PONTIAC, Mich. — Nathan Wonsley, the Wonsley nobody wanted, proved the NFL experts wrong Sunday.
The rookie free agent had touchdown runs of 22 and 55 yards as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took advantage of five Detroit turnovers for a 24-20 victory over the Lions before 38,453, the smallest crowd ever to see an NFL game in the Silverdome.
"As the NFL draft went on, each and every lonely night I sat in my room thinking I wouldn't get drafted," said Wonsley, a 5-foot-10, 190-pounder from Mississippi. "It was very discouraging. I knew I couldn't stop there, because I didn't get to college by stopping and being a quitter."
Wonsley has a brother, George, who plays for the Indianapolis Colts and another brother, Otis, who plays for the Washington Redskins. All three are running backs.
"I went back to the drawing board," Wonsley said. "I went to the weight room and worked out every day. I ran every day.
"Every time a scout came around, I went out there and gave him 100%. Finally, the Bucs called and said they'd give me a shot."
He made the most of it, and when James Wilder, the Buccaneers' regular tailback, was unable to play because of a bruised chest, Wonsley was ready. He rushed 18 times for 138 yards against the Lions.
The victory was the Buccaneers' first of the season and first on the road since beating Minnesota on Nov. 6, 1983, snapping a 19-game winless streak.
Tampa (1-2) scored 14 points in the second quarter and 10 in the third. The Lions (1-2) scored 14 in the fourth quarter, but they weren't enough.
The Buccaneer defense, led by Ivory Sully, recovered 3 of 6 Detroit fumbles, intercepted 2 Eric Hipple passes and registered 4 quarterback sacks.
"Any time you give up things like that to anyone in this league at this level, you're going to pay," Lion Coach Darryl Rogers said.
"You just can't do that. When you do that, you have a great chance of losing."