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Published: Monday, 10/20/2003

Dallas demolishes Detroit after early deficit

Lions quarterback Mike McMahon takes a hit from Dallas' Roy Williams while trying to recover his own fumble. Lions quarterback Mike McMahon takes a hit from Dallas' Roy Williams while trying to recover his own fumble.

DETROIT - The booing from the crowd at Ford Field started during the first half of yesterday's game between the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys.

The noise steadily grew louder as the game progressed. It resonated at its highest pitch when Dallas' Mario Edwards picked off a Joey Harrington pass intended for Bill Schroeder and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown with 4:20 left in the first half.

Edwards' interception signaled the end for Detroit as Dallas roared to a resound-ing 38-7 thumping of the Lions.

“It was very obvious to everybody they manhandled us,” Detroit coach Steve Mariucci said. “They beat us on both sides of the football. We couldn't stop them on defense and we couldn't make any first downs on offense.

“If it wasn't for Dre' Bly's fumble return, we'd get no points out of the deal, and I take full responsibility for the production of our football team.”

Bly picked up a fumble by Dallas' Troy Hambrick and returned it 67 yards for a touchdown to give Detroit a 7-0 lead with 8:23 to play in the first quarter. What followed the quick start by the Lions was an even quicker unraveling for Detroit.

Dallas' Dexter Coakley (52) tries to shed Detroit's Ray Brown following an interception. Dallas' Dexter Coakley (52) tries to shed Detroit's Ray Brown following an interception.

The Cowboys (5-1) proceeded to score 38 unanswered points to hand Detroit (1-5) its worst defeat of the season.

“As you can see we have a long way to go,” said Mariucci, who is in his first year as the Lions' coach. “We're going to find out what kind of competitors we have here. We are going to need to be very resourceful and find a way to get the most out of the players we have healthy. We are going to have to put them in a position to succeed. I take full responsibility for those things.

“I don't remember [being involved in] a game quite like that. We took the early lead and then from there it was downhill.”

Edwards' first interception of the season gave Dallas a cozy 28-7 lead it took into halftime. More significantly, his precise read of Harrington's ill-advised pass into double coverage marked a short work day for the Lions' second-year quarterback while perhaps creating another Lions QB controversy.

Harrington completed five of 13 passes for 30 yards while tossing two interceptions. His quarterback rating was a dreadful 7.1. Mariucci called on backup Mike McMahon to replace Harrington on Detroit's next offensive series.

“I just thought we needed a jump-start in one way or another,” said Mariucci. “It's not just Joey at quarterback. He needs help. He hasn't been productive for us, [but] we need better protection and a more effective run game. I thought maybe we could get some sort of spark.”

Harrington didn't agree with Mariucci's decision to bench him.

“I made two bad decisions and I put the defense in a terrible position and they scored points,” Harrington said. “There is no way around that. But as a competitor and someone who takes pride in his work I wanted to be out there to make it right. I wanted to get out there and get a chance to correct it and I didn't. That's part of the game and that's coach's decision.”

McMahon received a loud round of applause from the crowd when he trotted onto the field for the first time. However, the pleasantries were brief for the former starting QB. He heard his share of boos after the Lions continued to struggle offensively.

Dallas cornerback Mario Edwards leaps over the Lions' Joey Harrington en route to a TD after an interception. Dallas cornerback Mario Edwards leaps over the Lions' Joey Harrington en route to a TD after an interception.

McMahon completed only five of 20 passes for 51 yards. He threw an interception and lost a fumble to register a quarterback rating of 18.8.

“Everyone always says, `Be ready, be ready,' and that's a thing that just happens,” McMahon said. “When that time is called upon, you have to be ready and I think I was.”

By the time McMahon had called out his first cadence the damage had already been done and Detroit was well on its way to dropping its fifth straight contest after opening the season with a 42-24 win over Arizona to christen Mariucci's reign as coach.

While the Cowboys' defense was holding the Lions' offense scoreless, the Cowboys' offense clicked like never before under first-year coach Bill Parcells.

Quincy Carter-to-Terry Glenn looked like Troy Aikman-to-Michael Irvin from back in the day. The Carter-Glenn tandem teamed up for three first-half touchdowns.

The first came with 4:58 to play in the first quarter as Carter capped a six-play, 78-yard drive with a 20-yard strike to Glenn to make it a 7-7 contest. Carter, who entered the game having thrown more interceptions (5) than touchdowns (4), would find Glenn on touchdown passes of 19 and 8 yards in the second quarter to give Dallas a 21-7 advantage.

Carter, who completed 18 of 25 passes for 190 yards, finished with a quarterback rating of 133.3.

But he was more than willing to share the credit for the victory.

“One thing as a quarterback is that sometimes you get a little bit too much credit and sometimes you get too much of the blame when things go wrong,” Carter said. “In order for me to be successful I have to realize that there are 10 other guys playing with me who have to do their jobs, too.”

Edwards' interception all but sealed the victory before halftime, and much of the announced crowd of 61,160 had emptied out by the start of the fourth quarter.

“This was a different locker room today, not like the ones after the close losses in San Francisco [24-17] and Denver [20-16],” Mariucci said. “We didn't play well today. It's going to be like a gut check. We are going to find out a lot about ourselves.

“Who works hard, who improves, who doesn't point fingers, who ends up being a guy we can count on now and in the future.”

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