DETROIT — Matthew Stafford started slow, getting sacked on his first snap and throwing a pick on his second drive.
He bounced back and threw three touchdown passes in the second half to help the Detroit Lions come back and beat the winless Cleveland Browns 38-24 Sunday.
The Lions (5-4) rallied from first- and second-half deficits to earn consecutive victories for the first time since winning the first two games this season.
“I’ve had a lot of bad situations,” Stafford said. “I knew there was a whole lot more time left.”
Browns coach Hue Jackson may be running out of time to save his job.
Cleveland (0-9) is headed toward NFL infamy a year after losing the first 14 games in Jackson’s debut season and finishing 1-15.
Jackson is 1-24, a 25-game record since 1960 that is better than only Tampa Bay’s John McKay 0-25 mark.
After the Lions became the only team to go 0-16 in 2008, they drafted Stafford No. 1 overall and he has done enough for the franchise to get the richest contract in the league.
In Stafford’s latest comeback win, he was 17 of 26 for 249 yards with three TD passes and an interception.
After trailing by seven, Stafford threw an 8-yard pass to Theo Riddick for a TD, had the scoring toss to Ebron and a screen pass to Golden Tate that he turned into a 40-yard score to put Detroit up 38-24 with 4:36 to go.
“There are no easy wins in this league,” Detroit coach Jim Caldwell said.
The Browns looked as if they might finally win when they led 10-0, giving them their first double-digit lead of the season, and again as they led 24-17 in the third quarter after DeShone Kizer led two consecutive touchdown drives.
Cleveland’s chances were hurt when Kizer took a shot to the ribs by blitzing defensive back Quandre Diggs late in the third and didn’t return until late in the game.
In the final seconds of the first half, the Browns blew a chance to score when the clock ran out when they had no timeouts left at the Detroit 2 after their rookie quarterback was stopped on a run that wasn’t called in the huddle.
“DeShone took it upon himself to sneak it, which is not a bad thing to do,” Cleveland tight end Seth DeValve said.
Kizer, who came back to play late in the fourth, completed 21 of 37 passes for 232 yards with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Britt in the first quarter. Kizer ran seven times for 57 yards, including a go-ahead, 1-yard run with 6:01 left in the third.
He converted three fourth downs with throws on his final drive before getting picked off by Darius Slay in the end zone with 1:19 remaining.
“I thought DeShone played his best game,” Jackson said. “We had an NFL quarterback on the field today in every way. He was making plays and he was leading the team. Is he perfect? No, but this was the best version of him that we’ve seen this year.”
Isaiah Crowell had a season-high 90 yards and a score that pulled the Browns into a 17-all tie in the third. Kizer had a 20-yard run, helping him outrush Duke Johnson who had 54 yards on 10 carries. Cleveland had a season-high 201 yards rushing and three players with 50-plus yards on the ground for the first time in a game since 1974.
Detroit’s Ameer Abdullah ran for 52 yards on 11 carries, Theo Riddick had 35 yards rushing on four attempts and both had a run of 20-plus yards. Stafford made some key plays with his legs, gaining 17 yards on four runs.
Browns: LB Jamie Collins left the game with a knee injury when he intercepted a pass early in the game and wasn’t cleared to play. RT Shon Coleman (concussion) and TE Randall Telfer (eye) were also hurt during the game. While Kizer was out, Cody Kessler was 1 of 3 for 5 yards in relief.
Lions: RB Dwayne Washington left the game with a hip injury after picking up a first down on a 10-yard catch in the fourth quarter. LT Taylor Decker made his season debut, coming back from shoulder surgery. Decker appeared to have his snap count limited, leading to him spending some time on the sideline when Detroit had the ball. DE Ezekiel Ansah was inactive with a back injury.
Browns: Host the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
Lions: Visit the Chicago Bears on Sunday.