Monday Morning QB: Garcia Will Remain Starter

ALLEN PARK - Assuming he can stay healthy, Jeff Garcia will be the Lions quarterback -- probably for the rest of the season, undoubtedly for the game against Chicago on Sunday.

Coach Steve Mariucci didn't put it in those exact words, but Garcia's performance in the Lions' 13-10 victory at Cleveland and Mariucci's glowing praise afterward left little doubt regarding his status.

"He didn't get sacked," Mariucci said. "He's got some great escapability, as you know. He can improvise, he makes plays with his legs, along with his arm and his head and his smarts.

"But he's made plays with his legs, and that puts him into that athletic quarterback category you saw today. I just think if he's healthy, he'll get better and better."

Although his performance against the Browns isn't likely to win Garcia a fourth Pro Bowl trip, it was a shot of adrenalin and energy for the Lions, whose offense had been sluggish and unproductive in the first five games of the season.

His numbers were adequate -- 22 completions in 34 passing attempts for 210 yards. No touchdowns, no interceptions. He netted only 1 yard on four rushing attempts, but his yard was the result of a dive into the end zone when he couldn't find an open receiver.

Not bad for a player with just one week of practice, just seven weeks removed from a broken left fibula and badly sprained left ankle suffered in the Lions final preseason game Sept. 2 at Buffalo.

Garcia split the reps last week with Joey Harrington, the Lions starter since the third game of his rookie season in 2002, and was amazingly effective in his first start of the season against the team that cut him at the end of the past season.

What made his first start particularly impressive was the fact he made three or four plays when it seemed there was no play to be made -- connecting with Mike Williams for a 49-yard completion when it looked as if the Browns had him trapped for a sack, getting a 10-yard gain on a shovel pass to running back Shawn Bryson as he was being dragged down by Browns defenders, and avoiding a safety with a 10-yard throw to wide receiver Scottie Vines.

The job won't get any easier for Garcia. The Lions receiving corps is in a state of disarray with Roy Williams recovering from a quadriceps injury that has cost him the past two games, Charles Rogers three games into a four-game substance abuse suspension, veteran Kevin Johnson suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon in the Cleveland game and rookie Williams playing with a tight hamstring and a sore back.

REPLAY

The Lions got a new quarterback and a new lease on life in their 13-10 win at Cleveland. The victory lifted Detroit to 3-3 and kept the Lions on top of the NFC North.

Veteran Jeff Garcia, who missed the first five games and hadn't practiced with the first offense since suffering a broken left fibula in the final preseason game Sept. 2 at Buffalo, started in place of Joey Harrington and made the plays that made the difference.

Garcia scored the Lions' only touchdown on a 1-yard run and directed them to short drives that set up Jason Hanson field goals of 47 and 50 yards. The Lions' 329 yards total offense was their most of the season.

The defense contributed significantly to the win with three interceptions (pushing the season total to 13 in six games), four sacks against Browns quarterback Trent Dilfer and by stopping the Browns on all eight third-down plays.

Two Pro Bowl defenders finished the game on the sidelines, however. Cornerback Dre' Bly, who has four interceptions in the past three games, suffered a wrist injury, and tackle Shaun Rogers suffered a knee injury. Their status for this week's game against Chicago is uncertain.

PLAYER NOTES

--DT Shaun Rogers injured his right knee in the second quarter of the Lions' 13-10 victory at Cleveland on Sunday and did not play the rest of the game. Coach Steve Mariucci said Rogers' medial collateral ligament was damaged, but the severity of the injury was not immediately known.

--CB Dre' Bly suffered dislocated bones in his right wrist in the third quarter of the Lions' 13-10 victory at Cleveland on Sunday. Earlier in the game, Bly turned in his fourth interception in three games. His chances of playing Sunday against Chicago were not immediately known.

--QB Jeff Garcia, who missed the Lions' first five games with a broken left fibula, completed 22 of 34 passes for 210 yards and scored on a 1-yard dive into the end zone to lead the Lions to a 13-10 victory Sunday at Cleveland. Garcia kept several plays alive with his legs. He will start next week against Chicago, assuming he has no aftereffects from his first start of the season.

--PK Jason Hanson was wide on a 47-yard field goal attempt before connecting from 47 and 50 yards, providing the Lions their margin of victory in the 13-10 victory Sunday at Cleveland. Hanson had made his last six attempts of 50 yards or more.

--WR Kevin Johnson, the Lions' leading receiver with 17 catches for 133 yards, suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in his right leg late in the first quarter of the 13-10 victory at Cleveland. It appears he will miss the rest of the season.


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