By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola knows his answer to this question. Now in his 13th season with the Lions, the venerable center does not hesitate even a moment when he identifies which game of the Detroit-Chicago rivalry series jumps to the front of his mind when he thinks about the rivalry.
“The game Calvin caught that ball In the end zone, and then we lost,” Raiola said, referencing the first game of 2010, when the Lions opened the season on the road against the Bears and suffered a 19-14 defeat. “The beginning of the rule of Calvin.”
Not surprisingly, Johnson, who did not “complete the process” of the catch in the end zone that day, is not a fan of the Bears either, and he is not ashamed to admit it.
“It’s easy to have a dislike for those guys,” Johnson said with a laugh. “It’s not hard at all.”
“You can’t stand them, one, because they’re filling up the stadium a lot with a lot of Bears fans, so that’s one reason you can’t stand them,” Johnson added. “We’re going to have a good showing this week. We’ve had two good practices this week so far. Guys are focused in. We don’t like those guys, so it’s going to be a good little showdown.”
While the game that inspired the “Calvin Johnson rule” might top Raiola’s list of memorable LIons-Bears games, there are many from which to choose. After all, Raiola has spent his whole career in Detroit and has seen 24 games between the Lions and Bears since he entered the NFL in 2001. The Lions own a paltry 6-16 record against the Bears in that span.
Detroit might not come out on top often, but it usually shows itself to be competitive when it faces Chicago.
Eight of those games – a third of the series since 2001 – have come right down to the wire, won or lost by four points or fewer. 14 of them were decided by a touchdown or less. Missed-it-by-that-much losses always rankle the worst, and that repeated pain of defeat helps explain the disdain the Lions have for the Bears.
“There’s no love lost between the two teams,” Raiola said. “It’s a situation where we’re going to get their best and they’re going to get ours. It’s going to be people fighting tooth and nail.”
The Lions have not swept the season series between the two teams since 2007, when they went 7-9. Detroit has scraped out just one win over Chicago throughout the last five seasons. The Lions prepare for every game with as much diligence and intensity as possible, but no one denies that the week leading up to playing the Bears is different.
“Hatred’s a strong word,” Raiola said. “It’s just everything’s turned up. It’s a North game, it’s a division game. Everybody’s just fighting for position. It’s going to be a battle.”