The Detroit Lions ended a 19-game losing streak to beat the Washington Redskins 19-14 on Sunday and record their first victory in nearly two years. Detroit fans, who had staged protests and worn bags over their heads during the winless run which saw them lose every game of the 2008 season, had not been able to celebrate a victory since the Lions beat the Kansas City Chiefs on December 23, 2007.
"We not only got the monkey off our back, we got King Kong off our back," the Lions owner William Clay Ford said. "I'm hoping this gets us over the hump and gives us a winning attitude." Only 40,896 - the smallest crowd for a game at Ford Field - witnessed the victory with a league-mandated television blackout in effect because the game was not sold out. Following the win the Lions returned to the field to shake the hands of their loyal fans who had stood behind them through last season's 0-16 campaign and a losing run that equalled the second longest in the NFL.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hold the record after they lost 26 consecutive games in the 1976-77 seasons. After becoming the first NFL team to finish a regular season 0-16, the Lions underwent an off-season overhaul that included a new logo, a new head coach in Jim Schwartz and a rookie quarterback in Matthew Stafford. Stafford, the No 1 draft pick in April, completed 21-of-36 passes for 241 yards, including a 21-yard first quarter touchdown pass to Bryant Johnson to give Detroit a lead.
Jason Hanson slotted two field goals in the second quarter to give Detroit a 13-0 lead at half-time before the Redskins answered with a 57-yard touchdown pass from Jason Campbell to Santana Moss in the third quarter. Maurice Morris rumbled over in the fourth quarter to push the Lions to a 19-7 lead, although Washington answered with a four-yard touchdown pass from Campbell to Rock Cartwright. But it was not enough to keep the Lions from celebrating at the end of the game.
In other NFL action on Sunday, the veteran quarterback Brett Favre maintained the Minnesota Vikings' (3-0) 100 per cent record with a 32-yard touchdown pass to Greg Lewis, who only just managed to keep his feet in the end zone, with only two seconds remaining to see off the previously unbeaten San Francisco 49ers (2-1) 27-24. The New York Jets (3-0) quarterback Mark Sanchez became the first rookie to win his first three games. He scored a touchdown as the Jets beat the Tennessee Titans (0-3) 24-17.
The New York Giants (3-0) comfortably beat Tampa Bay (0-3) in a 24-0 rout, while the quarterback Peyton Manning threw four touchdown passes to guide the Indianapolis Colts (3-0) to a 31-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals (1-2). The New Orleans Saints (3-0) also maintained their unbeaten start as they comfortably defeated the Buffalo Bills (1-2) 27-7, for whom Terrell Owens went without a catch for the first time in 185 games.
Joe Flacco threw for a career-high 342 yards and Willis McGahee scored two touchdowns as the Baltimore Ravens (3-0) cruised to a dominant 34-3 victory over the Cleveland Browns (0-3). Michael Vick made his first NFL appearance for two years since his release from prison after being involved in running a dog fighting ring. He backed up Philadelphia's (2-1) Kevin Kolb in a 34-14 thrashing of Kansas City (0-3), taking the field for 11 snaps. Kolb led the way, throwing for 327 yards and having two touchdown passes.
There was plenty for Bengals fans to cheer about too. Roars of their chant "Who Dey" echoed around the Paul Brown Stadium as Cincinnati (2-1) stunned the Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2) with a 23-20 success. It was the Super Bowl champions' second successive defeat with the home quarterback Carson Palmer throwing a four-yard touchdown pass to Andre Caldwell with 14 seconds left to give Cincinnati the victory.
Aaron Rodgers threw two touchdown passes and ran for another as the Green Bay Packers (2-1) sent the St Louis Rams (0-3) to their 13th consecutive loss as they won 36-17, while a trio of touchdowns from Maurice Jones-Drew saw the Jackonsville Jaguars (1-2) edge past the Houston Texans (1-2) 31-24. Philip Rivers rushed over for a touchdown as the San Diego Chargers (2-1) got the better of the Miami Dolphins (0-3), winning 23-13, while Jay Cutler threw for 247 yards and had three touchdown passes as the Chicago Bears (2-1) came from behind to beat the Seattle Seahawks (1-2) 25-19.
* With agencies