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(Sunday, September 8th)
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 season.
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 the playoffs.
"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 yards.
09/08 18:11:49 ET