Lions struggle to hold onto ball in loss to Eagles
Jeremy Ross plowed his way through the snow, even with cleats that felt more appropriate for date night than a touchdown dance.
Ross broke free on long punt and kickoff returns, sprinting to the 50 ... the 40 ... well, it was kind of hard of tell with about 6 inches of snow blanketing Lincoln Financial Field. But he was definitely headed the right way.
There was no doubt about his landing spot - both times in the powdery end zone, with celebratory snow angels for fun.
''That was the worst I ever played in,'' Ross said. ''The snow kept clogging the bottom of my cleats. I felt like I had heels on.''
Ross didn't need snow boots, just some help from Detroit's offense. LeSean McCoy ran for a franchise-best 217 yards, including touchdowns of 57 and 40 yards, and the Philadelphia Eagles overcame Ross' two TD returns to beat the Lions 34-20 in a blizzard Sunday.
Ross returned a punt 58 yards for a score in the third quarter and ran a kickoff 98 yards in the fourth.
Talk about cold snaps. The Lions fumbled seven times, losing three, with most of them coming on jumbled exchanges. Running back Joique Bell, who started for Reggie Bush, had two fumbles in the snow. Matthew Stafford, who was 10 of 25 for 148 yards, muffed five snaps.
''It's not the same as a sunny day, that's for sure,'' Stafford said. ''But you've got to make adjustments.''
The Eagles sure did, scoring all 34 points in the second half. Playing in the same wintry mix, the Eagles recovered their only fumble.
''We were expecting the possibility of (bad) weather,'' Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. ''But even waking up this morning, coming here today, nobody was predicting 6 inches of snow, or whatever we had.''
Detroit star Calvin Johnson passed Herman Moore for most yards receiving in franchise history on a 33-yard catch to the Eagles 13 late in the first quarter. Johnson came up with a face full of snow on the play. But Bell fumbled a few plays later at the Eagles 10 and Patrick Chung recovered.
The Lions stumbled in the snow from pregame warmups. They lost Bush for the day when he fell on the slippery field during warmups and re-injured his calf. Bush leads the Lions with 854 yards rushing.
Snow began falling two hours before kickoff and intensified after the game started. Workers used shovels and hand-held blowers to clear off yard lines. Conditions were so poor neither team tried a field goal, and there were 2-point conversion attempts after seven of the eight TDs.
Philly fans that stuck this one out appeared to be having fun - some even lightly tossed snowballs at Ross after his second TD. But with temperatures in the 20s, there were some huge gaps in the second level and upper deck.
The Eagles, looking to go worst-to-first in the NFC East, won their fifth straight game and took over sole possession of first place. Dallas can make it a tie for the top spot with a victory at Chicago on Monday night.
The Lions (7-6) have a half-game lead over the Bears in the NFC North.
''It was tough handling the ball early on,'' Stafford said. ''We had a couple of turnovers, but we have to be able to overcome those. You don't want to have them, but in a story like that, early on in the game you might have some, and we have to do a better job of holding on to it.''
The Eagles finished with 299 yards rushing against a defense that didn't allow a TD on the ground in the previous eight games and came in allowing the third-fewest yards rushing per game (82.7).
''It was a big game and we didn't take advantage of the moment,'' linebacker DeAndre Levy said.
The Lions collapsed in the fourth.
McCoy ran 57 yards up the middle for a tying TD, and Nick Foles connected with Riley Cooper on the 2-point conversion. Foles sneaked in from the 1 and Chris Polk had a 38-yard touchdown run to cap a 28-point fourth quarter for the Eagles (8-5).
McCoy ran for 148 yards in the fourth quarter, and broke Hall of Famer Steve Van Buren's mark of 205 yards rushing against Pittsburgh on Nov. 27, 1949.
''He was dominant,'' McCoy said. ''It means a lot.''
NOTES: Johnson had three catches for 49 yards. ... Neither QB was sacked.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org