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Showing the Heart of a Lion Pleases Ross

October 20, 2000|From Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. — The Detroit Lions gave the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a lesson in being resilient.

James Stewart ran for 116 yards and three touchdowns and Jason Hanson kicked two field goals Thursday night as the Lions came from behind to beat the struggling Buccaneers, 28-14.

The victory gave Detroit (5-2) a split of the season series against Tampa Bay, which has lost four in a row since dominating the Lions in a 31-10 victory at the Silverdome on Sept. 17. Detroit also has won three consecutive road games to start a season for the first time since 1961.

"I think it really speaks well for this ballclub," Coach Bobby Ross said of the way the Lions rebounded from the lopsided loss. "I think there is a lot of character to them. And, did they ever exhibit it tonight."

The Buccaneers (3-4) began the season with three consecutive victories, but inconsistency on offense and uncharacteristic mistakes on defense and special teams have contributed to the team's first four-game losing streak since it started 0-5 in 1996--Tony Dungy's first season as coach.

Tampa Bay led, 8-0, before falling apart--losing a fumble and suffering three interceptions, including two that set up go-ahead scores by Detroit in the second half. The Buccaneers also couldn't fully capitalize on a first-quarter blocked punt by Nate Webster that Ronde Barber couldn't recover in the end zone for a touchdown, settling instead for a safety.

"This is one of the toughest losses we've had since I've been here," Dungy said. "We had a lot of things going for us and didn't take advantage of them."

Stewart scored on runs of four, four and one yards, the last two coming in the final 4:28 when the Lions pulled away from a 14-14 tie. Hanson kicked field goals of 32 and 47 yards, while Charlie Batch was 13 for 31 for 144 yards and no interceptions.

The Lions began the game ranked 22nd in offense and 29th in defense, but had a winning record because they did a good job of not turning over the ball. Tampa Bay sacked Batch seven times, but didn't force any turnovers.

Martin Gramatica kicked field goals of 27, 43, 50 and 55 yards for Tampa Bay.

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