Final

Buccaneers 16

(4-3, 1-3 away)

Lions 23

(4-2, 3-0 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, October 21, 2007

Ford Field, Detroit, MI 

1 2 3 4 T
TB 0 7 0 916
DET 10 3 3 723

Top Performers

Passing: J. Garcia (TB) - 316 YDS, 2 TD

Rushing: E. Graham (TB) - 19 CAR, 92 YDS

Receiving: E. Graham (TB) - 13 REC, 99 YDS

Buccaneers' fumbles help surprising Lions move to 4-2

DETROIT (AP) -- A snap slipped through Jeff Garcia's hands, and a handoff ended up on the turf.

The Detroit Lions took advantage of both uncharacteristic miscues with touchdowns to beat their former quarterback and another NFC team with a winning record.

Calvin Johnson scored on a 32-yard run midway through the fourth quarter after Garcia's second fumble, and the spectacular play proved to be the difference in a 23-16 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

"We were our own worst enemy at crucial times," said Garcia, who hadn't turned the ball over in his first six games with the Bucs. "That's disappointing because in a game like this, it definitely came back to haunt us."

The Lions used to hurt their chances with untimely mistakes, but seem to be turning things around in Rod Marinelli's second year as coach and Matt Millen's seventh season as an executive.

Detroit (4-2) pulled within a game of idle Green Bay in the NFC North, improving to 3-0 at home.

"We have the pieces to win," said quarterback Jon Kitna, who said he would be disappointed if the Lions didn't win at least 10 games. "We just had to put it all together."

Against the Bucs, the Lions did.

Detroit ran the ball effectively and threw it efficiently. Defensively, a bend-but-don't-break defense worked well. Jason Hanson rounded out the all-around performance by making all three of his field goals.

The players passed the credit to Marinelli, giving him the game ball after he led them to a win against the team he spent a decade with as an assistant.

"He was quiet," said defensive end Dewayne White, a former Buc, who handed the game ball to Marinelli. "He accepted it, and said 'Thank you.'"

Marinelli downplayed his emotions about playing the Bucs, who gave him his first NFL job in 1996.

"Honestly, my only focus is getting the franchise turned around," he said. "That's what I'm locked in on."

Tampa Bay (4-3) lost a chance to move past idle Carolina in the NFC South, drawing the ire of Ike Hilliard.

"There's not a team that's established itself as the team to beat in the NFC," Hilliard said. "We dropped the ball on this one."

In fact, Garcia dropped two.

Garcia, who played in Detroit for one forgettable season two years ago, botched a handoff in Detroit territory in the first quarter. He also mishandled a snap on a first-and-goal when the Bucs were a yard away from pulling within two points early in the fourth.

"Those were two critical errors on my behalf that hurt," Garcia said.

Capping a 93-yard drive, Johnson broke a few tackles on an end-around to give the Lions a 23-7 lead with 6:28 left.

"That's why he was drafted No. 2 overall," Kitna said. "He stiff-armed one of the best linebackers in the league [Cato June]; made another guy [Tanard Jackson] miss; and then dragged one of the NFL's leading tacklers [Barrett Ruud] into the end zone."

But the Bucs hung around.

Garcia connected with Maurice Stovall on a 4-yard pass, then after the 2-point conversion failed, Tampa Bay got the ball back on a unique onside kick. The Bucs bunched up near the hash marks and Matt Bryant's low kick ricocheted off Jared DeVries, and Torrie Cox recovered it.

Bryant's 48-yard kick with 1:04 to go pulled Tampa Bay within seven, but its rally ended when Casey FitzSimmons recovered an onside kick.

"I'm proud of the team with the way they competed until the end of the game," Bucs coach Jon Gruden said.

Garcia finished 37-of-45 for a season-high 316 yards with two TDs and kept his streak alive without an interception, dating to last season when he was playing for Philadelphia.

Kevin Jones, getting his first start of the season, ran for 76 yards and a TD after Garcia's first fumble.

Kitna was 16-of-20 for 147 yards without a score or a turnover. His chances to make plays were limited by Tampa Bay's methodical offense.

Garcia completed 18 straight passes in the first half, setting a franchise record for consecutive completions in a game, and running back Earnest Graham had career highs with 99 yards receiving and 92 yards rushing.

He has thrown 270 passes without an interception, including attempts in the postseason last season for the Eagles, for the longest active streak.

Game notes
Overturned calls helped both QBs in the first quarter, negating fumbles, including Kitna's that was returned for a score. ... The last time the Lions started 4-2 was 2004, when they finished with six wins -- the most since Millen took control of the franchise. ... Garcia broke Steve DeBerg's franchise record for consecutive completions in a game, and tied the mark Brad Johnson set spanning two games ... Bucs KR/PR Mark Jones left in the first quarter with a knee injury. ... Garcia had his right hand wrapped after the game, but said it was fine. ... Tampa Bay WRMichael Clayton (ankle) was injured.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
TB
DET
1st Downs2717
Passing 1st downs
187
Rushing 1st downs
810
1st downs from penalties
10
3rd down efficiency
8-143-8
4th down efficiency
1-10-0
Total Plays7747
Total Yards422278
Yards per play5.55.9
Total Drives98
Passing298131
Comp-Att
37-4516-20
Yards per pass
6.25.7
Interceptions thrown
00
Sacks-Yards Lost
3-183-16
Rushing124147
Rushing Attempts
2924
Yards per rush
4.36.1
Red Zone (Made-Att)2-31-3
Penalties7-604-23
Turnovers20
Fumbles lost
20
Interceptions thrown
00
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00
Possession35:5024:10

Passing Leaders

TBC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Garcia37/453167.0203-18
DETC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Kitna16/201477.4003-16

Rushing Leaders

TBCARYDSAVGTDLG
Graham19924.8014
Bennett3227.3018
DETCARYDSAVGTDLG
Jones15765.1117
Johnson13232.0132

Receiving Leaders

TBRECYDSAVGTDLG
Graham13997.6015
Hilliard99210.2138
DETRECYDSAVGTDLG
Johnson23718.5019
Jones6345.7014

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERTBDET
detFG9:55Jason Hanson 34 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 6 plays, 21 yds, 2:32
03
detTD2:55Kevin Jones, 1 yd run (Jason Hanson kick is good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 49 yds, 2:01
010
tbTD12:53Ike Hilliard, 5 yd pass from Jeff Garcia (Matt Bryant kick is good)
Drive info: 9 plays, 81 yds, 5:03
710
detFG0:09Jason Hanson 42 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 46 yds, 1:55
713
THIRD QUARTERTBDET
detFG4:17Jason Hanson 32 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 13 plays, 66 yds, 8:17
716
FOURTH QUARTERTBDET
detTD6:38Calvin Johnson, 32 yd run (Jason Hanson kick is good)
Drive info: 9 plays, 93 yds, 5:20
723
tbTD2:06Maurice Stovall, 4 yd pass from Jeff Garcia(Jeff Garcia pass to Anthony Becht for 2pt conversion failed)
Drive info: 16 plays, 78 yds, 4:25
1323
tbFG1:09Matt Bryant 48 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 6 plays, 29 yds, 0:59
1623