Lions a "foot" short in loss to Tampa

There used to be a time, if the Detroit Lions needed it, they could count on Jason Hanson to bail them out of any situation. Hanson is one of the most reliable kickers in the NFL, but after 11 years in the league, Hanson's leg isn't as strong as it used to be.

(DETROIT, MI) -- There used to be a time, if the Detroit Lions needed it, they could count on Jason Hanson to bail them out of any situation. Hanson is one of the most reliable kickers in the NFL, but after 11 years in the league, Hanson's leg isn't as strong as it used to be.

The leading scorer in Lions history came on to the field with a shot at a 57-yard field goal to tie the ball game late in the fourth quarter. But Hanson's attempt was about five yards short. The Buccaneers were then able to run out the clock to preserve a 23-20 victory over a surprisingly tough Lions team.

Detroit watched as their leader, rookie quarterback Joey Harrington was escorted from the field and taken away in an ambulance to Henry Ford hospital. Harrington played the first series before an irregular heartbeat caused doctors and the coaching staff to pull him from the game.

A 20-yard Martin Grammatica field goal gave the Bucs a 3-0 lead and a Mike Alstott 1-yard plunge to start the second quarter upped it to 10-0. Mike McMahon then came on and provided a spark that Lions haven't had over the last six weeks.

Moving around in the pocket, McMahon connected with Bill Schroeder three times in a six-play, 79 yard drive including a 18-yard touchdown pass to pull Detroit to within 10-7.

On the very next possession McMahon moved the team from their 38 yard line to the Tampa 25 behind some nifty running from NFL Europe castoff Rafael Cooper, subbing for the injured James Stewart. A 37-yard Hanson field goal tied the score, but a Grammatica 28-yard field goal gave Tampa a 13-10 lead at the half.

Detroit took the opening kickoff and McMahon again moved Detroit into scoring position. Hanson's 25-yarder tied the contest.

The game turned when McMahon's pass intended for Germane Crowell was tipped and intercepted by Shelton Quarles of Tampa, halting a Lions drive at the Bucs 42-yard line. Tampa QB Brad Johnson then connected with Keyshawn Johnson for a big gainer into Detroit territory. Michael Pittman's 4-yard run gave Tampa the 20-13 lead.

Detroit answered when Eddie Drummond took the ensuing kickoff 91 yards to the Tampa 8-yard line. McMahon finished it off three plays later, rushing it in from 2-yards to tie it at 20-20. But with just 3:08 left in the game, Martin Grammatica added a 38-yarder which turned out to be the difference in the ballgame.

Hanson's attempt to tie came up about four yards short and Detroit never regained possession.

Detroit (3-11) now heads to Atlanta for their last shot at winning a road game under Marty Mornhinweg this season and maybe forever. Lions owner William Clay Ford, Sr. commented on the Lions situation saying he is "disappointed" with the results of the Millen and Mornhinweg regime and that he will "evaluate" both at season's end.


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