By LARRY LAGE/AP Sports Writer
DETROIT (AP) – Reggie Bush’s return more than made up for the loss of Nate Burleson.
Bush’s 37-yard touchdown run helped Detroit score 27 points in the second quarter and he accounted for 173 yards of offense to help the Lions beat the Chicago Bears 40-32 on Sunday.
Detroit (3-1) moved into a first-place tie with Chicago (3-1) in the NFC North. The Lions scored 24 straight points, including three TDs in a span of 3 minutes, 26 seconds, after Matt Forte’s 53-yard TD run gave the Bears 10-6 lead early in the second quarter.
Jay Cutler, who had four turnovers, threw a pair of touchdown passes and 2-point conversions in the final 4 minutes to pull Chicago within eight points to make the score look respectable.
Lions receiver Kris Durham recovered the onside kick to seal the win.
Detroit had a huge cushion to work with thanks to positive plays it got from each facet of the game.
Micheal Spurlock’s 57-yard punt return set up Matthew Stafford’s go-ahead TD with 6:09 left in the first half, when he recovered his own fumble on a 1-yard sneak. Stafford threw a 2-yard TD to Calvin Johnson on the Lions’ next possession, one play after safety Glover Quin returned Jay Cutler’s second interception for 42 yards.
Bush burst through a huge hole and hurdled safety Major Wright to give the Lions a 30-10 lead, their highest scoring first half in franchise history against Chicago, showing they didn’t miss Burleson very much. Burleson, the team’s No. 2 receiver, broke his left arm in a one-car accident last Tuesday.
After missing a game with a banged-up left knee, the speedy running back looked very healthy. Bush had a season-high 139 yards rushing and a score on 18 carries, taking advantage of running lanes against a line without defensive tackle Henry Melton. He also had four receptions for 34 yards.
Stafford completed 23 of 35 passes for 242 yards with a TD, an interception and a lost fumble.
His fumble put Chicago in a position to kick a field goal to make it 30-13 at halftime. The Bears kicked another field goal midway through the third quarter to pull within two TDs.
Cutler hurt the Bears opportunity to come back when his up-for-grabs pass was picked off by safety Louis Delmas, who had two interceptions for the first time in his five-year career.
Stafford, though, turned the ball over again to give Chicago a chance – briefly. His low pass intended for Johnson inside the Bears 10 was kicked up in the air and intercepted by Wright.
Three snaps later, Ndamukong Suh sacked Cutler for a second time and forced a fumble that fellow defensive tackle Nick Fairley recovered and returned 4 yards for a score that put Detroit up 37-16 late in the third.
Cutler entered the game with a 7-1 record with the Bears against the Lions in large part because he had thrown only one interception.
He tripled that total in one afternoon, fumbled for a fourth turnover and was sacked three times after being sacked that many times combined in three games this season.
Cutler was 27 of 47 for 317 yards with a 14-yard TD pass to Alshon Jeffery with 4 minutes left and a 2-yard conversion pass to the same receiver that pulled Chicago within 16 points.
He threw a 10-yard TD pass to Earl Bennett with 43 seconds left and connected with Brandon Marshall for a 2-point conversion that made it 40-32, making a game that was lopsided for much of the game appear to be close.
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