Reggie Bush gave the Detroit Lions exactly what they were looking for when they signed him as a free agent in the offseason.
Bush turned a short pass into a 77-yard touchdown in the third quarter and finished with 191 yards of offense to help Detroit pull away to beat the Minnesota Vikings 34-24 Sunday.
The Lions overcame a slew of miscues on offense, defense and special teams.
The Vikings also made their share of mistakes, especially Christian Ponder, who threw three interceptions and lost a fumble.
Adrian Peterson ran for a 78-yard TD on his first carry and scored on a 4-yard run to give Minnesota a 14-6 lead in the second. He finished with 93 yards rushing on 18 attempts.
At least on opening day, Bush was the speedy running back the Lions haven’t had since Jahvid Best had his career ended by concussions. Detroit released him this year because he hasn’t been able to play since 2011.
Fans at Ford Field have already become big fans of Bush, chanting ”Reg-gie! Reg-gie!” much like crowds at the Silverdome used to shout ”Bar-ry! Bar-ry!” for Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders.
The Lions made adding the former Miami and New Orleans running back a priority and he showed why right away. He ran 21 times for 90 yards and caught four passes for 101 yards and a score, proving the eight-year veteran still has plenty of speed.
Joique Bell ran for two TDs, including a go-ahead score that gave the Lions their first lead early in the third quarter.
Matthew Stafford was 28 of 43 for 357 yards with two TDs, including a 1-yard lob to rookie tight end Joseph Fauria with 6:47 left that sealed the win. Calvin Johnson was held to four catches for 37 yards and had a TD negated by review because he appeared to lose control of the football in the end zone.
Ponder was 18 of 28 for 236 yards with a 4-yard TD pass to Peterson that got Minnesota within three late in the third quarter. Jerome Simpson had seven receptions and 140 yards receiving for the Vikings.
The Lions finished strong, outscoring the Vikings 28-10 after an awful start.
Detroit botched a field-goal attempt on the opening drive when rookie holder Sam Martin dropped a perfect snap.
One snap later, Peterson ran through a hole, shifted his shoulders to the left – prompting rookie defensive back Darius Slay to do a face plant into the turf – juked to the right and outraced the rest of the defense on the fourth-longest run of his career.
After choosing to kick on a fourth-and-1, Detroit coach Jim Schwartz went for it with the same down and distance on their next drive only to have Bell’s fourth-down run negated by Brandon Pettigrew’s holding penalty, forcing him to settle for another field goal.
The Lions looked as if they were going to take their first lead two snaps later when linebacker DeAndre Levy returned an interception for a TD, but Ndamukong Suh was called for an illegal low block against center John Sullivan, who was well behind the play, and Stafford threw an interception on the next play.
Minnesota took advantage on the ensuing drive, going ahead 14-6 on Peterson’s short burst after running through Slay’s right arm.
Martin then shanked a punt – adding a miscue to another phase of the game for Detroit – and Lions defensive back Bill Bentley dropped what would’ve likely have been an interception for a score.
Pettigrew fumbled on another drive in the second quarter before Ponder gave the ball back with another interception. The Lions made the most of the opportunity, thanks to a rule that went their way.
Bell leaped over a pile and extended his arms with the football that was jarred loose by the Vikings, but video review showed the ball got to the goal line. Bell’s spinning, 1-yard run – one play after Bush’s TD was overturned by review – in the third quarter gave the Lions their first lead and they rolled to a relatively easy win.