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Harrington struggles again as Panthers nip Lions

DETROIT (AP) -- Chris Weinke was ready when Jake Delhomme was
woozy.

Playing in his first game since 2002, Weinke threw a 3-yard
touchdown pass to Ricky Proehl with 32 seconds left to give the
Carolina Panthers a 21-20 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

Weinke relieved Delhomme, who was knocked out of the game when
he slid and was crushed by safety Kenoy Kennedy.

"I knew right when he got hit that he was going to be dazed,"
Weinke said. "I didn't have time to think about it. I had been
standing around all day. I just had to get loose. I was excited.

"You never want to see someone go down, but I've been waiting
for this opportunity for three years," he said.

The backup quarterback took over at midfield with 2:56 left and
showed remarkable poise.

Weinke connected with Proehl on a third-and-3 from Detroit's 41
and threw the TD pass to the second-string receiver one play after
Proehl dropped the ball in the end zone. Weinke completed 5-of-7
passes for 47 yards and threw his first TD pass since his rookie
year.

The 2000 Heisman Trophy winner started 15 games for the Panthers
in 2001 and threw for 2,931 yards, trailing only Peyton Manning's
rookie record, and was a seldom-used backup the next year.

The past two-plus seasons, he hadn't taken a snap.

"You don't really know if you're ready until you get the
opportunity," Weinke said. "But I felt as comfortable as I've
ever felt playing quarterback in this league."

The Lions (2-3) got the ball back at midfield with 24 seconds
left but couldn't complete a pass. On their previous possession, a
first down might've sealed the victory.

"I didn't like the way we finished the game," Detroit coach
Steve Mariucci said. "We played hard, but when we needed a first
down up six or needed a stop, we couldn't get it."

Safety Mike Minter made a play that allowed Carolina (4-2) to
win its third straight game.

Marcus Pollard caught a pass from Joey Harrington and was caught
by Minter, stopping an 86-yard gain at Carolina's 5. The Lions had
to settle for Jason Hanson's 25-yard field goal and a 20-14 lead
with 5:08 left.

"If I didn't catch him from behind, we wouldn't have had an
opportunity to win," Minter said. "That definitely ranks up there
for me with the big plays I've made."

The Lions returned two interceptions for scores in the first
half and Hanson made two field goals in the second half.

Delhomme and Harrington had three turnovers apiece early in the
third quarter. With Carolina receiver Keary Colbert's fumble and
Detroit receiver Mike Williams' fumble, the teams combined for
eight turnovers through three quarters.

"It was a game like no other," Carolina coach John Fox said.
"Our defense did a great job keeping us in the game. We hung
around and luckily, offensively we were able to come out with that
last drive."

Delhomme was 15-of-25 for 236 yards with two TDs and three
interceptions. Fox said Delhomme was "shaken up" by Kennedy's
hit, which drew a penalty.

Harrington, who was booed constantly, finished 17-of-28 for 201
yards with an interception and two fumbles.

"To boo Joey here, that's tough on him and tough on all of
us," Pollard said. "At the same time, I can sympathize with the
fans, too."

Steve Smith caught six passes for 123 yards, including an
80-yard TD. Rod Gardner had four receptions for 32 yards, including
a 4-yard TD.

Pollard had three catches for 105 yards but came up short on a
reception that would have put the Lions ahead by two scores late in
the game.

"That is one that I have to get in," he said.

The stingy defenses limited the ground games: Detroit's Kevin Jones had 21 yards rushing and Carolina's Stephen Davis had 27
yards.

"Usually, the best defense wins. Today, the luckiest defense
won," Panthers defensive tackle Brentson Buckner said. "Their
defense played better than ours."

It was tied at 14 at halftime after both teams blocked a field
goal.

Detroit's offense finally scored with 40 seconds left in the
third quarter, taking a 17-14 lead on Hanson's 52-yard kick.

Game notes
The Lions were without receiver Roy Williams (quadriceps)
and defensive end James Hall (groin) while Carolina running back
DeShaun Foster (knee), cornerback Chris Gamble (ankle) and fullback
Brad Hoover (shoulder) were also inactive. ... Carolina's Julius Peppers had one sack, his first of the season. ... The Lions
returned two interceptions for scores for the first time since
1976.