EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP)—The road to respectability for the Detroit Lions has been … the road.
How ironic for a team that went three years and an NFL-record 24 games without winning away from Motown.
Joey Harrington threw two touchdown passes, and Chris Cash made a crucial diving interception in the end zone late in the first half to lead the Lions to a 28-13 win over the New York Giants on Sunday.
“I feel like we can go in anywhere and play and compete,” Harrington said after the Lions (4-2) won for the third time in three road games this season.
“That’s the type of attitude you have to have as a team, as a contender,” Harrington added. “We’re right in the thick of things. We’re not going to say this is good enough, we can be a contender next year because we are young. We’re going to give it a shot and keep playing and hopefully things will fall for us.”
The loss also showed that even new coach Tom Coughlin could not change the Giants’ woes after a bye week. New York has lost four straight, 8 of 9, and 13 of 16 since the NFL started giving teams weeks off in 1990.
“I can’t blame it on the bye week, that’s a cop-out,” Giants defensive end Michael Strahan said. “If you don’t make plays you don’t win. We didn’t have any enthusiasm. We had it, let it go, and the Lions picked it up and never let go of it.”
Kurt Warner and Tiki Barber combined on a 62-yard screen pass for a touchdown, and Steve Christie kicked field goals of 19 and 25 yards for the Giants, whose offense was horrible near the Detroit end zone.
The Giants, whose winning streak was based on getting turnovers, lost the takeaway battle 2-0, with no play hurting more than Cash’s interception in the final minute of the first half.
Cash, who started at left cornerback for Fernando Bryant, made a diving interception off a lazy pass by Warner with 39 seconds to go and New York ahead 10-7.
The pick came after Warner completed six passes to move the Giants from their 6-yard line to the Lions 11. Warner avoided a sack on the interception but he lobbed the ball to a wide open Amani Toomer. Cash closed quickly to make the interception.
“That was huge,” Lions defensive end James Hall said. “It took points off the board going into the half and kept the game close.”
Cash, who described his plays as `great’, had chased Toomer all the way across the field in making the interception.
Warner said he lofted the ball too much over a defender.
“It could have been a huge momentum swing for us and really put us in control,” said Warner, who completed 23 of 34 passes for 270 yards. “It was a game we should have had but we made some mistakes.”
The Lions took the lead early in the second half on Jones’ first TD run and they never lost it.
Detroit, limited to five first downs and 125 total yards in a loss to Green Bay last week, scored on a 10-play, 70-yard drive on the opening series of the game. Harrington connected on three third-down passes, capping the drive with a pass to Williams. It was the rookie’s fifth TD catch.
The Giants tied it in the closing seconds of the first quarter when Barber scored on the screen pass that started with the back running into center Shaun O’Hara. Rookie receiver Jamaar Taylor had a big block.
Christie put New York ahead 10-7 seconds after Ron Dayne was stuffed on a third-and-goal from the Lions 1.
Jones gave the Lions a 14-10 lead on their opening series of the second half. He had runs of 22 and 20 yards before scoring to cap the five-play, 68-yard drive.
Christie got the Giants within a point with his 25-yarder with 8:18 to go. It capped a 14-play, 76-yard drive in which Warner drove New York to the Lions 13. Three plays netted six yards and that led to the field goal.
Barber, who led non-quarterbacks with nine fumbles last season, fumbled for the first time in 119 rushes and 22 receptions this year. He recovered. He finished with 70 yards on 22 carries. … The Lions had 87 of their 115 yards rushing in the second half. … Toomer caught a pass for the 89th straight game. … The Lions had six sacks, including two by Kalimba Edwards.