Mark Nichols found a sure-fire cure for his blues Sunday.
Detroit’s wide receiver, who hadn’t caught a pass all season, grabbed two for touchdowns as the Lions beat Tampa Bay, 30-9, to keep the Buccaneers winless after four weeks of play.
The Lions, rebounding from a 14-6 loss to Indianapolis last week, improved their record to 3-1.
“I’ve been feeling pretty down,” said Nichols, who was in for just three snaps during each of the Lions’ two previous games. “My wife (Terris) and I have been talking about it. She’s helped me keep my spirits up.
“You know, I was a first-round draft choice (out of San Diego State in 1981), but now we’ve got new coaches and new ways of doing things.”
Nichols, turning in the first two-touchdown game of his pro career, finished with four catches for 35 yards, including touchdown receptions of four and nine yards from Eric Hipple.
“This really gives my confidence a boost,” he said.
Hipple scored Detroit’s other touchdown on a one-yard plunge with 1:57 remaining. Eddie Murray kicked field goals of 22, 33 and 39 yards to account for the rest of the Detroit scoring.
Field goals of 21, 32 and 20 yards by Donald Igwebuike accounted for all of the Tampa Bay scoring.
“Mark’s got all the tools,” Hipple said. “Who knows, maybe now that he’s had a shot of confidence, he’ll take off.”
“We played a better football team today that was just that much better than us,” Tampa Bay Coach Leeman Bennett said. “They played much better and moved the ball well when they had to. I was impressed with them.”
Hipple completed 19 of 31 pass attempts for 250 yards. Tampa Bay quarterback Steve DeBerg was 19 of 31 for 193 yards.
“The key was that Detroit stopped us from scoring touchdowns,” DeBerg said. “Because, I mean, we were down there. If we had come away with touchdowns instead of field goals, I believe it might have turned out differently.”
Tampa Bay’s James Wilder, who leads the NFL in rushing, turned in his sixth consecutive 100-yard-plus game, finishing with 104 yards in 27 carries. He also caught seven passes for another 57 yards.
The game drew only 45,023 fans in the Silverdome. There were 5,456 no-shows.