Final

Steelers 34

(1-2, 1-1 away)

Lions 22

(0-3, 0-1 home)

12:30 PM ET, August 24, 2002

 

1 2 3 4 T
PIT 7 14 6 734
DET 10 6 6 022

Lions have new home, same losing result

DETROIT (AP) -- New stadium. Old result.

For the first time since 1974, the Detroit Lions actually played in the Motor City, opening Ford Field, the team's new $500 million downtown stadium.

But the debut was spoiled when Tommy Maddox, playing in place of Pittsburgh quarterback Kordell Stewart, threw two first-half touchdown passes as the Steelers beat Detroit 34-22 Saturday.

The Lions -- who have one playoff win since winning the 1957 NFL title -- fell to 0-3 in the preseason after starting 0-12 last year and finishing 2-14.

"Well, that stadium is sure nice, but the football team needs some work,'' Lions coach Marty Mornhinweg said.

Ford Field replaces the Pontiac Silverdome, which few fans will miss because of its inflatable roof, sea of concrete and lack of championships.

Pittsburgh running back Jerome Bettis, a Detroit native, left his hometown with a smile.

"This place is impressive,'' Bettis said. "It's great that the Lions are back in the city. I think it's going to generate a lot of growth in the downtown area that frankly needs it.''

While the new place -- next door to Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers -- has created a buzz among fans, city leaders and players, a stadium alone can't reverse the Lions' fortunes.

"I wish we could've won this one because we really, really wanted to start it off here on the right foot,'' Lions running back James Stewart said.

Maddox started in place of Kordell Stewart, who left last week's game against Washington with a concussion. Maddox was 9-of-23 for 150 yards and two TDs with a fumble.

Charlie Batch, whom the Lions cut in June to get rid of the three years and $10 million left on his contract, was loudly booed when he came in late in the first half, and again in the second. Batch was 7-of-15 for 117 yards with touchdowns passing and rushing.

"I was here for the groundbreaking ceremony and I always thought I would be here with the Lions when this place opened up,'' Batch said. "And the funny thing is, I was here for the opening, just not in a Lions uniform.''

Rookie Antwaan Randle El, Pittsburgh's quarterback-turned-receiver, caught three passes for 60 yards and a TD, and former Michigan State star Plaxico Burress had two receptions for 46 yards.

Detroit's quarterback competition didn't get much clearer because incumbent Mike McMahon was only average, while rookie Joey Harrington mixed in a few flashes of promise between mistakes.

McMahon was 11-of-22 for 132 yards with one TD and an interception. Harrington was 13-of-25 for 218 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the end zone on his first possession.

"Mike, as coach said, is beyond where I am right now,'' Harrington said.

Detroit's two new receivers -- Az-Zahir Hakim and Bill Schroeder -- played together for the first time and combined for six catches and 101 yards.

After hundreds of cameras flashed to capture the first kickoff and first play at Ford Field, the Lions drove 74 yards on eight plays, capped by McMahon's 1-yard pass to James Stewart.

On Pittsburgh's second play, Detroit's Luther Elliss stripped the football away from Maddox and Robert Porcher recovered. Jason Hanson's 34-yard field goal put the Lions ahead 10-0.

"They came out with a flurry, and we didn't do a good job handling that,'' Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher said. "But we settled down later.''

Bettis scored on a 1-yard run on the ensuing possession, after Burress caught a 41-yard pass.

The Steelers went ahead 14-10 early in the second quarter when Randle El caught a short curl, made a couple moves and ran for a 29-yard score.

"He's a special player,'' Cowher said.

On the first possession of the second half, Batch lobbed a screen pass to Amos Zereoue, who zigzagged through the Lions' first-string defense for a 39-yard TD to put the Steelers ahead 27-16 on the first possession of the second half.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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