NFL: Detroit end 19-game losing streak

AFP , DETROIT, MICHIGAN

Tue, Sep 29, 2009 - Page 19

At last — the Detroit Lions are back in the National Football League winner’s circle.

The long-luckless Lions ended a 19-game losing streak that stretched back to 2007 on Sunday with a 19-14 victory over the Washington Redskins.

Detroit’s skid equaled the second-longest in NFL history, and the Lions didn’t mind admitting they were relieved not to be heading toward Tampa Bay’s record 26-game losing streak of 1976-1977.

“We not only got the monkey off our back, we got King Kong off our back,” Lions owner William Clay Ford said. “I’m hoping that this gets us over that hump and gives us a winning attitude.”

Rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Bryant Johnson in the first quarter and the Lions added a fourth-quarter TD.

Then came a nail-biting final drive by Washington — the tension so great on the Lions bench that Stafford didn’t watch the final snap.

“I figured I’d just let the crowd noise tell me what happened,” Stafford said. “When it got really quiet, I couldn’t take it, so I looked up, and saw them running, and then the tackle, and then I saw the clock was at zero.”

Stafford came to Detroit via the top pick in last year’s NFL draft, the team’s consolation after the dubious achievement of becoming the first team in league history to post an 0-16 season.

“We’ve still got a long way to go, but we’ve got a quarterback, and that’s a big piece of the puzzle,” Lions vice chairman Bill Ford said.

Indianapolis, Baltimore, the New York Giants, New Orleans and Denver also improved to 3-0.

Peyton Manning threw four touchdown passes to lead Indianapolis to a 31-10 victory at Arizona.

The Giants routed Tampa Bay 24-0, Denver beat Oakland 23-3, Baltimore downed Cleveland 34-3 and New Orleans beat Buffalo 27-7.

All eyes were on Michael Vick in Philadelphia as the former Falcons star made his return to the NFL after serving a prison sentence for his role in a dogfighting operation.

Vick made little impact in 11 plays, but with starting quarterback Donovan McNabb nursing a broken rib, backup Kevin Kolb guided the Eagles to a 34-14 victory over Kansas City.

Super Bowl champions Pittsburgh, who had won their last eight games on Cincinnati’s home field, saw that run of dominance come to an end as the Bengals triumphed 23-20.

New England rebounded from a disappointing loss to the Jets last week with a 26-10 victory over Atlanta, Green Bay handed St Louis their 13th straight defeat, 36-17, Jacksonville beat Houston 31-24, Chicago beat injury-­depleted Seattle 25-19, and San Diego beat Miami 23-13 in a game in which Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington departed early with a shoulder injury.