DETROIT (AP) — Jared Goff threw two touchdown passes and The Detroit Lions defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-23 Sunday in a postseason divisional round game, leading the long-suffering franchise to the NFC Championship Game for the first time in 32 years.
The Lions (14-5) have won two playoff games this season for the first time since 1957, the last year they won an NFL title. YesThey will face San Francisco, the top seed in the NFC, next Sunday for a ticket to the Super Bowl — a game they have never played in before.
Jahmyr Gibbs drove through a gaping hole for a 31-yard tie-breaking score early in the fourth quarter, And Goff converted it into a two-touchdown touchdown. When he connected with Amon-Ra St. Brown scored on a nine-yard pass with 6:22 remaining in the game.
Baker Mayfield caught three touchdown passes for Tampa Bay (10-9), including a 16-yarder to Mike Evans that brought the Bucs within one score with 4:37 remaining. Detroit was unable to run out the clock on its possession, giving Tampa Bay one last chance, but Mayfield's pass up the middle ended up being intercepted by linebacker Derrick Barnes, his second pass stolen from him of the day.
The Lions knelt down to run out the clock while their fans stood, shouted and waved their white towels.
“They are the best. Look around you now. They won't be leaving here for a while,” said Gauff. “It's also our last game against them and they were very special today like last week. But they deserve this. “They deserve to enjoy it and I hope to give them more as we move forward.”
Goff completed 30 of 43 passes for a total of 287 yards and efficiently led the Lions' offense in the second half, which had long possessions on three straight drives. St. Brown caught eight passes for a total of 77 yards, capping off his score with 10 slick plays and an 89-yard scoring drive.
Mayfield completed 26 of 41 passes and collected 349 yards. His early interception slipped through Mike Evans' hands, and his second was a missed pass. Evans had eight receptions for a total of 147 yards, along with a touchdown.
The Lions and their success-hungry fans hope their second appearance in the NFC title game will be better than their first, when they were swept 41-10 by Washington on Jan. 12, 1992.
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