Final Score: Detroit 34, Minnesota 24
Detroit, MI (Sports Network) - Reggie Bush totaled almost 200 yards in his
Detroit debut and Matthew Stafford had two touchdown passes in the second
half, as the Lions took a 34-24 victory over the Minnesota Vikings to open the
Bush, a free agent signing in the offseason, finished the game with 191 yards
of total offense and a touchdown. He had 21 carries for 90 yards, while
adding four catches for 101 yards and a score.
Stafford went 28-for-43 for 357 yards and two touchdowns, along with one
interception for the Lions (1-0), who lost their final eight games last season
to finish the 2012 campaign with a record of 4-12.
"Offense, defense, special teams all had their hands in this victory," said
Stafford. "I'm proud of the guys for sticking together because the offense
didn't play up to par in the first half."
A year removed from setting the NFL record for receiving yards in a season,
Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson had a very pedestrian game, catching just
four balls for 37 yards.
Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, last season's MVP, appeared poised for a big day
as he took his first handoff 78 yards for a score. However, he was smothered
by the Detroit defense the rest of the day, gaining just 15 yards on his next
17 carries. He did, though, have two rushing touchdowns and a receiving
touchdown to go with four catches for 18 yards.
Christian Ponder had a tough day behind center as he went 18-for-28 for 236
yards with a touchdown and three interceptions, along with losing a fumble for
the Vikings (0-1), who went 10-6 last season and lost in the first round of
"Tough loss for our football team on the road," said Minnesota head coach
Leslie Frazier. "We didn't do things you have to do on the road to win. The
penalties late in the game that kept drives going really hurt. But Detroit
deserved to win that game and we're going to watch the tapes and see what we
can do to change the things we did wrong."
On its first possession of the second half, Detroit went on top. The first
play saw Nate Burleson catch a pass for 21 yards, and Bush followed with a 10-
yard run. After a Bush touchdown run of one yard was reversed after it was
determined his knee hit the ground before the ball crossed the goal line,
Joique Bell followed that with a run around the left end for a 20-14 lead with
10:19 to play in the third.
Minnesota countered on a 52-yard field goal from Blair Walsh to finish off a
7-play, 46-yard drive, but the Lions had a quick answer.
On the third play facing a 3rd-and-7, Stafford dumped off the ball to Bush
over the middle, and he took it the distance, racing 77 yards for a score and
a 27-17 lead.
"We talked about getting in space and just constantly being in situations
where we have mismatches with a linebacker or something," said Bush. "I think
we did a good job of that, and we'll see more of that in the future."
Ponder used a rare deep ball to get the Vikings back in the game, as he lofted
a bomb down the middle into the hands of Jerome Simpson for a 47-yard catch
down to the Detroit 15. Three plays later, he snapped a quick pass to Peterson
for a 4-yard score and a 27-24 game.
After a Detroit punt, Ponder fumbled the ball with Nick Fairley recovering at
the Minnesota 39. That led to a 1-yard touchdown catch from Joseph Fauria, the
first of his career, for a 34-24 lead with 6:47 to play.
Minnesota's two final touches saw a three-and-out, and an interception from
Ponder as the Lions held on for the win.
Detroit marched down the field on the opening possession, but were stopped on
3rd-and-1 at the Minnesota 13 after Bush dropped Stafford's short pass. The
team lined up for a field goal, but holder Sam Martin dropped the snap and
Minnesota fell on it at the 22-yard line.
The next play saw Peterson take the handoff up the middle and head all the way
to the end zone as he was barely touched on the 78-yard score.
Detroit's offense again moved the ball, but again fell short inside the red
zone. The team nearly scored as Stafford and Johnson got together on what
appeared to be a 20-yard score, but a replay showed the ball briefly came out
of Johnson's hands as he hit the ground. A 33-yard field goal from David Akers
made it a 7-3 game with 4:45 to play in the first.
The Lions defense did fare much better on the Vikings next possession, holding
the team to a three-and-out and getting the ball back near midfield.
Once again the team got to the red zone and appeared to convert a 4th-and-1 at
the Minnesota 14 when Bell took a handoff for two yards, but a holding call on
Brandon Pettigrew brought the play back and Akers' 42-yard field goal made it
a 7-6 game just 13 seconds into the second quarter.
Ponder then had a pass tipped into the hands of DeAndre Levy, who took the
ball into the end zone from 33 yards out. However, a low block call on
Ndamukong Suh brought the play back. Stafford then had a pass tipped at the
line and it was picked off by Erin Henderson to give Minnesota the ball back
at its 35.
After a 21-yard catch from Kyle Rudolph, Simpson caught a 44-yard bomb down
the right sideline to the Detroit 4-yard line. The next play saw Peterson take
it in for a 14-6 lead with 12:17 left.
Each team then punted twice, and Pettigrew fumbled a catch that Minnesota
recovered at its 30. Ponder, though, tried to throw away the ball while under
pressure and had his arm tipped, with Stephen Tulloch catching the wobbly ball
to give Detroit the ball at its own 30.
A 27-yard catch from Burleson saw Detroit get the ball past midfield and
catches of 11 and 12 yards from Bell, followed by an 11-yard catch from Kris
Durham got the ball to the Minnesota 1-yard line.
Detroit quickly got to the line and Bell leaped over the pile with the ball.
It was punched out of his hands and ruled a fumble with Minnesota recovering.
The replay, though, showed he broke the plane and was ruled a touchdown to
make it a 14-13 game going into the break.
Burleson, who suffered a broken leg last year and missed the final 10 games,
had six catches for 78 yards ... Simpson caught seven passes for 140 yards ...
The Lions controlled the ball for over 36 minutes ... Minnesota swept the
season series last year and had won eight of the last 11 games coming into
Sunday's contest ... Detroit totaled 469 yards of offense, compared to 330 for
Minnesota ... The Lions play at Minnesota next week, while the Vikings play in
Chicago ... Bell had five catches for 67 yards, along with six carries for 25
09/08 18:11:49 ET
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