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A Lion-Hearted Effort Is What Pleases Ross About New Team

September 01, 1997|From Associated Press

PONTIAC, Mich. — The Bobby Ross Era got off to a winning start Sunday for the Detroit Lions and the new coach liked what he saw--in the fourth quarter.

Middle linebacker Stephen Boyd returned a fumble for a touchdown and set up the winning score with a fourth-quarter interception as the Lions defeated the Atlanta Falcons, 28-17, spoiling Dan Reeves' coaching debut for Atlanta.

Jamal Anderson's one-yard touchdown run gave Atlanta a 17-14 lead with 9:57 left, capping a 91-yard drive. But the Lions scored twice in a 1:12 span to hush the boos from a crowd of 61,244 in the Silverdome.

"I like winning in the fourth quarter, because that shows fight," Ross said. "There was no way for me to know how this team would handle adversity until they actually had to face it. They showed me that they weren't going to bow their heads and quit, that they would keep playing."

Boyd, a second-year player out of Boston College, picked off Chris Chandler's pass over the middle with 5:45 remaining, and two plays later Scott Mitchell lofted a 25-yard touchdown pass to Herman Moore.

Another Lion linebacker, Reggie Brown, returned an interception 38 yards for an insurance touchdown with 3:57 remaining.

There were 11 fumbles in the game, six by Detroit. Barry Sanders, the NFL's leading rusher last season, was held to 33 yards on 15 carries.

"Our No. 1 goal was to keep Barry under 100 yards," said linebacker Jessie Tuggle. "We did the job. Unfortunately, it was a defensive game and their defense made big plays."

Mitchell, who missed the final two exhibition games with a pulled groin muscle, completed 12 of 30 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns--both to Moore.

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