Gary Danielson threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Leonard Thompson 4:34 into overtime to give the Detroit Lions a 13-7 victory today over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Thompson's touchdown came at the end of a 59-yard, four-play drive that began when Tampa Bay's James Wilder lost his second fumble of the game. The Lions (2-5) had lost four games in a row.
"I probably wanted to win this one more than any game I ever wanted to win," said Danielson, who came into the contest after starter Eric Hipple was injured midway through the first half. "I told everybody when we went into overtime, 'What's the difference between 1-6 and 2-5?' There was no pressure."
His coach, Monte Clark, knew the difference. "We wouldn't want to find out what happened if we lost another game," he said. "I just hated to think of losing today."
Danielson was benched by Clark in favor of Hipple after starting all other games for the Lions this season. Clark said he made the move because Danielson had a leg injury and because he was unhappy with Detroit's 1-5 start. Danielson criticized his coach for using the injury as an excuse.
"All week long, I've made an ass out of myself in the papers, but I thought I was telling the truth," Danielson said. "I was hoping I'd get the opportunity to play today, and I did."
During the game-winning drive, Billy Sims ran for eight yards, giving him 100 yards in 16 carries for the game. He has 5,003 career yards, 11 behind the Lions' rushing mark held by Dexter Bussey.
Tampa Bay (3-4), which blew an opportunity to win when Obed Ariri missed on a 42-yard field goal attempt as time ran out in regulation, won the toss and drove to Detroit's 39 before Wilder fumbled and the Lions recovered the ball.