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Lions Feast On Vikings


Jason Hanson snatched away Jeff George bid for a comeback victory.

Hanson's sixth field goal of the day, a 48-yarder with 7 seconds remaining, lifted the Detroit Lions to a 25-23 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, the second straight week they lost by two points.

Still, George came so tantalizingly close to getting Minnesota back on track that the Vikings (2-4) are going to give him another chance. He'll start next Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers.

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Game Summary

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  • "That doesn't mean that everything that's not gone right is Randall Cunningham's fault," coach Dennis Green said. "But we are 2-4 and we are one-third of the way through the NFL season."

    The Vikings, who trailed 19-0 at halftime, took a 23-22 lead on Gary Anderson's 26-yard field goal with 1:40 remaining.

    Hanson, whose previous high was four field goals, matched a club record with six for the Lions (3-2), whose only touchdown came on Terry Fair's 41-yard interception return in the first quarter.

    "I wish it never came down to me, actually, but that's what the game is about," Hanson said. "I just think about making sure I put a good hit on it and focus as hard as I can and don't miss."

    "You get nervous, but you've got to kick it while you're nervous."

    George, who started the second half in relief of an ineffective Cunningham, had attempted just one pass all season. George completed 10 of 12 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns.

    "I've been on the other side," George said. "I love Randall. He's my friend. We're in this together."

    Cunningham continued to struggle, completng 10 of 15 passes for 78 yards with one interception in the first half. He said he agreed with Green's decision to go with George.

    "One thing for sure is our offense is not being run the way it should be run with me in there," Cunningham said. "That's why Jeff should be in there."

    "I told Denny I understand it. I'm an old guy. I want to win a Super Bowl as bad as anybody in this locker room. But it's not my time. It's Jeff's time, and I'm going to support him 100 percent."

    In just 5:44 of the third quarter, George turned a 19-0 rout into a thriller with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Cris Carter and a 36-yarder to Randy Moss.

    The Lions, meanwhile, also made a quarterback change, starting the second half with Gus Frerotte after Charlie Batch, who was 9-of-16 for just 70 yards, bruised his upper right arm.

    Frerotte completed 15 of 24 passes for 140 yards in the second half, including five straight completions for 45 yards during the Lions' 43-yard drive to set up Hanson's winning field goal.

    "We were in dire shape when we lost Charlie and Ray Roberts," Lions coach Bobby Ross said. "They didn't tell me at halftime that Charlie couldn't go. I didn't find out until we were ready to start the half."

    After Hanson missed a 49-yard field goal attempt with 1:13 left in the third quarter, George took the Vikings 60 yards in five plays for the go-ahead touchdown.

    A 23-yard pass to Jake Reed gave the Vikings a first down at the Lions' 2 and Leroy Hoard punched it in on the next snap for a 20-19 lead with 13:30 left in the fourth quarter. The try on the 2-point conversion failed.

    Hanson's 47-yard field goal put Detroit back on top 22-20 with 7:06 remaining.

    But George had a 38-yard completion to Reed in a 71-yard drive that set up Anderson's 26-yarder for the 23-22 lead. Still, some of the Vikings felt they should have gone for a touchdown instead of settling for that field goal.

    "I wanted a touchdown," said Moss, who had 10 receptions for 125 yards. "We were catching everything. But, that's no my decision."

    "Last year's team went for everything."

    Last year's Vikings went 15-1, a record that now seems to hang on them like a lead weight.

    "Luckily, there's 10 games left," George said. "Who's to say we won't reel off eight or nine straight wins now?"

    On the winning field goal, Hanson was good fro 43 yards out, but officials waved it off, flagging the Lions for delay. Then the Vikings called timeout in an effort to test Hanson's nerves before he hit the winner.

    "I was able to get back in my routine," Hanson said. "That's the advantage of being a veteran kicker."

    Hanson also kicked field goals of 21, 49, 29, 30 and 47 yards, matching the franchise record of six by Garo Yepremian at Minnesota on Nov. 13, 1966. Hanson's previous best was four against Pittsburgh last Thanksgiving.

    The Vikings, who turned the ball over five times a week earlier in a 24-22 loss to Chicago, had five against the Lions, too, three in the first half.

    Notes

  • The Lions gave a game ball to former linebacker Reggie Brown, whose career was cut short by a neck injury two years ago. Brown, who lives in Texas, was in town for a game last season, too, but the Lions lost that day.
  • George hadn't thrown two touchdown passes in a game since he had three against Seattle on December 14, 1997.
  • Fair's two interceptions were the first of his two-year career.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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