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With fast start, Lions finally join the club

Detroit has never been to a Super Bowl and has long toiled in obscurity, but overtime rally against Minnesota brings it to 3-0 with momentum heading into game against Dallas.

September 27, 2011|By Lance Pugmire
  • Detroit wide receiver Nate Burleson, left, tries to break a tackle by Minnesota cornerback Antoine Winfield during the Lions' victory Sunday. Detroit is off to a 3-0 start.
Detroit wide receiver Nate Burleson, left, tries to break a tackle by Minnesota… (Genevieve Ross / Associated…)

This isn't supposed to be happening, which makes the potential of the Detroit Lions' season all the more captivating.

The team that's never been to a Super Bowl, that could never win on the road, that drafted horribly and has long been painfully short of talent and guts, now heads to the spacious home of America's Team on Sunday at 3-0 after rallying from a 20-0 deficit to claim a 26-23 overtime triumph over Minnesota.

"We don't need to have ticker-tape parades over regular-season wins," Lions Coach Jim Schwartz said to reporters this week, working hard to keep public frenzy in perspective. "We got a win, which obviously is the objective … but we need to play better."

Former No. 1 draft pick, quarterback Matthew Stafford, passed for two second-half touchdowns and 378 yards to lead the Lions' comeback on the road.

Now come the Dallas Cowboys, whose quarterback Tony Romo is regaining traction as more of a hero than goat after enduring the pain of a rib fracture and punctured lung to win in overtime in San Francisco two weeks ago, and then hand Washington its first loss Monday.

"We're football players, you want to be out there," Romo told reporters after Monday's victory. "You need the wins, [and the pain's] not going to be any worse than it was last week."

Coach Jason Garrett says his Dallas offense must play better than it did against Washington.

We "bogged down in the red zone," Garrett said, his offense having to settle for six field goals. But Garrett was thrilled with his "outstanding" defense. Lineman DeMarcus Ware leads the NFL with five sacks.

Detroit's defense could be bolstered by the debut of first-round pick defensive lineman Nick Fairley, who suffered a foot fracture in the preseason.

A Lions' victory would match their best start since 1980 — when they failed to make the playoffs — and keep them unbeaten since they ended their record 26-game road losing streak last December.

Other games:

Buffalo at Cincinnati: The amazing Bills will work to match their first 4-0 start since 2008, when they crashed and burned to finish 7-9. This team appears more legit, with a Ryan Fitzpatrick-Fred Jackson-led offense having hung 34 points on New England and a defense that intercepted Tom Brady four times.

New England at Oakland: The first-place Raiders try to beat a second-consecutive conference favorite at the "Black Hole," after Darren McFadden ran over, around and through the New York Jets. The Patriots haven't lost back-to-back games since trips to New Orleans and Miami in 2009.

Pittsburgh at Houston: A pair of 2-1 teams square off with the Texans looking better so far, nearly beating 2009 Super Bowl champion New Orleans at the Superdome. Meanwhile, the Steelers went to the wire against anemic Indianapolis.

N.Y. Jets at Baltimore: The Jets' brutal road trip, which ends next week at New England, continues Sunday night against a Ravens' unit that has torched two of three foes and has no patience for former defensive coordinator Rex Ryan's shtick.

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimespugmire

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