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DETROIT 42, ARIZONA 24

Mariucci Enjoys a Solid Debut

September 08, 2003|From Associated Press

DETROIT — Joey Harrington made sure Steve Mariucci's debut with the Detroit Lions was a good one Sunday.

Harrington threw a career-high four touchdown passes to lead the Lions past the Arizona Cardinals, 42-24, spoiling Emmitt Smith's first game with his new team and Anquan Boldin's record-setting day.

"Everyone wanted to see what would happen with Coach Mariucci handling things," Harrington said. "I don't think it could've been much better."

Boldin caught 10 passes for 217 yards, a record for a rookie in his debut, and two touchdowns. Boldin, a second-round pick from Florida State, surpassed the record set by Washington's Hugh Taylor, who had 212 yards against Philadelphia on Sept. 28, 1947.

"Right now, I don't think I can enjoy it," Boldin said. "I would give those stats back for the win."

Lion end Robert Porcher said if he were Smith, he would've retired in Dallas after breaking Walter Payton's NFL rushing record last year.

Smith may have thought the same thing after he had only four yards in his first five carries without a blue star on his helmet. He is playing on a poor team after winning three Super Bowls, one most-valuable-player award and one Super Bowl MVP trophy in 13 seasons with the Cowboys.

Smith had 64 yards in 13 carries, extending his rushing record to 17,226 yards.

"I don't like to talk about myself," Smith said. "This is a team game."

It was a close game for nearly three quarters between two teams expected to be among the NFL's worst. Then the Lions scored three touchdowns -- one on a punt return, another on an interception return -- in about seven minutes.

Mariucci has created excitement after returning to his home state following his firing in San Francisco, where he was 60-43 in six seasons.

Detroit had a 5-27 record under Marty Mornhinweg.

"This is the beginning of what I have spent the last seven months waiting for," Mariucci said. "It's great to be home."

Harrington completed 17 of 30 passes for 195 yards and no turnovers. The third selection in last year's draft is the first Detroit quarterback to throw four touchdown passes since Scott Mitchell against Chicago in 1996.

Rookie Charles Rogers had four receptions for 38 yards and two scores, one on a highlight-reel catch. He was fully extended on a 13-yard pass from Harrington to put the Lions ahead, 14-7, early in the second quarter.

Arizona's Jeff Blake was 28 for 46 for 363 yards with three touchdowns. But he had an interception returned for a score and a fumble that set up another touchdown.

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