INDIANAPOLIS — Detroit Lions kicker Matt Prater just wanted a second chance Sunday.
Matthew Stafford ensured he got it — and Prater delivered with a 43-yard field goal that gave the Lions a wild 39-35 victory at Indianapolis.
Just four minutes earlier, after Stafford had broken a 28-28 tie with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Theo Riddick, Prater pushed the extra point wide right. So it was 34-28, opening the door for Colts quarterback Andrew Luck to pull off another comeback.
Instead, Prater got a shot at redemption and the Lions never doubted him.
“To see him bounce back is huge,” coach Jim Caldwell said. “When you miss like that, the second one can be difficult. But he has an unusual focusing ability.”
Stafford played brilliantly, going 31 of 39 for 340 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Somehow, Luck nearly rallied the Colts from an 18-point deficit to another last-minute victory when he threw a 6-yard TD pass to Jack Doyle with 37 seconds to go. It rekindled memories of the winning TD pass he threw at Detroit four years ago.
Adam Vinatieri’s extra point gave Indy a 35-34 lead.
But against Indy’s depleted secondary, Stafford found receivers who turned short catches into big gains. Four plays later, Prater got his chance, and he hit it right.
“We made a lot of plays, and we just ran out of gas (on defense),” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “We just couldn’t make that one more play that we needed to make.”
Indy was called for a safety on the final play of the game, for throwing an illegal forward pass in its end zone.
LUCK’S RETURN: In Luck’s first meaningful game in more than 10 months, he started slowly and finished strong, as he usually does.
Luck wound up 31 of 47 for 385 yards with four touchdowns and had no turnovers — a stark contrast to his mistake-prone ways during an injury-riddled 2015 season.
KEY NUMBERS: Detroit averaged a league-low 83.4 yards rushing per game in 2015 but had 87 at halftime and finished with 116.
Frank Gore rushed 14 times for 59 yards, but the Colts extended their streak of consecutive games without a 100-yard rusher to 51.
SLOW START: Indianapolis spent the offseason looking for ways to start faster. The results didn’t match the effort. Indy trailed 14-0 before Luck finally got in sync by finishing the first half with two scoring drives to make it 21-10.
OLYMPIC MOMENT: For the second straight day, Olympic gold medalist Lilly King received the loudest ovation of the Indiana contingent that competed at the Rio Olympics. On Saturday, Indiana University honored the Hoosiers who competed between the first and second quarters. On Sunday, the reaction was the same at halftime of Lions-Colts.
INJURY REPORT: Detroit running back Theo Riddick left for a while to undergo the concussion protocol, but returned late in the game after being cleared.
Indy had three defenders go down on one series late in the first half: safety T.J. Green (sprained knee), cornerback Patrick Robinson (concussion), and linebacker Sio Moore. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie also left briefly in the first half, holding his left wrist. Moore and Cromartie returned. Green and Robinson did not, and Green is scheduled to undergo more evaluation Monday. Safety Winston Guy (ankle) also left late in the game and did not return.
THEY SAID IT: Stafford on his confidence in Prater: “No sweat. I knew he would be good from 65.”
Luck on another slow start: “I’m tired of being a part of slow starts. … We’ve got to start faster.”
FANTASY IMPACT: Riddick had a big day for Detroit and even better one for fantasy football owners. He rushed seven times for 45 yards and one touchdown while catching five passes for 63 yards and another TD.
Owners in need of tight ends in Week 2 may want to gamble on the Colts tight ends. Dwayne Allen caught four passes for 53 yards and one TD, while two of Doyle’s three catches went for TDs.