Bush, defensive line lead Lions over Vikings 34-24
Reggie Bush's first carry went for a nifty 12-yard gain, and the crowd at Ford Field couldn't wait to show its approval:
''Reg-gie! Reg-gie! Reg-gie!''
Bush's debut in Detroit was everything the Lions hoped for when they signed the elusive running back during the offseason. Although Adrian Peterson scored three touchdowns for Minnesota, it was Bush who was the biggest star Sunday, accounting for 191 total yards in the Lions' 34-24 win over the Vikings.
''I think you saw a little bit of what's to come in the future,'' Bush said.
Peterson's 78-yard touchdown run opened the scoring on Minnesota's first offensive play, but the Lions took the lead shortly after halftime, and Bush's 77-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter put Detroit up 27-17. Both teams made mistakes throughout, but it was the Lions who looked far more dangerous offensively.
That was largely because of Bush, who the Lions hoped would provide some balance alongside an impressive passing game that includes quarterback Matthew Stafford and receiver Calvin Johnson.
Bush passed his first test, and so did the Lions.
Here are five reasons Detroit opened the season with a win over its NFC North rival:
1. RUNNING ROOM: There was plenty of it for Bush, whether he was running the ball or catching passes out of the backfield.
Bush's 77-yard touchdown catch came on a dump-off over the middle, which he turned into a long gain. The Vikings did a solid job against Johnson, holding him to four catches for 37 yards, but Bush had all sorts of open space.
''It makes a difference, having a guy that they can throw underneath with,'' Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. ''It wasn't like they threw balls over the top of our defense. We didn't do a good job on the screens and the underneath stuff that they did.''
2. MISSED OPPORTUNITIES: There were a bunch - for both teams. The Lions blew an easy field goal try on the opening drive because of a botched hold. They also had a touchdown called back on an interception because Ndamukong Suh was called for an illegal block during the return.
Detroit settled for a field goal after a fourth-down conversion was wiped out because of a penalty. The Lions committed 11 penalties for 88 yards in the game.
But the Vikings had miscues of their own, including three interceptions and a fumble - and a couple of costly third-down penalties on Detroit's final touchdown drive.
''I'm not going to apologize for any win. We won this football game,'' Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. ''There are a lot of positives in this game, we were resilient, we played hard, we played physical and we went out and beat a playoff team at home in the opener. I'm not going to apologize for anything this team did.''
3. CONTROLLING THE LINE: After allowing Peterson's early touchdown, the Lions did a good job against him the rest of the game. The defensive front was impressive against the run and the pass, with defensive tackle Nick Fairley contributing 1 1/2 sacks.
Fairley, Suh and rookie defensive end Ziggy Ansah were all active - a good sign for a unit that's had potential for a while.
''We knew coming to the game that the battle was going to be won up front,'' Peterson said. ''I felt like as an offense, focusing on our side, we've just got to clean up. We've got to be more technique-sound.''
4. PONDER'S PROBLEMS: Minnesota's Christian Ponder was intercepted three times and was also charged with a crucial fourth-quarter fumble on an exchange with Peterson.
Not a good start for a quarterback who still has a lot to prove. The Vikings have a star running back in Peterson, but Ponder will have to play better in the future for Minnesota to be successful.
''They overcame adversity better than we did,'' Ponder said. ''They are a good defense. They have a lot of talent. They don't really disguise anything - they are what they are - but they have a lot of talent so they can get away with it.''
5. HOLDING THEIR OWN: Detroit had to replace both starting offensive tackles after Jeff Backus retired and Gosder Cherilus left via free agency. Riley Reiff and Jason Fox stepped in Sunday, and although Fox hurt his groin, the Lions were able to contain pass-rushing star Jared Allen.
''We were horrible on first and second downs,'' Allen said. ''When we're in second-and-short, third-and-short, know we're guessing, know the defense is on its heels and we are allowing them to dictate what they can do.''
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org