DETROIT (Oct. 15, 2006) -- Roy Williams and Kevin Jones ended Rod Marinelli's long wait for a win.
"I'm glad we got this because the coaching staff has really been under the microscope and they don't deserve that," Jones said.
Instead of the late mistakes that have cost the Lions in four of five opening losses, they made clutch plays on both sides of the ball to give Marinelli victory No. 1 as an NFL head coach. Marinelli had to bide his time for more than three decades to be a head coach at any level, and the Lions made him wait just a little longer for his first victory.
When the former Tampa Bay defensive line coach saw the final seconds tick off the clock, he smiled and walked across the field to shake Dick Jauron's hand, the Buffalo coach, who ended last season as the interim coach in Detroit.
"It's been a long time coming for him, but it's the first of many," Williams said.
Marinelli wouldn't even acknowledge that he enjoyed the moment for a fleeting second.
"It's the process," he said -- repeatedly.
The Vietnam veteran, whose passion has been well received by his team, said he would probably put his first game ball in his locker.
"Those things are nice, but it's not why I'm in it," Marinelli said.
"These things are big because every week it comes down to this," Marinelli said.
Jason Hanson's 29-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter put the Lions ahead by 10. Detroit had to cling to the slim lead after J.P. Losman's 4-yard TD pass to Ryan Neufeld made it 20-17 on the next drive.
Jones helped seal the victory with a shifty move on a third-down reception, which helped Detroit hold onto the ball long enough to punt it with 22 seconds left.
"Really with the way the stats were in the first half, it was hard to believe we were in the game right until the end," Jauron said. "So I guess if there's one good thing it's for our guys finding a way to stay in it and have a chance."
Detroit's Jon Kitna was 24-of-36 for 278 yards with a TD and an interception.
Losman was 21-of-34 for 207 yards with two TDs and an interception. He lost one of his top targets, Roscoe Parrish, to a hamstring injury after he scored a second-quarter TD.
Willis McGahee, who began the day with an AFC-high 439 yards rushing, was held to 66 yards on 17 carries.
By stunting Buffalo's running game, the Lions put pressure on Losman when he had to throw in third-and-long situations. They had five sacks, including James Hall's career-high 3 1/2.
"They did a good job of mixing it up," Losman said. "They gave us multiple looks -- taking away the run, taking away the pass."
After Losman's pass was intercepted by Terrence Holt and returned to Detroit's 30, Hanson was just short on a 56-yard field goal.
The Bills took advantage of having good field position for the first time. Losman scrambled and threw a perfect pass on the run, a 44-yard connection with Parrish that made it 10-7.
Terrence McGee's 72-yard return on the ensuing kickoff set up Rian Lindell's 53-yard field goal on the final play of the half.
Parrish did not play in the second half and C Melvin Fowler (quadriceps) was injured. ... Detroit FB Shawn Bryson (knee) was hurt enough to make Marinelli worried while LB Ernie Sims (elbow) left the game, but said he was OK. ... A day after the Tigers won the AL pennant next door at Comerica Park, manager Jim Leyland was at the game as were players Brandon Inge and Craig Monroe, who drew loud cheers when shown on the videoboards.