Harrington threw a career-high four touchdown passes to lead the Lions past the Arizona Cardinals 42-24 Sunday, spoiling Emmitt Smith's first game with his new team and Anquan Boldin's record-setting day.
"Everyone wanted to see what would happen with Coach Mariucci handling things," Harrington said. "I don't think it could've been much better."
Boldin caught 10 passes for 217 yards, a record for a rookie in his debut, and two touchdowns. Boldin, a second-round pick from Florida State, broke the record set by Washington's Hugh Taylor, who had 212 yards against Philadelphia on Sept. 28, 1947.
"Right now, I don't think I can enjoy it," Boldin said. "I would give those stats back for the win."
Lions defensive end Robert Porcher said if he were Smith, he would've retired in Dallas after breaking Walter Payton's NFL rushing record last year.
Smith may have thought the same thing after he gained just 4 yards on his first five carries without a blue star on his helmet. He is playing on a poor team after winning three Super Bowls, one MVP award and one Super Bowl MVP trophy in 13 seasons with the Cowboys.
Smith ran for 64 yards on 13 carries, extending his rushing record to 17,226.
"I don't like to talk about myself," Smith said. "This is a team game."
It was a close game for almost three quarters between two teams expected to be among the NFL's worst until the Lions scored three TDs -- including one on a punt return, another on an interception return -- in about seven minutes.
Mariucci has created excitement after returning to his home state following his firing in San Francisco, where he was 60-43 with three playoff wins over six seasons. Detroit was 5-27 under Marty Mornhinweg for the worst two-year mark in team history.
"This is the beginning of what I have spent the last seven months waiting for," Mariucci said. "It's great to be home."
Harrington was 17-of-30 for 195 yards and no turnovers. The third pick in last year's draft is the first Lions quarterback to throw four TDs since Scott Mitchell against Chicago in 1996.
Rookie Charles Rogers had four receptions for 38 yards and two scores, one on a highlight-worthy dive. He was fully extended on a 13-yard pass from Harrington to put the Lions ahead 14-7 early in the second quarter.
Detroit made Rogers the second selection overall this year, hoping he would be the big-play threat it has lacked since Barry Sanders retired just before the 1999 season.
After Sunday's game, Rogers was sporting one of Sanders' No. 20 jerseys.
"I'm not going to say I'm the next Barry Sanders," Rogers said. "I'm just going to be the best Charles Rogers can be."
The Lions missed James Stewart, out for the year with a dislocated shoulder.
Rogers, who ran for 12 yards on an end-around, was Detroit's leading rusher until Olandis Gary gained 19 yards late in the game.
Arizona's Jeff Blake, who replaced Jake Plummer, was 28-of-46 for 316 yards with three TDs. But he had an interception returned for a score and a fumble that set up another TD.
The Cardinals took a 21-14 lead on the first drive of the second half on a short pass to Boldin, who juked Andre Goodman, then raced 71 yards.
Detroit's Eddie Drummond returned a punt 57 yards to tie the game at 21. The Lions went ahead on Harrington's 8-yard pass to a wide-open Cory Schlesinger late in the third quarter.
Bill Gramatica kicked a field goal on the next possession, but then Blake's turnovers ended Arizona's hopes.
After Blake fumbled, Harrington showed poise on a 5-yard TD pass to Bill Schroeder. On the ensuing possession, Detroit's No. 1 free-agent acquisition, cornerback Dre' Bly, returned an interception 48 yards to end the scoring.
- Arizona OG Leonard Davis and WR Larry Foster left the game with ankle injuries.
- Mariucci gave game balls to Lions fans and owner William Clay Ford.
- The Cardinals scored on their season-opening drive -- on Blake's 7-yard pass to Boldin - for the first time since 1997.
- Boldin's performance was second in team history behind Sonny Randle's 256 yards against the New York Giants in 1962.
The Associated Press News Service
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