Lions Leaving Harrington As Starter

Detroit coach Steve Mariucci considered a change at quarterback, but the Vikings will face Joey Harrington — at least as the starter — Sunday at Ford Field.

Coach Steve Mariucci thought it over but when the Lions returned to practice Wednesday, their quarterback lineup remained the same as it has been for the first 13 games of the season.

Joey Harrington will be the starter for the game Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings and Mike McMahon is the backup.

And the decision apparently wasn't nearly as much of an issue for Mariucci as the media might have imagined it would be.

"We left it alone," Mariucci said. "(Harrington) has been the starter all along. While we had some discussion about the quarterback position — and some other positions as well — we decided to stay the same at that position."

Mariucci said it was his decision to stick with Harrington although it had been discussed at the organizational level.

Harrington, in his third year as the Lions' starting quarterback, has struggled since the first six games of the season. At that time he was the NFC's third-rated quarterback with a passer rating of 94.9, a 62.7 completion percentage to go with 10 touchdown passes and three interceptions.

Since then his passer rating has slipped to 77.2, his completion percentage is down to 54.9 and he has thrown an additional five touchdowns and five interceptions. His 5-for-22 performance — good for only 47 yards — in Green Bay was the least productive of his NFL career.

Mariucci fueled speculation about a change of quarterbacks when he said Monday he wanted to think about it before making a final decision on his quarterback for the Vikings game Sunday at Ford Field.

In the end, he apparently decided to stick with Harrington — seemingly still the Lions quarterback of the future — and let him work his way out of the slump.

"Any position — but especially quarterback — you'd like to see them handle the situations, the ups and downs, the ebbs and flows of a season," Mariucci said. "Play with some success, play after having been defeated, play in all the situations you possibly can play in — two-minute, goal line, red zone.

"All of those sort of things add up to valuable experience for him. He's fighting through some adversity, as we all know, and, yeah, you want to see how he handles that. He's done that before, he did it last year. He's done it at times this year.

"So, yeah, I guess part of the evaluation that takes place on him or anybody would be to see how one handles this. I expect him to handle this well."

Twice in the last four games the Lions have lost significant halftime leads and lost the game as well, for a lack of second-half offense. They led the Vikings 19-7 midway in the third quarter and lost 22-19 on Nov. 21 at Minneapolis; they led the Packers 13-0 at the half Sunday in Green Bay and lost 16-13.



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