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Howard's Return Is Super for Lions

September 04, 2000|From Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — Desmond Howard apparently knows what it takes to make tacklers miss at the Superdome.

Howard's 95-yard punt return for a touchdown Sunday gave the Detroit Lions the lead for good in a 14-10 victory over the New Orleans Saints in their season opener. It was reminiscent of Howard's 99-yard kickoff return on the same field in the 1997 Super Bowl that clinched the Green Bay Packers' 35-21 victory over the New England Patriots.

"The one in the Super Bowl was a little longer," Howard said. "But six points is six points, especially when you're down and you can help your team out."

The Lions needed the help as they managed only two Jason Hanson field goals before Howard grabbed a punt with 2:06 left in the third quarter and rambled downfield, giving them a 12-7 lead.

"I just think about D and D," Detroit wide receiver Johnny Morton said, "Desmond and defense. Without them, we might be going home with a bitter feeling."

The Saints' newly installed West Coast offense had only 252 yards and 13 first downs and converted only six of 17 third downs.

Saint running back Ricky Williams, coming off a disappointing rookie season, had 84 yards in 20 carries and fumbled twice.

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