Saints 21

(3-1, 2-1 away)

Lions 26

(1-3, 1-1 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, September 29, 2002


1 2 3 4 T
NO 0 7 8 621
DET 13 7 3 326

Harrington, Lions hold off Saints

DETROIT (AP) -- Joey Harrington already had the look, the arm and the bank account of a starting NFL quarterback. Now he has a victory.

Allen's Analysis
Eric Allen
Question on the Saints: How have the Saints allowed themselves to fall behind 20-0 in the last two weeks?
Offensively, they've been lethargic. They overcame that deficit last week against the Bears, but it's tough to dig out of such a hole two weeks in a row. When you spot your opponent 20 points, it's tough to make it up against any team.

Question on the Lions: How has Harrington been able to wake up Detroit's offense the past two weeks?
Making Harrington the starter at QB has been a positive change. He's brought enthusiasm and energy. He doesn't have the pressure of playing to save his job (it's his) or to win a championship. He just has to make the Lions better than they were, which isn't too difficult. He's made wise decisions and showed improvement this week.

Eric Allen played 14 seasons in the NFL for the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

The rookie threw for 267 yards and a touchdown, and he didn't make any costly mistakes, as the Lions beat New Orleans 26-21 Sunday to hand the Saints their first loss.

Harrington gave the Lions their first win of the season and just the third in 20 games for coach Marty Mornhinweg.

On the possession that put the Lions ahead 20-0, Harrington showed why Detroit made him the third pick in the draft and signed him to a six-year, $36 million contract. He perfectly lofted a pass over Az-Zahir Hakim's shoulder for a 40-yard gain. On the next play, Harrington hit Bill Schroeder in stride for a 38-yard TD.

"Those are the best I got,'' Harrington said with the smile that helped sell his "Joey Heisman'' campaign at Oregon last season.

Harrington was 25-3 as a starter in college, and the Lions (1-3) are hoping that he's the big-game quarterback they've been longing for.

Detroit hasn't had a quarterback play in the Pro Bowl since Greg Landry in 1971, and hasn't had long-term stability at the position since Bobby Layne started from 1951 until Detroit won the NFL title in 1957. Since then, the team has used more than 20 starting quarterbacks.

"He's going to be the quarterback for the ages here,'' teammate Todd Lyght said of Harrington. "The kid is a playmaker and is a natural-born leader. I love the way he handles himself. When he tells you something, you believe in him, because when you look in his eyes, you see a guy with a ton of confidence and a lot of determination.''

Harrington was 20-of-36, didn't get sacked and didn't throw an interception after throwing four in his first start last week against Green Bay.

Chris Claiborne celebrates after stopping the Saints' two-point conversion try on Sunday.

"Young quarterbacks go on streaks, and that's what he did today,'' Mornhinweg said. "He'll have down stretches too, but today he was good.''

The Saints (3-1) fell behind 20-0 for the second straight week, but they couldn't match the comeback they staged against Chicago.

New Orleans' Deuce McAllister was held to 61 yards rushing but caught eight passes for 67 yards. And the Saints attempted their fourth-quarter comeback without standout receivers Joe Horn (knee) and Donte Stallworth (hamstring).

New Orleans cut its deficit to 20-7 late in the first half, pulled within 8 points late in the third quarter and made it 26-21 on Aaron Brooks' 6-yard pass to Jerome Pathon with 3:41 to go.

After New Orleans chose to kick deep instead of attempting an onside kick, Harrington connected with Larry Foster for a first down, and James Stewart ran for 36 yards just after the two-minute warning to seal the win.

We played good for a half, but football is 60 minutes,'' McAllister said. "We got to start playing the first half. If we come out and play and execute in the first half, it's not even a question in the end.''

Brooks was 27-of-48 for 269 yards with two touchdowns, but he lost a fumble, had two second-half interceptions in Detroit territory and was sacked three times.

After the Lions went ahead 20-0, New Orleans responded with a 12-play, 91-yard drive, capped by Brooks' 4-yarder to Stallworth. Stallworth became the first rookie to catch TD passes in his first four games since 1982.

The Saints threatened on the first possession of the second half, but Corey Harris intercepted Brooks' overthrown pass to McAllister at Detroit's 10 and returned it to New Orleans' 41.

Jason Hanson's 23-yard field goal put the Lions ahead 23-7.

Game notes

There was a moment of silence before the game to honor former Lions player Leon Hart, who passed away this past week. ... Washington's Charlie Brown caught TD passes as a rookie in his first five games in 1982. ... New Orleans' Willie Whitehead left the game with a left leg injury. ... An ankle injury sidelined Schroeder and a toe injury hobbled Hakim. ... New Orleans dropped to 13-6 on the road since Jim Haslett became coach in 2000.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Scoring Summary

Drive info: 1 plays, 23 yds, 0:00
Drive info: 1 plays, 23 yds, 0:00
Drive info: 3 plays, 80 yds, 2:03
Drive info: 3 plays, 80 yds, 2:03
detFG12:10Jason Hanson 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 6 plays, 17 yds, 2:39
detFG11:51Jason Hanson 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 7 plays, 17 yds, 3:34
detFG5:55Jason Hanson 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 7 plays, 36 yds, 3:28
detFG7:26Jason Hanson 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 7 plays, 36 yds, 2:25
noTD3:46Deuce McAllister, 12 yd run(Aaron Brooks run for 2pt conversion)
Drive info: 7 plays, 72 yds, 3:38
Drive info: 9 plays, 82 yds, 2:34
Drive info: 12 plays, 81 yds, 2:35
Drive info: 12 plays, 81 yds, 2:35