The New Orleans Saints started the third quarter against the Detroit Lions trailing 14-10, but the deficit didn't last long, as Drew Brees hit Devery Henderson for a huge 41-yard touchdown, just one play after Robert Meachem was wide open and dropped a long bomb. Following the extra point, the Saints led 17-14 less than two minutes into the third quarter.
So Matthew Stafford and the Lions took the field again, and they started off with a 21-yard reception by Calvin Johnson. Stafford would go on to hit another receiver, for close to a first down, but the Lions were called on a holding penalty, and were forced into a 2nd and 19 situation. They tried a fake end-around, and it went nowhere, so Stafford was forced to throw the ball away, bringing up a third and long. Unable to convert, the Lions were forced to punt after a pickup of about eight yards.
Brees and the Saints started to drive again, picking up yardage in chunks. They were helped along by some more questionable calls, but the Lions eventually were able to hold them on 3rd and 1, when they stuffed Chris Ivory on a run. Or perhaps not, the Saints line up to go for it on fourth and inches, and they do - Brees takes it, leaps up in the air, extends the ball and picks up the first. New Orleans end up at midfield with a first down and a lot of momentum. Eventually, Brees hits Jimmy Graham for a beautiful touchdown pass and the Saints took a 24-14 lead.
The Lions came back out, looking to get some more points on the board. Stafford missed Titus Young deep, or rather, Young couldn't real in the spectacular catch, but then Calvin Johnson caught a big one for 21 yards while being covered by three guys. After Tony Scheffler dropped another pass, it was Johnson once again, covered by two guys, picking up a 42-yard reception and taking the ball to the two-yard line. On first down, they inch it forward to the one-yard line. On second, they're stuffed, and on third down, Stafford takes it in himself, diving for the pylon, and it's ruled a touchdown on the field. They review it, and confirm it, so the Lions come within a field goal near the end of the third quarter, after an extra point.