In a game chalked full of punts, penalties, and referee reviews the San Francisco 49ers and the Detroit Lions battled it out all afternoon at Ford Field. Detroit was out to stay undefeated, while San Francisco wanted their third road victory of the year and validation that they are for real. And in a defensive showdown in Motown, it was the 49ers who would eventually triumph, taking out the undefeated Lions by the score of 25-19.
San Francisco turned the ball over on their first offensive play of the game as Kyle Vanden Bosch stripped the ball right out of the hand of Alex Smith from behind, setting the Lions up nicely in the red zone that lead to a field goal. Brandon Pettigrew caught a short touchdown pass from Matt Stafford to make it 10-0 early, and it was looking like it might be a long afternoon.
Luckily Frank Gore sparked the Niners in the second quarter with a one yard touchdown, bringing the score to 10-7, though the war of attrition between the two defenses was just getting started. Some punts were exchanged, then rookie Aldon Smith added on to Gore's touchdown with a safety on Matt Stafford to make the score 10-9. Then of course, a couple more punts.
The Lions added a Jason Hanson field goal early in the third quarter to retake the lead 13-12, though the Niners were knocking on the door after Frank Gore opened up a 55 yard run including a 15 yard horse collar penalty on top of it. Unfortunately Delanie Walker couldn't hold on to Alex Smith's pass, leading to another David Akers field goal to make it 15-13.
Matt Stafford started the fourth quarter out with a 5 yard TD pass to Nate Burleson, but couldn't get the 2-point conversion to make it a 19-15 Detroit lead. But with less than two minutes to go Delanie Walker caught a 6 yard, 4th down touchdown pass from Alex Smith to take the 22-19 lead. David Akers would add an extra field goal late, sealing the fate of the Lions, relinquishing their 0 to the 49ers.
In a game that had 17 total punts and about 600 total yards of offense between the two, the Niners red zone defense was unbelievable, keeping the potent Detroit offense at bay most of the afternoon; and Mega Tron Calvin Johnson out of the end zone. The Niners recorded five sacks compared to the two of the storied Lions defense, though they tied the league high this year with 15 penalties for 120 yards.
The last west coast team to have three wins in the east was the 1996 Niners, who move to 5-1 for the first time since 1998. I think it's safe to say they're back.
Full box score can be found here.
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