Lions 23, Buccaneers 20, OT
The Detroit Lions erased some painful memories by ending the
longest road losing streak in NFL history.
Dave Rayner’s third field goal, a 34-yarder with 9:51 left in
overtime, gave Detroit a 23-20 victory over the Tampa Bay
Buccaneers and stopped a three-year skid at 26 games on Sunday.
”It’s really not a relief, but it’s important for this team to
win on the road,” second-year coach Jim Schwartz said.
”What’s happened two years ago, what happened last year, three
years ago, whatever it was, isn’t important to this football team
right now,” Schwartz added. ”Winning is important to this
football team right now. Winning on the road is a step that we
needed to take.”
Rayner kicked a 28-yarder as time expired in regulation to force
the extra period. The Lions took the overtime kickoff and drove 63
yards – covering most of the distance on two big runs and a 12-yard
reception by Calvin Johnson on third-and-8 – to set up the
The Lions (4-10) triumphed on the road for the first time since
Oct. 28, 2007, when they won 16-7 at Chicago.
”It feels great to be on the road, get a win and go back on the
plane and have a good week,” Johnson said. ”It’s definitely good
to bury that.”
At the same time, Detroit dealt a blow to Tampa Bay’s playoff’s
The Bucs, who had been 5-0 in games decided by three points or
fewer, failed to take advantage of a loss by the New York Giants –
one of the teams they’re chasing in the wild-card race – by losing
for the first time in nine tries against an opponent with a losing
”It hurts just to know what we had in front of us,” Tampa Bay
running Cadillac Williams said. ”We need a lot of help, but I’ve
seen a lot of weird things in this league.”
The Bucs (8-6) kicked the second of two fourth-quarter field
goals to go ahead 20-17 with 1:39 remaining left in regulation.
”Are they still in the playoffs?” said Lions center Dominic
Raiola, whose younger brother, Donovan, is a backup center with
Tampa Bay. ”Are they getting ready, making vacation plans now,
like us? I hope so.”
Drew Stanton completed 23 of 37 passes for 252 yards, one
touchdown for the Lions. Johnson finished with 10 receptions for
152 yards, becoming the first Detroit player with two seasons with
at least 1,000 yards and 12 or more TD receptions.
Maurice Morris rushed for 109 yards, including a 26-yard burst
on the first play of overtime. Jahvid Best ran for 14 on the next
play for a first down at the Bucs 39.
Three plays later, Johnson reached high to make his last catch
of the day, barely keeping his feet inbound on the sideline at
”I can’t help but think that this is a game that we maybe don’t
win early in the season,” Schwartz said. ”We’re becoming a
battle-hardened team. This is a franchise that hasn’t been used to
playing a lot of close games, and this year we have. We’ve learned
from a lot of those.”
Stanton threw a 10-yard TD pass to Nate Burleson in the first
quarter and Morris scored on a 10-yard run early in the third
quarter to give Detroit a 17-14 lead that held until Josh Freeman
brought Tampa Bay back with what seemed like would be another
successful fourth-quarter rally.
The Lions forced the Bucs to settle for a field goal that made
it 17-17 after Freeman led his team to a first-and-goal at the
Tampa Bay hurt itself with Kellen Winslow drawing an offensive
pass interference penalty that nullified what would have been a
go-ahead 2-yard TD reception by the tight end.
Undeterred, Freeman led the Bucs to another field goal on their
next possession, handing a 20-17 lead to a defense that suddenly
was unable to slow down Stanton, who was making his third start in
place of the injured Matthew Stafford.
Johnson also figured prominently in both of Detroit’s first-half
scoring drives with receptions of 20 and 16 yards to set up
Stanton’s TD pass to Burleson.
Johnson also had receptions of 30 yards and 17 yards to help the
Lions get into position for Rayner’s 41-yard field goal that
trimmed Tampa Bay’s lead to 14-10.
At 6-foot-6 and nearly 250 pounds, Freeman is one of the biggest
and strongest quarterbacks in the NFL. The Lions sacked him three
times, but the second-year pro also used his strength and mobility
to turn potential negative plays into positive ones.
Tampa Bay’s LeGarrette Blount broke a tackle and rambled for 39
yards for a second-quarter touchdown, one play after Freeman
somehow managed to get off a pass with Lions rookie Ndamukong Suh
draped around him and fullback Earnest Graham turned it into a
14-yard gain into Detroit territory.
Freeman, who has led an NFL-leading five fourth-quarter
comebacks this season, completed 21 of 32 passes for 251 yards and
one touchdown – a 24-yard throw to Mike Williams, who set a
franchise record for rookies with his eighth TD.
Blount finished with 110 yards rushing on 15 attempts.
”It’s rough to lose a close game like that, to lose a game that
we felt like we definitely should have won,” Freeman said. ”But
it’s not a death blow, I guess, from a mathematical
Notes: Neither team had a turnover. … The Lions averaged 6.5
yards per carry on the way to rushing for 181 yards … Williams,
who leads NFL rookies in reception yardage, finished with six
catches for 96 yards.