TIME: 08:30 P.M. EST
VENUE: Ford Field
In the latter stages of yet another losing season, the Detroit Lions suffered a close defeat at home to the Chicago Bears.
The Lions haven’t lost since that game – despite trailing by 20 or more points in each of the past two weeks – and will try to add to their spectacular turnaround as the Bears visit Ford Field again Monday night.
Detroit was 2-9 and had dropped 46 of its previous 51 games when it welcomed Chicago on Dec. 5. The Lions led by three entering the fourth quarter of that game, but the Bears rallied to win on a touchdown pass by Jay Cutler.
Detroit bounced back from that 24-20 defeat by topping eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay to start its current eight-game win streak, the NFL’s longest active run. The Lions (4-0) are also enjoying their best start since 1956 thanks in large part to a pair of incredible comebacks.
Detroit was behind 20-0 at halftime in Minnesota on Sept. 25 before pulling out a 26-23 overtime win and trailed 27-3 in Dallas early in the third quarter of last week’s 34-30 victory.
Bobby Carpenter and Chris Houston returned interceptions for touchdowns to help their team match the largest comeback on the road in league history. Calvin Johnson tied another NFL mark by catching two TD passes for the fourth straight game, and Jason Hanson added a 51-yard field goal as the Lions became the first team to rally from 20-plus point deficits in two consecutive victories.
“We played good in the second half to come back and steal it. We have to play better in the first half; we know that. We have to come out and improve next week,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said.
The Lions get a chance to showcase that improvement during their first Monday night game in a decade and will try to improve to 5-0 for the first time since winning their first six games in 1956, the year before the franchise’s most recent NFL championship. They’re also seeking their first nine-game win streak since Nov. 7, 1953-Oct. 16, 1954.
They are facing a Bears team that snapped a two-game skid while not playing its best during a 34-29 home win over Carolina.
Chicago (2-2) gave up 543 yards to the Panthers – the most since yielding a franchise-worst 583 in a win over the Los Angeles Rams in 1982 – and might not have prevailed without D.J. Moore’s interception return for a touchdown and Devin Hester’s NFL-record 11th punt return for a score.
“We definitely have to play defense way better if we expect to win in Detroit because they’re playing unbelievable right now,” cornerback Charles Tillman told the team’s website. “They’re on fire. They’re 4-0, and in order for us to win against a team like that, we definitely have to bring our ‘A’ game in all three phases.”
Matt Forte, though, joined Walter Payton and Gale Sayers as the franchise’s only players to top 200 rushing yards in a game, finishing with 205 and a touchdown on 25 carries. The Bears’ 224 yards on the ground – their most in a game since 1988 – may have signaled their problems with relying too much on the pass are behind them.
Chicago rushed the ball 31 times, and Cutler attempted only 17 passes in the victory. The Bears threw the ball 82 times and ran the ball 24 times in their back-to-back defeats.
“We knew as an offense that we can run the ball and we just had to establish that first and then continue to do it the rest of the game,” Forte said.
Chicago has averaged 31.8 passing plays and 28.7 running plays during its six-game win streak over Detroit, and has topped 100 yards on the ground in each of the last five matchups.
Forte, though, was held to less than 65 rushing yards in both games last year but had a career-best 151 receiving yards and two touchdowns in a 19-14 season-opening win over the Lions on Sept. 12, 2010. Cutler also threw for 372 yards, his most since joining the Bears before the 2009 season.
That game, however, was remembered more for a controversial incompletion. Johnson appeared to score the winning touchdown for Detroit with 24 seconds left, but officials ruled he didn’t maintain possession of the ball after landing in the end zone.
The Lions also lost Stafford to an injured right shoulder in the first half of that loss, and the former No. 1 draft pick played only two other games in 2010. He missed the rematch at Ford Field in December.
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