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Detroit Lions see off Tampa Bay Buccaneers to reach NFC Championship game

Detroit Lions wide receiver Josh Reynolds celebrates with Jameson Williams and Jared Goff (Jose Juarez/AP)
Detroit Lions wide receiver Josh Reynolds celebrates with Jameson Williams and Jared Goff (Jose Juarez/AP)

The Detroit Lions advanced to the NFC Championship game for the first time since 1991 with a 31-23 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Jared Goff threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns and Jahmyr Gibbs ran for 74 yards and a score as the Lions, who have never played in a Super Bowl, set up an NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers next weekend.

Ford Field was fired up before kick-off and the atmosphere went up another notch when the first Bucs drive ended with Baker Mayfield throwing an interception into the arms of CJ Gardner-Johnson.

The two teams traded field goals before Detroit got rolling behind rookie tight end Sam LaPorta, who had three straight catches of 13, two and 15 yards to get them upfield before Goff threw a nine-yard touchdown to Josh Reynolds.

Tampa Bay responded late in the half, with Mayfield hitting Mike Evans from 29 yards to get the Bucs to the two-yard line before throwing a touchdown pass to Cade Otton.

Detroit were back on top with 3:51 left in the third quarter when they went for it fourth down from a yard out, with Craig Reynolds powering through, but Tampa Bay again found a response at the end of the quarter as an off-balance Mayfield found Rachaad White with a 12-yard touchdown.

The see-saw continued as Gibbs ran in from 31 yards to put Detroit back on top and they finally broke the pattern when Tampa Bay were forced to punt and Goff hit Amon-Ra St Brown with a perfect nine-yard touchdown pass.

The Bucs were not done yet as Evans reeled in a 16-yard touchdown pass and they had the ball back inside the final two minutes, only for Mayfield to be picked off by Derrick Barnes to spark huge celebrations in Detroit.