Fullback James Jones, coming back from a thigh injury, rushed for a career-high 116 yards and a touchdown and Ed Murray kicked three field goals as the Detroit Lions defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 23-21, in an NFL game today.
The Lions ground out 162 yards and 11 first downs rushing, not great by most standards. But compared with no first downs rushing a week ago and 84 yards on the ground in the last two games combined, it was good enough for Coach Darryl Rogers.
"We haven't been able to run against anyone else," Rogers said. "We had J.J. back and were able to get him the ball. When you get a first down, you get three more plays. We hadn't been getting first downs before and we did today."
The victory left the Lions at 4-3 after a 2-0 start. The 49ers (3-4) lost for the second straight week.
"It was a difficult loss for us, for our team and our organization," said 49ers Coach Bill Walsh. "It seems like week after week I have to stand here and congratulate our opponent for playing a good game, for not making mistakes and taking advantage of ours."
Jones, who carried the ball 30 times, scored from two yards out early in the second quarter. Murray kicked field goals of 24 and 41 yards in the second quarter and added a 45-yarder near the end of the third period as Detroit built a 23-14 lead.
San Francisco pulled to within 23-21 early in the fourth quarter when Roger Craig ran 11 yards into the end zone to cap a 10-play, 95-yard drive.
The Lions opened the scoring 1:42 into the game when Pete Mandley returned Max Runager's punt 63 yards up the left sideline.
Quarterback Joe Montana answered with a keeper from one yard out as the 49ers went 13 plays in 70 yards on their next possession to tie the game, 7-7.
The 49ers scored on a gift with 34 seconds left in the first quarter when Lions punter Mike Black dropped the ball in his end zone and San Francisco guard Guy McIntyre fell on it for a 14-7 lead.