Joey Harrington Returns to Detroit to Face Lion's on Thanksgiving

Team Page: Miami :: Detroit

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Joey Harrington never won three straight games in a single season with the Detroit Lions. He's already done it in just six starts for the Miami Dolphins.

Harrington, a former first-round pick of the Lions, returns to Detroit on Thanksgiving as the Dolphins try to move within one game of .500.

Oddsmakers have made Miami -3 point spread favorites (NFL Odds)

for Thursday's game, the over/under has been set at 39 total points (NFL Sports Books).

Harrington was traded to Miami (4-6) in May, just four years after the Lions (2-8) drafted him third overall. He became the scapegoat for Detroit's woes during his time there, as the team went 18-40 in games during which Harrington played.

The quarterback's return to Ford Field - where he was booed unmercifully - will provide intrigue in what seems to be a lackluster matchup.

``I know that stadium pretty well,'' said Harrington, who has led Miami to three straight wins and is 3-3 since taking over for Daunte Culpepper. ``I know what section the boos come from.''

After losing to Atlanta last Thanksgiving, the Lions fired Steve Mariucci, and cornerback Dre' Bly later blamed Harrington for it. Bly is doing his best not to escalate the drama.

``I ain't talking this week,'' Bly said.

Harrington threw 60 touchdowns and 62 interceptions with the Lions, finishing his career in Detroit with a 68.1 passer rating.

But Harrington has helped the Dolphins, who had the league's worst record less than a month ago, find some consistency. He went 26-for-42 for 254 yards with one score as Miami beat Minnesota 24-20 on Sunday.

``What makes me happiest is that the players on this team appreciate what I bring to the table,'' Harrington said.

The Dolphins dominating defense allows Harrington to be part of the supporting cast, with his goal to avoid the kind of mistakes that doomed Miami early in the season. That worked against the Vikings, who self-destructed with three turnovers in the fourth quarter, with Miami returning two for scores.

Miami is fifth in the NFL in total defense, allowing 285.4 yards per game.

Harrington's throwing on Sunday compensated for a running attack that was held to a franchise-low 4 yards. Running back Ronnie Brown netted 2 yards in 12 attempts, and the No. 2 overall pick in last year's draft is averaging 3.8 yards per carry after posting 4.4 as a rookie.

``I don't think you can put it on Ronnie,'' Miami coach Nick Saban said. ``He didn't have anywhere to run.''

Brown is nursing a groin injury, but emerged from Sunday's game ``no worse for wear,'' Saban said.

The Dolphins may be without two ailing defensive backs as starting cornerback Will Allen (groin) and reserve safety Travares Tillman (hand) were hurt Sunday.

Nose tackle Keith Traylor (knee) is making improvement after sitting out the game against Minnesota, Saban said.

Detroit couldn't even beat lowly Arizona, losing 17-10 on Sunday, but coach Rod Marinelli is trying to get his team to forget about the defeat quickly.

``I said, 'This is disappointing, tough pill, but we have to immediately lick the wounds and move on.' We have to wire in to do our job,'' he said.

The Lions seem to think the quick turnaround will be an advantage.

``You don't have any time to lick your wounds,'' said quarterback Jon Kitna, who signed in the offseason to replace Harrington. ``You have to get it back up and play a team that is playing really well right now, one of the hotter teams in the league.''

Lions Pro Bowl defensive tackle Shaun Rogers is eligible to return this week after serving a four-game suspension for taking a banned substance that was in a weight-loss supplement, but Marinelli is not sure if Rogers will play after he had knee surgery during the suspension.

``I think it will be tough, to be honest,'' Marinelli said. ``He hasn't been on his two legs running and hasn't been in pads or in his stance in five weeks. His workouts have been in the pool and riding a bike. Getting his feet in the ground, planting and breaking is completely different.''

Running back Kevin Jones (ankle), kick returner Eddie Drummond (concussion) and wide receiver DeVale Ellis (shoulder) were injured against the Cardinals, and Marinelli said he did not know whether the trio of banged-up players would be on the field against Miami.

Jones leads the team with 636 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. He has also been a threat as a receiver, catching 50 passes for 367 yards.

By: David Michaels - - Email Us

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