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Safety, fumble return fuel Detroit

8/9/2003

DETROIT (AP) -- Steve Mariucci is off to a winning start in
Detroit.

Joey Harrington threw a touchdown pass to Scotty Anderson in the
final seconds of the first half to give Detroit the lead, and the
Lions beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 26-13 Saturday to give Mariucci
a victory in his debut.

Mariucci, let go from San Francisco after going 60-43 in six
seasons, returned to his home state in February, replacing Marty
Mornhinweg, who was fired after going 5-27 in two seasons.

Mariucci drew a loud cheer when he was introduced to the crowd
at Ford Field and never gave the long-suffering Lions fans a reason
to boo.

While Detroit doubled Pittsburgh's score, the Lions weren't
impressive against the Steelers' first-string units.

Detroit's offense produce its first points against reserves, and
the Lions' defense was fortunate Tommy Maddox under-threw Plaxico
Burress twice on potential touchdowns.

Maddox was 5-of-10 for 54 yards, with three passes for 45 yards
to Burress. Jerome Bettis gained 19 yards on eight carries.

Punter John Jett was one of Detroit's assets when both teams had
their best players in the game. Jett pinned the Steelers on their
2-yard line -- leading to Barrett Green's sack for a safety -- 9 and
6 in the first quarter.

Harrington, playing in his first game since being sidelined with
an irregular heartbeat in December, was lackluster until the final
drive of the first half.

With 1:46 left and 80 yards away from the end zone, Harrington
showed the poise and talent Detroit envisioned when it drafted him
third overall last year.

Harrington started the drive with consecutive first-down passes
and later threaded a pass over one defender and in front of another
to rookie David Kircus for a 22-yard gain that set up the go-ahead
score.

Harrington lofted a 13-yard pass to the corner of the end zone
to Anderson, who grabbed the ball away from former Lion Chidi
Iwuoma.

Harrington completed 13 of 25 passes for 136 yards and a
touchdown. Anderson, who is battling Shawn Jefferson for a spot on
the roster, caught four passes for 49 yards and a TD. Bill
Schroeder made four receptions for 40 yards.

Receiver Charles Rogers, the second pick in the draft, did not
play. Last week, he needed two stitches to close an open
dislocation in his right ring finger.

Backup quarterback Mike McMahon gave the Lions a 16-6 lead with
a spinning, 1-yard run on the first drive of the second half.
McMahon was 7-of-17 for 64 yards and ran for 26 yards.

Detroit's defense scored for the second time in the game when
James Davis stripped the ball from quarterback Brian St. Pierre,
and Cory Redding scooped up the fumble and rushed in from the 6.

Pittsburgh pulled within 23-13 early in the fourth quarter when
Dante Brown ran 38 yards untouched for a touchdown on a
fourth-and-1 play.

Mark Jensen completed the scoring with a 33-yard field goal with
four minutes left.

The Steelers' first-string offense put one good drive together
after going three possessions without a first down.

Pittsburgh drove 87 yards in just under eight minutes to set up
Jeff Reed's 25-yard field goal for a 3-2 lead early in the second
quarter.

Maddox hit Burress with two 18-yard passes, but under-threw him
on a long pass near the end zone and missed on a lob in the end
zone.

Former Lions quarterback Charlie Batch, booed every time fans
heard his name, led an 11-play drive against Detroit's first-string
defense that ended with Reed's 43-yard field goal that gave
Pittsburgh a 6-2 lead in the second quarter.

Batch finished 5-of-13 for 34 yards.