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Defense Stands Tall When It Counts Most

DETROIT -- The stat sheet isn't pretty.

Thirty two points. Fifteen of them in the fourth quarter. Four hundred and forty four total yards.

But the Eagles defense stood tall when it mattered the most as Shaun Hill's last-minute, fourth-down attempt to tight end Tony Scheffler was broken up by cornerback Joselio Hanson to secure a 35-32 win Sunday at Ford Field.

"It was what you call nerve-wracking," Hanson said. "It's a play I'm going to remember for a long time. He ran a good route, but I happened to beat him. It was fourth down, I knew we needed one more play."

The Eagles led 35-17 after LeSean McCoy's 46-yard touchdown run with 6:17 remaining. Jahvid Best scored his third touchdown of the game and then Calvin Johnson, quiet all afternoon with four catches for 50 yards total, scored on a 19-yard touchdown toss and for dessert scored on the two-point conversion. After a successful onside kick, the Lions had one final chance. But four incomplete passes by Hill ended any hope of a miraculous comeback.

"It doesn't matter how ugly it was or how pretty it was," said linebacker Ernie Sims, a former Lion who won for the first time in 30 games that he started. "It all came down to a win."

The Lions had success moving the ball early with Best, a rookie first-round pick, both on the ground and through the air. Best scored on a 75-yard screen pass in the second quarter as he broke through the Eagles' zone coverage to give the Lions a 10-point edge.

The Lions were taking advantage of the Eagles' eagerness to get downhill and countered that with a lot of misdirection. However, in the second half, the Eagles put the clamps down as they made adjustments to slow down Best.

"I think we saw every run in the book in the first half," said linebacker Omar Gaither. "We came out in the second half, did a few things differently and we were able to stop the run a little more."

And as good as Best was, he couldn't convert a third-and-1 followed by a fourth-and-1 early in the fourth quarter as Quintin Mikell and Juqua Parker, respectively, made the stops.

"It was more about pride on the defensive side of the ball," defensive tackle Mike Patterson said. "It was a fourth-and-1 situation and we just wanted to go out there and stop them. It worked out for us."

The Eagles got comfortable with the big lead, but survived for the first win of the season against a hungry, young team.

"It's human nature to come off the gas a little bit. We didn't do a good job down the stretch," defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said. "Now, there's a lot to be happy about. Are we satisfield, absolutely not? We've got a lot of things to address and we're going to address them."

-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 6:22 p.m., September 19

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