Steve Young of the San Francisco 49ers has been criticized for not living up to expectations since he took over for injured Joe Montana.
But Sunday against the Detroit Lions, Young gave a Montana-type performance, completing all 13 of his passes in the first half of a 35-3 victory that ended the Lions' five-game winning streak.
"I think we answered some of our own questions today," said Young, who completed his first 16 passes and finished 18 of 20 for 237 yards and two touchdowns. "We cursed each of our losses this year because they were losses we shouldn't have had. The attitude we have is to redouble our efforts."
The Lions (5-2) fell into a tie with Chicago atop the NFC Central and looked every bit like the team that hasn't had a winning season since 1983.
Barry Sanders, who had had four consecutive 100-yard games, was held to 26 yards in seven carries by a defense that allowed 39 points to Atlanta last week.
"We came 3,000 miles to play a very poor game," said Detroit Coach Wayne Fontes, whose team lost for the first time since a 45-0 season-opening defeat to Washington. "We're not the same old Lions. We're not going to fold our tents. It's just a loss. Just like the Washington game, except that we're a better team now than when we played Washington."
The 49ers (3-4) put a temporary end to the squabbling and finger-pointing that has plagued the four-time Super Bowl champions, who lost Montana because of an elbow injury before the season started. Montana underwent surgery 10 days ago and is lost for the season.
"It's a step right now and nothing more," said 49er Coach George Seifert, whose team now plays three consecutive road games. "To give it meaning, we've got to play as we did or better. We're heading into a gantlet a little bit."
Young's two-yard touchdown pass to Jerry Rice 49 seconds before halftime gave the 49ers a 21-3 halftime lead. Young also connected with Mike Sherrard on a 22-yard touchdown pass play in the third quarter, and scrambled seven times for 40 yards before being lifted after the third quarter for Steve Bono.
Tom Rathman scored on runs of one and two yards and Harry Sydney had an 11-yard touchdown run in a 21-point second quarter.
The 49ers scored on five of their first six possessions. Their only failure came during their first possession when Keith Henderson, who rushed for 104 yards in 20 carries, fumbled at the Detroit 19.
The 49ers outgained the Lions, 133-5, in the first quarter and held Detroit without a first down as neither quarterback Rodney Peete nor Sanders could get untracked.