TAMPA, Fla. — Everybody beats the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, so Darryl Rogers had to wonder why not him.
The Detroit Lions avoided the embarrassment of losing to the Buccaneers for the third straight time by overcoming the heat and humidity in Tampa Sunday for a 38-17 victory.
"It was a great effort from our players on defense and overall, I'm pleased with the offense," Rogers said. "The heat and humidity really saps your strength, especially the defensive linemen."
The Buccaneers, 4-24 in the Leeman Bennett era, beat Detroit, 19-16, in overtime last year and snapped Tampa Bay's 19-game road losing streak with a 24-20 victory two months ago. The Buccaneers have won 12 of their last 60 games.
Jeff Chadwick caught an 18-yard touchdown pass and set up another score with a 73-yard reception as the Lions (5-7) improved their road record to 4-3, the first time since 1971 Detroit has won four road games in a season.
Leonard Thompson had two touchdown catches for the Lions, including a 34-yarder on rookie Chuck Long's first NFL pass.
Detroit opened a 28-10 lead late in the third period on two touchdowns within an 86-second span. Tampa Bay (2-10) pulled within 14-10 on Steve Young's 11-yard scoring pass to James Wilder midway through the quarter, but Ferguson directed a 75-yard drive capped by the scoring pass to Chadwick.
Rookie safety Devon Mitchell intercepted Young's pass at the Tampa Bay 19 two plays later and rookie Garry James made it 28-10 with a 13-yard scoring run.
Eddie Murray added a 20-yard field goal for Detroit before Pat Franklin caught a two-yard scoring pass from Young with 2:14 left to make it 31-17.
"Some of the burden of 2-10 falls on everybody," Young said. "Last Monday after a tough loss we were out there throwing passes . . . a lot of guys were home watching TV."
Wilder ran for a season-high 130 yards for the Buccaneers and Young completed 23 of 32 for 218 yards, but was sacked 4 times and threw 2 interceptions. Tampa Bay also lost two fumbles.
Ferguson, filling in for injured Eric Hipple, completed 14 of 21 passes for 230 yards and Chadwick had 98 yards on 3 receptions.
James Jones opened the scoring with a one-yard plunge after Chadwick's 73-yard catch--Detroit's longest play from scrimmage this season and the longest reception of Chadwick's four-year career. Thompson caught a four-yard touchdown pass from Ferguson late in the second quarter to give the Lions a 14-3 halftime lead.