Finally, there is separation at the top of the NFC Central Division.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers set a franchise record with their sixth straight victory with a 23-16, come-from-behind win over the Detroit Lions today.
Rookie quarterback Shaun King won his second start in six days in place of the injured Trent Dilfer. King played with poise that belied his inexperience, completing 23 of 37 passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns.
Mike Alstott's one-yard touchdown run capped a nine-play, 65-yard drive that pulled Tampa Bay to a 16-16 tie with 9 minutes 26 seconds remaining. Alstott scored again five minutes later on a 22-yard screen pass that was set up by John Lynch's 28-yard interception return.
King led the Buccaneers past Minnesota, 24-17, in his first pro start on Monday, knocking the Vikings out of a share of the NFC Central lead. Tampa Bay (9-4) is alone in first in the division with three weeks remaining.
"We're in a great situation right now," Alstott said.
Detroit (8-5) fell a game behind the Buccaneers, who trailed 10-0 before King jump-started the offense with a screen pass to Warrick Dunn that gained 68 yards, setting up a three-yard touchdown pass to rookie Kevin McLeod.
Detroit's Gus Frerotte was 23 of 44 for 241 yards and an interception. Greg Hill scored on a 10-yard run, but was held to 25 yards on 10 carries after gaining 123 yards on 16 attempts during the Lions' 20-3 victory over Tampa Bay Oct. 31.
Jason Hanson's 37-yard field goal put Detroit up, 3-0, five minutes into the first quarter. Frerotte directed a six-play, 89-yard drives on the next possession to make it 10-0.
The big play in the drive was a 48-yard completion to Johnnie Morton, who got behind cornerback Ronde Barber to make the catch before falling at the Tampa Bay 22. Three plays later, Hill scored on a 10-yard touchdown run.
Detroit's Robert Porcher had three sacks.