DETROIT (AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are turning a miserable season into something a bit more positive.
They took advantage of Lions mistakes in a game with six lead changes Sunday to beat Detroit 24-21. Matthew Stafford’s fourth interception went in and out of Calvin Johnson’s hands inside the Tampa Bay 5 in the final minute, allowing the Bucs to hold on. Tampa Bay (3-8) has won three straight after losing its first eight, joining the 1978 St. Louis Cardinals as the only NFL team to do that.
Bucs rookie Mike Glennon avoided miscues. Glennon was 14 of 21 for 247 yards and threw two touchdowns to Tiquan Underwood, whose second score was an 85-yard reception early in the fourth quarter. Glennon had a season-high 138.4 quarterback rating.
The Lions (6-5) have lost two straight for the first time this season. They can blame five turnovers for throwing away a chance to improve their playoff positioning.
Tampa Bay rookie Johnthan Banks made the critical pick at the end of the game.
Glennon couldn’t rely on the running game he’s had lately because Bobby Rainey was held to 35 yards on 15 carries; he had 163 yards rushing and scored three times in last week’s win over Atlanta. Glennon, a third-round pick, also didn’t have go-to receiver Vincent Jackson open very often. But he didn’t force the ball as he almost played mistake-free football.
Stafford was 26 of 46 for 297 yards with three TDs. He connected with Nate Burleson, Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria for scores, but couldn’t overcome his interceptions.
The last one was not Stafford’s fault. Johnson had the ball briefly before Kelcie McCray jarred it loose and Banks caught it out of the air.
Stafford also was picked off when Pettigrew ducked when a pass came his way and Leonard Johnson returned it 48 yards for a go-ahead score late in the first half. Stafford’s first interception in Tampa Bay territory caromed off Burleson, who was playing for the first time since breaking his left arm in a one-car crash two months ago.
Stafford, though, had no one to blame for floating a pass into the middle of the end zone toward Calvin Johnson. Safety Keith Tandy easily intercepted it in the third quarter. Johnson had seven receptions for 115 yards, but he and the Lions didn’t take advantage of the Bucs playing the second half without cornerback Darrelle Revis. Reggie Bush had 100 yards of offense for the Lions.
Tampa Bay started the game without two key players in the middle of its defense, suspended safety Dashon Goldson and injured middle linebacker Mason Foster. Revis, who did a relatively good job against Johnson, holding him to four receptions for 61 yards in the first half, didn’t play after halftime because of a groin injury.