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Lions beat Garcia and Bucs 23-16

DETROIT — Jeff Garcia suddenly had trouble protecting the football, and the Detroit Lions took full advantage.

The Lions scored touchdowns after Garcia's two fumbles, including wide receiver Calvin Johnson's 32-yard run midway through the fourth quarter, to beat their former teammate and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23-16 on Sunday.

Detroit (4-2) pulled within a game of idle Green Bay in the NFC North, while Tampa Bay (4-3) lost a chance to move past idle Carolina in the NFC South.

Garcia, who played in Detroit for one forgettable season two years ago, didn't have a turnover in his first six games with the Bucs.

Perhaps pressing against one of his former teams, he botched a handoff in Detroit territory in the first quarter. He also mishandled a snap on a first-and-goal when the Bucs were a yard away from pulling within two points early in the fourth.

Johnson, the No. 2 pick in the draft, broke a few tackles on an end-around to give the Lions a 23-7 lead with 6:28 left.

But the Bucs hung around.

Garcia connected with Maurice Stovall on a 4-yard pass, then after the 2-point conversion failed, Tampa Bay got the ball back on a unique onside kick. The Bucs bunched up near the hash marks and Matt Bryant's low kick ricocheted off a Lions player, and Torrie Cox recovered it.

Bryant's 48-yard kick with 1:04 to go pulled Tampa Bay within seven, but its rally ended when Casey FitzSimmons recovered an onside kick.

Garcia finished 37-of-45 for a season-high 316 yards with two TDs and kept his streak alive without an interception, dating to last season when he was playing for Philadelphia.

Kevin Jones, getting his first start of the season, ran for 76 yards and a TD after Garcia's first fumble.

Detroit's Jon Kitna was 16-of-20 for 147 yards without a score or a turnover.

Kitna's chances to make plays were limited by Tampa Bay's methodical offense.

Garcia completed 18 straight passes in the first half, setting a franchise record for consecutive completions in a game, and Earnest Graham had 92 yards rushing.

He has thrown 270 passes without an interception, including attempts in the postseason last season for the Eagles, for the longest active streak.

The game got off to an eventful start.

Bucs receiver Michael Clayton hurt his ankle on a 20-yard catch, then Detroit's Shaun Rogers and Tampa Bay's Jeremy Trueblood were flagged for being in the middle of a skirmish — with Rogers helmetless and yanking Trueblood's facemask.

Two plays later, Garcia was sacked and fumbled, but the Bucs had the play reviewed and it was reversed because the referee ruled it was an incomplete pass. Two plays later, Corey Smith blocked a punt.

Detroit benefited from an overturned call on the ensuing possession, negating Kitna's fumble and a 79-yard return for a score — allowing Jason Hanson to kick a 34-yard field goal.

Garcia then drove the Bucs down the field, only to fumble as Rogers recovered it and ran him over on the short return.

The Lions then went ahead 10-0 on Jones' 1-yard run.

Garcia completed seven passes on the next drive, including a 5-yard TD pass to Ike Hilliard to pull within three.

The Bucs marched down the field the next time they had the ball, but one of their six penalties in the first half pushed them back and led to Bryant missing a 40-yard attempt.

Hanson's 42-yard kick in the final seconds of the half put Detroit ahead 13-7, and his third field goal midway through the third quarter gave it a nine-point lead.