Lions roar past Cards; end five-game skid

NFL.com wire reports

DETROIT (Dec. 5, 2004) -- Kevin Jones played like the running back the Detroit Lions have been searching for since Barry Sanders abruptly retired five years ago.

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

Arizona (4-8) lost their third straight with their 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-39 for 168 yards with a TD.

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.

Since Detroit decided to get Jones the ball more - after having him share carries with two others - he has showed why the Lions traded up into the first round to draft him 30th overall this year.

With a blend of speed, power and crafty moves, Jones fell 1 yard short of Mel Farr's rookie rushing record for the Lions - set in 1967 - and surpassed Sanders' best day as a rookie in 1989 by 12 yards. Jones' day on the ground was Detroit's best since Sanders' 216-yard rushing game in 1997.

He got 26 carries against the Cardinals. In the three previous games, Jones had 280 yards rushing on 50 carries after carrying the ball no more than 15 times and running for no more than 65 yards in the first eight games.

Jones' 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.

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.

Arizona coach Dennis Green chose to play Navarre instead of healthy quarterbacks Josh McCown and Shaun King and the decision backfired. 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 caught a break.

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.

The Cardinals responded on the ensuing possession with an 80-yard drive capped by Navarre's first NFL TD pass.

Navarre was hit as he threw a 33-yard pass to Freddie Jones, who broke two tackles on his way to the end zone. Navarre threw an incomplete pass on a 2-point conversion, making the score 14-12.

Hanson's 45-yard field goal midway through the third quarter gave Detroit a 17-12 lead.

Navarre threw interceptions on Arizona's next two possessions - both in Cardinals territory - but Detroit only had one field goal to show for it.

Hanson kicked a field goal late in the third and two more in the fourth.