The Detroit Lions took the opening kickoff and got underway at their own 20-yard line after a touchback. Kevin Smith and Calvin Johnson, both listed on the injury report this past week, got things started for the Lions. Smith picked up seven yards on the ground, and then Johnson snagged 22-yard reception, breaking a couple tackles en route. Detroit did face an early third down though, when the lined up for 3rd and 2 following an end-around to Titus Young. They were assessed a penalty for having too many men in the huddle, so they took a 3rd and 7.
But Young struck again, catching a 15-yard reception and converting the third down. Then it was Young again, picking up 11 yards and another first down. Right outside of the red-zone, it was Johnson again on first down, catching a pass for 12 yards and setting Detroit up in scoring position. From 10 yards out, Matthew Stafford hit Will Heller over the middle for ten yards and a touchdown, taking a 7-0 lead following the extra point.
Drew Brees then led the Saints onto the field and, wouldn't you know it, picked up where left off. On first down, he hit Devery Henderson for 23 yards and, obviously, a first down. Darren Sproles and Chris Ivory then combined for another 32 yards for a couple more Saints first downs. But Detroit stepped up and made a fumble, when Marques Colston caught a 13-yard pass from Brees. Justin Durant recovered it and Detroit took back over.
Facing an early third down on their second drive, the Lions ran an end-around with Nate Burleson, who had to dive, but he picked up the yard and Detroit picked up a first down. After converting another third down, the Detroit drive stalled out around midfield, when Stafford missed Johnson deep on 3rd and 11, so they were forced to punt.
The Saints took back over, and were stuffed on two consecutive plays, bringing up a third down. Brees dumped it off to Pierre Thomas, who was grabbed a few yards short of the first, but he jumped somehow and got the first. Then he took a rush for 31 yards and the Saints were set up in the red zone. Detroit held them twice, but Sproles was able to take it into the endzone to tie the game following an extra point at the start of the second period.