Patriots 20

(7-5, 4-3 away)

Lions 12

(3-9, 3-3 home)

Coverage: CBS

12:30 PM ET, November 28, 2002


1 2 3 4 T
NE 10 7 0 320
DET 3 3 3 312

Lions give too charitably to Patriots

DETROIT (AP) -- Getting a punt blocked, throwing an interception in the red zone and racking up nine penalties usually is a recipe for defeat. Unless the opponent is the Detroit Lions.

Troy Brown

Troy Brown caught 10 passes for 111 yards for the Patriots.

Antowain Smith ran for 80 yards and a touchdown, and Tedy Bruschi returned an interception 27 yards for a score as the New England Patriots beat Detroit 20-12 Thursday.

"Today wasn't one of the most attractive wins of the year,'' said New England's Troy Brown, who caught 10 passes for 111 yards. "It will be tough to win playing ugly now, because we've got three division teams coming up, and we're all fighting for a spot.''

The Patriots (7-5) have won four of five games -- after losing four straight -- to pull within half a game of AFC East-leading Miami. The Super Bowl champions play Buffalo, the New York Jets and the Dolphins at home in December.

The Lions (3-9) have dropped four straight games and lost consecutive games on Thanksgiving Day for the first time since 1992-93.

After Jason Hanson's fourth field goal cut Detroit's deficit to 20-12 with 9:46 left, the Patriots ran out the clock by driving from their 19 to the Detroit 1. Tom Brady then kneeled to end the game.

During the 17-play drive, New England was penalized twice on third-and-7 but converted both times.

In the second quarter, Brady had a chance to add to New England's 10-3 lead after Deion Branch's 63-yard kickoff return, but he threw an interception to Chris Cash at the Detroit 16. The Lions then gained 14 yards before punting.

On the Patriots' next drive, Chris Claiborne blocked a punt, but three plays later, Willie McGinest leaped for an interception at the Patriots 16.

"It was pretty even, but we were able to make the right plays at the right time,'' New England coach Bill Belichick said. "We converted turnovers, we picked up some big third-down conversions and we played good defense in the red zone. You always have to feel good when you don't give up a touchdown in this league.''

New England scored two TDs off Joey Harrington's three first-half interceptions.

"When they got a pick, they scored,'' Cash said. "When we got our pick, we didn't come up with anything.''

Brady was 18-of-30 for 210 yards with an interception and no touchdowns. Harrington, a rookie, finished 22-of-44 for 210 yards with no TD passes.

A national-television audience witnessed what those following the Lions have seen for weeks _ Harrington is struggling. He has thrown nine interceptions and five TDS in his past five games.

Chants of "Jo-ey! Jo-ey!'' at Ford Field have given way to boos for Harrington. There were even sarcastic cheers late in the first half when he threw a ball away instead of forcing a pass or taking a sack.

"It's not fun,'' Harrington said. "But they don't know what's going on like we do.''

New England needed fewer than six minutes to grab a 10-0 lead at the start of the game and never let the Lions get closer than 7.

Bruschi's interception return for a TD -- his second score of the season -- made it 10-0. The seventh-year linebacker fooled Harrington by faking a blitz and dropping back into coverage to step in front of a short pass over the middle.

Hanson's 23-yard field goal late in the first quarter capped a 13-play drive that was kept alive by a New England penalty on third down.

Bobby Hamilton's interception at the Lions 19 led to Smith's 1-yard run, which put New England ahead 17-3 with 2:24 left in the half.

Hanson's 45-yard kick late in the half moved him past Eddie Murray as the Lions' career scoring leader with 1,115 points.

Three straight drives bridging the last two quarters ended with field goals, two by Hanson and one by Adam Vinatieri. Detroit lost for just the second time in 14 games when Hanson makes four field goals.

Game notes

Bruschi, who left the game late in the first quarter, will have an MRI on his right knee this weekend. ... Detroit's Tony Semple left the game in the second quarter with a dislocated shoulder, James Stewart and Cory Schlesinger both left the game with "significant stingers,'' and Barrett Green was sidelined with a sprained left ankle. ... Harrington was Detroit's seventh starting QB in the past 11 Thanksgiving games.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Scoring Summary

Drive info: 1 plays, 23 yds, 0:00
Drive info: 1 plays, 23 yds, 0:00
neTD3:00Antowain Smith, 1 yd run
Drive info: 4 plays, 19 yds, 0:20
Drive info: 4 plays, 19 yds, 0:20
neFG10:09Adam Vinatieri 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 10 plays, 61 yds, 5:25
detFG9:51Jason Hanson 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 32 yds, 3:26
detFG0:11Jason Hanson 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 12 plays, 77 yds, 6:41
detFG4:16Jason Hanson 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 13 plays, 64 yds, 5:07
detFG0:35Jason Hanson 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 11 plays, 53 yds, 1:49
neFG13:20Adam Vinatieri 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 12 plays, 64 yds, 15:46