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Leinart picks up first win as Cardinals top Lions

Nov 20, 2006 - 12:15 AM GLENDALE, Arizona (Ticker) -- Rookie Matt Leinart showed the Detroit Lions why they should have drafted him last spring.

Leinart threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score as the Cardinals snapped an eight-game losing streak with a 17-10 victory over the Lions.

Sparked by Edgerrin James and Anquan Boldin, Arizona (2-8) picked up its first win since a season-opening victory against San Francisco.

"It has been a long time. In eight games we played a number of decent games," Cardinals coach Dennis Green said. "With the exception of Dallas last week, Chicago, Kansas City, St. Louis, San Francisco, we played decent in front of the home crowd. We didn't play decent enough, we have only two wins."

With a glaring need at quarterback, Detroit passed on a chance at selecting Leinart, the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner who led Southern California to back-to-back national championships and went 37-2 as a starter.

However on Sunday, Leinart victimized the Lions for his first career win, completing 19-for-29 passes for 233 yards. He hit Bryant Johnson with a two-yard scoring pass with 6:28 left in the first quarter and scored on a nine-yard run three minutes into the third quarter to stake Arizona to a 17-0 lead.

"It is a big relief. I thought our offensive line did great," Leinart said. "I thought we ran the ball great. I struggled but I am my own worse critic out there. I am so happy we got the win and stuck it out. I am excited to finally get the first win. It is finally going to give us some confidence knowing that we can play."

James rushed for 96 yards on 22 carries and Boldin had five catches for 87 yards. After signing a four-year, $30 million deal with the Cards in the offseason, James has yet to record a 100-yard game.

"It is cool to finally get a win but we still have a long way to go," James said. "It is a start. The line is doing a whole lot better and we simplified the run and game plan. Whatever we pretty much called, we were able to do something with. We did what it took to win the game."

Reserve Arlen Harris rushed for a touchdown for Detroit (2-7), which failed in a bid for consecutive wins for the first time this season. Starting running back Kevin Jones left in the first quarter with a sprained right ankle.

"The injuries are hard but nobody wants to hear excuses," Lions coach Rod Marinelli said. "It is frustrating though, no question. Anytime you lose one of your best players (Kevin Jones), it is going to affect you but Arlen (Harris) came in and played great."

Detroit moved the ball well throughout the game, but came up short when it got into the red zone.

"We got there (red zone) three times, turned it over once and got only 10 points out of it," Marinelli said. "We had 1st-and-goal on the 1 and went back 13 yards. I am not sure what the answer is. Getting down there three times is not what you want to do to win football games.

"We had seen a couple of different things on film and thought we could take advantage of them so we threw a screen but their guys didn't chase it like we thought they would."

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