Debacle in Detroit
Anthony Thomas

Posted Oct 20, 2002


The Bears had two weeks to prepare for arguably the worst team in football and couldn’t get it done against the Lions. A 23-20 overtime loss drops the Bears record to 2-4.

Coming into the game the Lions ranked 32nd rushing the ball, but totaled 191 yards on the ground against the Bears defense. James Stewart had a career day running the ball 32 times for 172 and two touchdowns.

The Bears defensive line was dominated by the Lions offensive line. When Detroit did throw the ball Joey Harrington had plenty of time to throw and was sacked just once.

Lions head coach Marty Mornhinweg did his best to cost the Lions their second victory of the year. Trailing 20-17 with less than two minutes to go the Lions drove inside the Bears five-yard line. Mornhinweg continued to go for a score with seconds left on the clock instead of kicking a game-tying field goal. With five seconds left on the clock Larry Whigham came free on a blitz sacking Harrington, but a false start penalty before the snap of the ball gave Detroit a chance to send in Jason Hanson for a 24-yard field goal.

The Lions won the toss and elected to receiver. Paul Edinger, who had hit two field goals including a 52-yarder, picked the worst time for a poor kickoff. The placekicker placed the ball near the sideline and it rolled out of bounds giving Detroit the ball at their forty-yard line.

The Lions took advantage of the excellent field position. Behind seven consecutive runs Detroit moved into field goal range for Hanson, who hit from 24 and 30 yards and missed a 55-yard attempt earlier in the game. However, Hanson nailed a 48-yard game winning field goal sending the Bears to their fourth straight loss.

The Bears failed to take advantage of great field position early starting their first two drives at their 45 and 42-yard lines respectively. After a scoreless first quarter the Bears jumped ahead on a 53-yard field goal by Edinger.

The Bears defense played relatively well in the first half, but gave up two touchdowns, which can be attributed to the offense turning the ball over twice deep in their own territory.

The Lions got the board in the second quarter when Anthony Thomas fumbled inside the Bears ten-yard line. Kelvin Pritchett recovered the ball. Stewart gave Detroit the lead on the following play on a six-yard touchdown run, which was his first of the year.

The Bears turned the ball over again on the following drive. A play after Chris Chandler was sacked the quarterback went to Dez White, but was hit just has he threw causing the ball to float. Eric Davis picked the ball off and returned it 14 yards to the Bears 16-yard line.

The defense forced the Lions into a fourth and goal from the one-yard line, but Lions coach Marty Mornhinweg decided to gamble and it paid off with Stewart’s second TD run of the game. The one-yard score extended the Lions lead to 14-3 with just over a minute left in the half.

Needing something positive going into the lockerroom Chandler answered the call. The veteran starting for an NFL record seventh different team completed six straight passes on the way to getting into the endzone. A 22-yard completion to Fred Baxter put Chicago near midfield with 42 seconds left. Chandler then went to Dez White for 24 more yards. Marty Booker capped the drive with a 14-yard catch for his fourth touchdown of the season. The score came with just five seconds left in the half and put the Bears within 14-10.

The Bears momentum seemed to carry over to the start of the third quarter. A roughing the passer penalty on Luther Elliss sprung the drive forward 15 yards. Then Baxter caught a 13-yard pass on 3rd and nine to move the ball into Detroit territory. Chandler found White open deep for a 38-yard catch that gave Chicago first and goal from the three. Two plays later Thomas punched the ball in one-yard line giving the Bears a 17-14 lead early in the third quarter.

Detroit came right back with a 23-yard run by Stewart moving the ball near midfield. On the next play Bryan Robinson forced rookie QB Joey Harrington to fumble which Alfonso Boone fell on at the Lions 25-yard line.

Although, the Bears offense couldn’t move the ball forward the unit did put points on the board for the third straight possession with a 42-yard field goal by Edinger extending their lead to 20-14 midway through the third period.

The Lions methodically marched down the field on a 13-play drive that took nearly eight minutes off the clock behind the strength of their running game. Stewart broke into the open field for a 24-yard run, which was the first of nine consecutive rushes by the Lions. The Bears looked like they forced Hanson on to attempt another long field goal, but a roughing the passer penalty on Phillip Daniels bred new life into the drive. In the end the Bears defense bent, but didn’t break, as Detroit had to settle for a 30-yard Hanson field goal that the Bears lead to 20-17 late in the third quarter.

Vinny Sutherland came out to return the ensuing kickoff. After an offside penalty on the Lions the Bears made them kickoff again. However, Sutherland was pulled in favor of Ahmad Merritt, who broke the Bears longest return of the year. His 63-yard effort gave the Bears the ball at Lions 32-yard line.

Thomas had one of his better runs of the day as he busted forward into the Lions secondary, but SS Corey Harris forced the "A-Train" to fumble for the third time on the day. The Lions recovered for the Bears third turnover of the game.

The teams traded punts back and forth into the fourth quarter. The Bears tried to run the clock out as they took possession of the ball with just over seven minutes left in the game. The offense picked up two first downs and ran off nearly five minutes, but couldn’t convert on a third and five situation. Chandler scrambled out of the pocket and was sacked for the third time in the game.

The Lions took the ball with 2:21 left and no timeouts. Detroit had a third replay of the game go in their favor. Earlier in the game a Dez White reception was overturned as a Lions fumble. Then a 15-yard catch by Scotty Anderson was initially ruled incomplete, but upon further review became a 15-yard reception giving the Lions the ball near midfield. Completions of 19 and 16 yards followed moving Detroit well within field goal range. Detroit went for the win in regulation, but had to settle for another Hanson field goal.

As in regulation the Bears couldn’t stop Stewart in the extra session. The running back rushed for 26 more yards in overtime, which put Detroit in position to win their second game of the year. Hanson hit his third field goal on the day to win the game dropping the Bears to 2-4 and facing another road game next week at Minnesota.


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