DETROIT - Matthew Stafford's last-minute pass to Theo Riddick gave Detroit its latest comeback victory -- and allowed the Lions to avoid another nerve-wracking field goal with the game on the line.
Stafford threw an 11-yard pass to Riddick with 29 seconds remaining to lift the Lions to a 20-16 win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. Calvin Johnson had seven catches for 113 yards and a touchdown in his first game back from an ankle injury, and the Lions (7-2) won their fourth straight game.
Detroit's past three victories have been by a combined six points, all with fourth-quarter comebacks.
The Dolphins (5-4) managed one touchdown after they blocked a Detroit field goal attempt and returned it deep into Lions territory. Miami's Ryan Tannehill threw for 215 yards, but it was Stafford who made the final big play, snapping a sidearm pass to a sliding Riddick in the back left corner of the end zone.
Miami took a 16-13 lead with 4:19 remaining on a 20-yard field goal by Caleb Sturgis. It was the second time the Dolphins settled for three points near the Detroit goal line. The Lions had to punt, but they forced Miami to do the same, and Stafford still had 3:13 left when Detroit took over on its 26.
Stafford completed his first five passes of the drive before a third down from the Miami 27. Stafford found Golden Tate for a completion ruled a first down and upheld on video review, bringing the Lions even closer to the end zone.
Finally, on third down from the 11, Stafford scrambled a bit to his left and threw to Riddick, the 5-foot-9 running back who slipped behind Reshad Jones in the end zone.
Detroit squandered an early 10-0 lead and fell behind after yet another kicking mishap. Ahead 10-6 in the third quarter, Matt Prater's 42-yard attempt was blocked by Earl Mitchell. Dion Jordan's 58-yard return put the ball at the Detroit 3. Tannehill threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace.
It was the second blocked field goal of the season for Miami, which has also blocked two punts.
Prater made a 50-yard kick early in the fourth quarter, but the Lions are still only 11 of 22 on field goals this season. They won their previous game over Atlanta on Prater's last-second kick in London -- but that came after a miss was negated by a delay of game on Detroit.
The Lions outgained Miami 121-1 in building their early lead. But the game quickly turned into the type of low-scoring struggle expected between the top-ranked defense in each conference. Detroit's early touchdown came when Stafford found Johnson deep over the middle in single coverage. With a 7-inch height advantage over cornerback Brent Grimes, Johnson hauled in the pass in for a 49-yard score while Grimes tumbled to the ground behind him.
Detroit had a great chance to add to the lead in the second quarter after James Ihedigbo intercepted Tannehill and returned it deep into Miami territory. But a facemask penalty pushed the ball back to the Miami 31, and on the next play, Stafford threw toward Johnson. Grimes made a spectacular interception, reaching up with his right hand and pulling the ball in as he fell backward into the end zone.