<
>

Thanks to Jones, Lions snap 5-game skid

DETROIT (AP) -- Kevin Jones refused to even crack a smile when
told he accomplished something Barry Sanders didn't as a Detroit
Lions rookie.

The running back insists his goals are loftier.

Jones ran for 196 yards and a touchdown to lead Detroit over the
Arizona Cardinals 26-12 Sunday, ending the Lions' five-game losing
streak and keeping their playoff hopes alive in the muddled and
mediocre NFC.

"We needed this real bad," Jones said. "If we lost, we had no
chance for the playoffs."

Jones fell 1 yard short of Mel Farr's rookie rushing record for
the Lions -- set in 1967 -- but surpassed Sanders' best day as a
rookie in 1989 by 12 yards.

"I'm just trying to get 1,000 yards and get us in the
playoffs," said Jones, who has 703 yards rushing this season.

Jason Hanson was 4-for-4 on field goals and Dre' Bly had two
interceptions for the Lions (5-7), who took command of the game in
the third quarter and coasted in the fourth.

Arizona (4-8) lost its third straight with its third quarterback
in four weeks. Rookie John Navarre, who hadn't taken a snap in the
regular season, threw four interceptions and was 18-of-40 for 168
yards with a TD.

Navarre, who jammed the ring finger on his throwing hand on
Arizona's second series, said he tried to force plays that weren't
there.

"I've got to learn from it, take this film, study it and
correct my mistakes and not repeat them," said Navarre, the
seventh former Michigan quarterback to start an NFL game over the
past two decades.

With a blend of speed, power and crafty moves, Jones gave
Detroit something it has been searching for since Sanders abruptly
retired five years ago. The Lions traded up into the first round to
draft the former Virginia Tech star 30th overall.

Since Detroit decided to get Jones the ball more -- after having
him share carries with two others -- he has provided a desperately
needed running threat. In the last four games, Jones has 476 yards
rushing on 76 carries after getting no more than 15 carries or 65
yards in any of the first eight games.

"He's showing why we drafted him and moved up to get him,"
Lions coach Steve Mariucci said.

Jones, who had a season-high 26 carries, put together Detroit's
best game on the ground since Sanders' 216-yard rushing game in
1997. His highlight against Arizona was a 74-yard run, a record for
a Detroit rookie and the team's longest since Sanders had an
80-yard run in 1997.

"They are giving me the ball, and I'm getting better," Jones
said. "It builds up my confidence that the coaches feel I can get
the job done and keep feeding me the ball."

A rookie also started at running back for the Cardinals.

Larry Croom played for Emmitt Smith, who was out with a toe
injury after starting every other game this season. Croom ran for
49 yards on 18 carries.

"If you don't stop the run, you have a hard time winning,"
Arizona coach Dennis Green said. "If you can't run the ball
yourself, you have a hard time winning."

Green chose to play Navarre instead of healthy quarterbacks Josh
McCown and Shaun King and despite his rough outing, he's sticking
with him.

"I imagine John will start next week against San Francisco,"
Green said.

Navarre helped the Cardinals take a 3-0 lead on their first
possession, but they lost the lead late in the first quarter for
good and Navarre was unable to avoid mistakes.

Detroit's Joey Harrington was 15-of-27 for 196 yards with one TD
and one interception and Roy Williams caught four passes for 76
yards.

Jones gave the Lions a 14-6 lead midway through the second
quarter on a 2-yard run, two plays after they might have turned the
ball over.

Green wanted to review Williams' 45-yard catch because it
appeared that he fumbled before his knee was down, but the
officials told Green he couldn't challenge it because the play was
ruled down by contact.

"We got a break there I thought," Mariucci said.

Game notes
Smith, the NFL's all-time leading rusher, said it was too
early to say whether he would play against the 49ers. ... The Lions
are 15-2 when Hanson makes at least four field goals. ... Detroit's
Tai Streets caught his first TD pass of the season. ... The six
previous Michigan QBs to start in the NFL over the last two decades
are: Drew Henson, Tom Brady, Brian Griese, Todd Collins, Elvis
Grbac and Jim Harbaugh.