Take the win
Jim Miller

Posted Nov 24, 2002


In a game reminiscent to a typical Bears victory from 2001 the team came from behind to beat the Lions 20-17 in overtime.

Trailing 17-7 with just over six minutes to go the Bears took the ball with Jim Miller at the helm. The quarterback completed 8-11 passing attempts and capped a 13-play 92-yard drive with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Dez White.

The defense was able to hold the Lions thanks in part to two holding penalties on Detroit.

Miller and the offense got the ball with just under two minutes to go already in Lions territory. The team looked to have a game-winning drive within their grasp, but a miscommunication on snap from center Olin Kreutz to Miller resulted in a nine-yard loss. Miller misfired on his next throws, which left the Bears with 4th and 20. Dropping back to pass Miller fell over a lineman’s foot, but was to get back to his feet and role right. Miller threw the ball toward the sideline and found White for a 33-yard gain.

"It was one of those times when you know that you really have to step up and play," Miller said. "My arm wasn’t in great shape but at that point, you have to keep going. I hadn’t really thrown much of anything in practice for over two weeks. All I could do was to hope for the best and give it my best shot."

Despite not being able to punch the ball in for a touchdown Paul Edinger’s 20-yard field goal tied the game and sent Chicago to their third overtime game of the year.

The third time was the charm as the Bears, who lost their two previous overtime appearances, as the team wasn’t going to be denied again.

The Lions won the toss, but elected to defer in order to have a strong wind at their back. The decision gave the Bears the ball with a chance to win the game.

A 37-yard kick return by Ahmad Merritt gave the Bears the ball at their 35-yard line. Leon Johnson, who played the majority of the fourth quarter and the entire overtime in place of Anthony Thomas, gained 15 yards after being hit in the backfield putting the ball at midfield. Miller fell again as he dropped back to pass and lost six yards setting up 3rd and 11. He found Marty Booker for 14 yards a first down at the Lions 37.

Three plays later a Miller incomplete and were ready to send Brad Maynard in to punt, but the Lions head coach Marty Mornhinweg accepted a 10-yard holding penalty that gave the Bears another chance. Miller found Booker for 15-yards on 3rd and 18. The Bears gambled because of the wind and decided not to try a 48-yard field goal and went for it on 4th and three. Miller completed a five-yard pass to White for a first down. After three consecutive runs by Johnson head coach Dick Jauron sent Edinger on for a forty-yard field goal attempt. The placekicker, who had missed from 35 yards earlier in the game, got just enough to clear the cross bar for a 20-17 win.

When asked about his overtime questionable decisions Mornhinweg stood his ground.

"I would do that again," Mornhinweg said of his decision to defer the overtime kickoff and accepted a penalty when the Bears were ready to punt. "Knowing the outcome, I wouldn’t do it again. But in a similar situation I would."

That a big reason the Lions have lost 14 straight games on the road.

The Bears failed to get points out of their first drive, which moved inside the red zone after starting their own 1. Chris Chandler completed passes of 27 and 40 yards to Marty Booker that lead to a 35-yard field goal attempt by Paul Edinger that went wide right and snapped his consecutive conversions at 13.

The Bears haven’t scored on their opening possession all season.

The offense got the ball back when Cory Schlesinger fumbled on a Keith Traylor hit that Mike Caldwell recovered in Lions territory. However, the unit failed to capitalize on another opportunity when Booker dropped a potential touchdown pass. The Bears stayed aggressive going for it on 4th and one from the Lions 34, but didn’t convert.

After almost picking ball off on previous play McQuarters makes his first interception of the year off a deflection of a Joey Harrington pass by Bryan Robinson. The cornerback returned the ball 33 yards to the Lions 13-yard line.

Marcus Robinson’s second touchdown catch in three games gives the Bears a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter.

The Lions went to the air to get on the board. On a 13-play drive Detroit threw the ball eleven times and was helped by a 23-yard pass interference penalty on Mike Green. The Lions got as close as the Bears four-yard line before settling for a 22-yard field goal by Jason Hanson.

Trailing 7-3 in the third quarter Mornhinweg gambled and went for a touchdown on 4th goal from the one-yard line. The risk paid off with a Harrington touchdown pass to Germane Crowell that Detroit in the lead for the first time at 10-7. The 15-play drive took over eight minutes and was just the second Lions scoring drive that took over five minutes all season.

A Dustin Lyman holding penalty on the ensuing kickoff pined the Bears deep inside their own 20. On the first play from scrimmage Chris Chandler took a hit and went down with a sprained ankle. Chandler had to leave the game and Jim Miller was forced into action. His first pass attempt skipped to the intended receiver and the Bears were forced to punt.

Kicking into a stiff wind Maynard got off a 41-yard punt, but Eddie Drummond returned the ball 16 yards setting the Lions up at the Bears 35-yard line.

The life of the Bears seemed to go out of the team as Chandler limped off the field and then James Stewart broke three tackles to get into the endzone on a 23-yard run. The score extended the Lions lead to 17-7 late in the third quarter.

However, the fourth quarter belonged to the home team as the Bears scored ten points in the final 2:33 of regulation and were able to force an extra session.

Some questionable decisions by the Lions led to Edinger’s forty-yard field goal that broke the Bears eight-game losing steak and improved the team’s overall record to 3-8.

"Nobody wants to see their name in the record books next to a statistic like that," Jauron said. "This team has tried hard all year. They’ve been so close and things just didn’t go our way. Today it felt as if the tide was beginning to turn. We made some mistakes but we were able to come back. That hasn’t happened for us in quite a while."

It’s the Bears first win since Sept. 15 when Jay Feely missed a 46-yard field goal wide left, which gave the Bears a 14-13 win over the Falcons.


Related Stories
Miller ignites offense
 -by BearReport.com  Nov 24, 2002
Lions vs Bears: Action Photos
 -by RoarDigest.com  Nov 24, 2002
Notebook
 -by BearReport.com  Nov 24, 2002

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