Bears blow chances in 24-13 loss to Lions

The Chicago Bears downplayed what the atmosphere would be like

playing in Detroit’s first Monday night game in a decade, saying

they have played in plenty of marquee matchups.

Clearly, the Bears weren’t ready for what they heard.

Matthew Stafford’s second touchdown pass put Detroit ahead in

the third quarter and Jahvid Best’s 88-yard run later in the period

gave the Lions a double-digit lead in a 24-13 win over the rattled

Bears.

The Lions had their largest crowd at Ford Field and the 67,861

fans created enough noise to rattle the Bears into nine false

starts, making Matt Forte’s 116 yards rushing moot.

”To get that performance from Matt and not win seems

wasteful,” Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler said. ”But that’s where

penalties hurt. No one can win when you’re always first-and-15 and

-20.”

Lions fans counted down the final seconds – as if it was New

Year’s Eve – when the franchise finished its first game in the

league’s weekly showcase since 2001.

”I’ve never heard it like that,” said Bears receiver Roy

Williams, a former Lion. ”We were 6-2 (in 2007), but it was

nothing like this.”

They have had a lot of time to get geared up to root for an NFL

team like this in the Motor City.

Detroit (5-0) is undefeated through five games for the first

time since 1956 – the year before its last NFL title.

The defending NFC North champion Bears (2-3) are off to their

worst start since 2007. They are three games behind Detroit and

defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay (5-0) in the division.

Chicago was unnerved at times by the raucous crowd, committing

six false start penalties in the first half alone that set an NFL

season-high for a game, according to STATS, LLC.

”We were going against a loud crowd, but that isn’t an

excuse,” Chicago coach Lovie Smith said. ”Pre-snap penalties kill

you.”

Chicago quieted the fans briefly by taking a 10-7 lead just

before halftime and seemed to make them a little nervous by pulling

within eight points with 4:07 left to play.

Best, though, made them roar again with a 43-yard run that was

capped by a horse-collar penalty that gave Detroit the ball at the

Chicago 22. He ran for another first down that took time off the

clock and set up Jason Hanson’s 31-yard kick with 1:56 to go to

seal the victory.

The Lions got some large gains on offense and a lot of solid and

subtle ones on defense, holding Chicago to just three points in the

second half.

”Can’t give up the big plays,” Smith said. ”Their defense

made us earn everything. We didn’t do the same.”

Stafford lofted a pass to Calvin Johnson for a 73-yard score –

extending his NFL-record start with nine TD catches in five games –

early in the second quarter.

Best’s 88-yard run was the second-longest in franchise history,

trailing only Bob Hoernschemeyer’s 96-yard run against the New York

Yankees on Nov. 23, 1950. It was 3 yards longer than Barry Sanders’

longest gain on the ground.

Smith was dumbfounded that Best wasn’t touched on the run

through a hole up the middle and past the secondary.

”Hard to swallow,” Smith said. ”Jahvid Best is a good player,

but we can’t let that happen.”

Stafford was 19 of 26 for 219 yards with two TDs, including the

go-ahead score to Brandon Pettigrew from 18 yards with 9:55 to go

in the third quarter. Best more than doubled his previous

career-high with 163 yards rushing on 12 carries. Johnson finished

with five catches for 130 yards and for the first time this season,

he didn’t score twice, but he made an impact as usual against a

team that tried to slow him down with double coverage.

Cutler was 28 of 38 for 249 yards with a TD and no

interceptions.

”They were getting 3, 4 yards of surge every time and that

makes it hard to stay in the pocket,” Cutler said.

He was sacked three times and was hurried and hit many more

times.

”Jay was under a lot of pressure,” Smith said. ”But he kept

us in it.”

Cutler’s 9-yard pass to Kellen Davis gave the Bears a

three-point lead late in the first half, but it wasn’t large enough

to hold off the NFL’s first team to come back from 20-point

deficits in consecutive weeks.

NOTES: Chicago DE Julius Peppers left briefly with a knee injury

in the first half, but quickly returned to the game. … Lions

returner Stefan Logan was shook up in the first half and left the

game, but returned before halftime. … Detroit rookie DT Nick

Fairley made his debut two months after foot surgery.