For unsettling stretches it looked like more of the same. The Lions were moving up and down the field deftly mixing passes and penalties taking circuitous routes that stalled. Everyone was waiting for something different and then in a flash something was.

Reggie Bush doesn’t run in circles. He sprints straight ahead and unleashed a 77-yard dash that essentially clinched the Lions’ 34-24 season-opening victory against the Vikings Sunday. This is what they envisioned when they wooed the veteran running back a timely snapshot of what’s possible.

On a day when the Lions occasionally dominated but struggled to get out of their own way Bush turned short passes into long passes. He turned small plays into large plays and gave Matthew Stafford an outlet he desperately needed. But the biggest impact Bush made in his Lions debut was a simple one — he wiped out mistakes.

As the season unfolds the Lions will want to commit fewer than 11 penalties and squander fewer scoring opportunities but at least they know Bush can make a difference while they try not to be the same.

“The guy’s a super-talented player like we all know” Stafford said. “By no means did we play perfect. The key is to win a few of them along the way while you’re trying to get really rolling.”

If the Lions can win a few of these it’ll be fun to see what happens when they play sounder and smarter. After closing last season with eight straight losses I’d argue this was the biggest opener in recent franchise history. It was a huge triumph for Jim Schwartz and his staff to defeat a division rival the Lions seldom beat.

The Ford Field crowd of 62461 reserved its loudest cheers for two traditional favorites — Stafford and Calvin Johnson — and one celebrated newcomer. The chants for “Reg-gie!” began immediately after he scooted 12 yards on his first carry. The chants turned slightly darker when the opening drive ended with a botched field-goal attempt and then Adrian Peterson ran 78 yards on Minnesota’s first play for a 7-0 lead.

The Lions shut down Peterson after that and always seemed on the verge of control. It was if they had to score every touchdown twice. One Johnson touchdown catch was overturned on replay by the same goofy rule that burned him three years ago. Two Bush touchdowns were overturned on replay when his knee hit the turf a shade before the ball crossed the goal line.