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.