted morale in Michigan, a state synonymous with economic hardship.

The Lions, seeking their first playoff victory since 1991, were a 10-point underdog but gave New Orleans one of its tougher games this season, losing 31-17 on Dec. 4. The outcome might have been closer if not for a slew of penalties that cost the Lions more than 100 yards; they also played without ferocious defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, safety Louis Delmas and cornerback Chris Houston, all back for the playoffs.

The LSU band got a big cheer when it played at halftime, two nights before the top-ranked Tigers and No. 2 Alabama face off in the BCS championship game on the same field.

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