PONTIAC, Mich. — Scott Mitchell's improved passing got Barry Sanders into Detroit's game plan, and the results were astounding.
Sanders rushed for 157 yards and three touchdowns in 18 carries Sunday, including a 75-yard dash, in the Lions' 38-20 victory over the slumping Cleveland Browns.
"I think everyone is at a place where they are satisfied with our scheme now," Sanders said. "I think you're seeing a team that's coming together. We have balance in our attack now."
It was the most touchdowns for Sanders since Nov. 24, 1991, when he scored four at Minnesota. Sanders, who also scored from 11 and two yards, now has gone over 100 yards 43 times during his NFL career.
Mitchell kept Cleveland off-balance, completing 24 of 38 passes for 273 yards and two touchdowns with one interception as the Lions (2-3) continued their comeback from an 0-3 start. Herman Moore caught nine passes for 125 yards.
Mitchell entered the game ranked seventh in the NFC with an 86.6 rating. But he began hitting his stride two weeks ago, completing a career-best 28 of 42 for 291 yards and one touchdown in a 27-24 Monday night upset of the San Francisco 49ers.
"Our game plan was to take what they gave us and we did," Mitchell said. "It's a guessing game. We had a 'go-after-them' type of game plan. We thought that we could put some points on the board and just keep it simple."
It was the second loss in a week for the Browns (3-3), who were coming off a Monday night defeat to the Buffalo Bills. It also was the most points given up this season by the Browns, who had been allowing 13.8 points per game, fourth in the NFL.
"That was an outstanding performance by Detroit," Cleveland Coach Bill Belichick said. "They totally outplayed us in every area of the game.
"Still, we need to regroup, because we have a lot better football team than that."
Sanders already had 129 yards and two touchdowns by halftime, and the Lions had a commanding 24-3 lead.