Lions 12, Bears 10

DETROIT _ Mathematicians will deny it, but any hopes for a late Bears playoff run behind the magic of aging quarterback Chris Chandler died when a football he threw settled in the arms of Detroit Lions safety Corey Harris.

The interception of Chris Chandler on a last-ditch drive for the winning points at the Lions' 37 sealed a 12-10 Bears defeat and all but ended their hopes of a playoff revival.

"We thought we had a good chance to go 4-5 and go in home against St. Louis (this Sunday) with a real good chance to get to .500, maybe," said mathematician-linebacker Brian Urlacher. "But our season's not over yet. We're 3-6.

"We've got seven to go and we're not throwing in the towel by any means. So we'll see what happens."

What happens is as easy to answer as the equation: "2 plus 2 equals X" after what happened at Detroit.

Teams tied for last in the NFC North with Detroit at 3-6 should not talk about the playoffs. Teams losing to the Lions two weeks after dominating them should not even think about playoffs.

Teams that have every injured offensive and defensive starter back and still score 10 points while managing only 199 net yards against a Lions defense crippled in the secondary and using players who they signed off the streets last week should probably think about job security instead of playoffs.

"They played a tremendous game, I thought, defensively," Bears coach Dick Jauron said of the Lions. "And we didn't; we just never seemed to get untracked offensively."

There have been offensive struggles at other times this year.

So Anthony Thomas' 21-carry, 61-yard rushing performance and Chandler's 149-yard passing effort on 16-of-28 throws was nothing abnormal.

Even their late-game defensive lapse was nothing unusual. Allowing a season-low 17 net rushing yards on 20 carries was long forgotten after the Bears gave up a seven-play, 35-yard Detroit drive to Jason Hanson's game-winning 48-yard field goal with 44 seconds to play. It was not unlike the late game-winning drive the Bears allowed in a loss to Seattle or the critical late drives allowed against Minnesota, New Orleans and Green Bay.

"Everybody's back healthy, but we didn't get it done," said defensive tackle Keith Traylor, who joined wide receiver Marty Booker and safety Mike Green back in the lineup after injuries.

What was particularly discouraging to the Bears, though, was their struggles in the kicking game. Dependable Paul Edinger even suffered in this one as he missed a 41-yard field goal with 12:09 left in the game. It would have given the Bears a 13-9 lead and forced Detroit quarterback Joey Harrington to drive his team for a TD at game's end instead of Hanson's fourth field goal.

And Edinger's first outright miss of the season came after he had a 48-yard field goal try fall short in the second quarter after being deflected by Jared DeVries.

"I didn't think they had penetration," Jauron said of the block "It looked like a low kick from the sideline."

The critical 41-yard kick was hooked wide left.

"I think Edinger is very tough mentally," Jauron said. "I don't think the block affected that missed kick. I just think he missed it."

Chandler's struggles were game-long, not for two plays. He had completed 11-of-18 for 88 yards by halftime but the Bears had only Edinger's 43-yard second-quarter field goal and faced a 6-3 deficit after 24- and 25-yard kicks by Hanson.

"I feel bad we didn't bale out the defense, either," Chandler said. "They played awesome. Offensively we weren't just able to get enough stuff going to help anybody out."

It helped somewhat when offensive coordinator John Shoop put the ball back in Thomas' hands after he'd carried only five times in the first half.

"We wanted Chris to come out with the quick game and attack them a little bit early, as well, to soften things up," Shoop said. "At halftime we came in and challenged our offensive line and Anthony and everybody to come out and commit to the run in the second half.

"Of the five runs in the first half, only one was an efficient play."

Thomas carried for 15 yards on a 50-yard touchdown drive that ended with Chandler's 12-yard TD pass to Desmond Clark with 7:52 left in the third quarter for a 10-6 Bears lead.

But Shoop cited a failed Thomas run early in the fourth quarter as critical. The Bears sent Thomas up the middle on third-and-one from the Detroit 23 and got nothing. They settled for Edinger's missed field goal try.

"I think the turning point was the third-and-one at the beginning of the fourth quarter where we failed to convert," Shoop said. "From there we certainly had some struggles in the game."

The Bears had only one more first down in the game.

Their defense had allowed a 49-yard drive to Hanson's 30-yard third-quarter field goal following Clark's TD, but forced a Lions punt with a stand early in the fourth quarter after Edinger's missed field goal.

That left the Bears' offense to try and kill the clock. They punted after three plays and the Lions drove to the winning field goal. Harrington, who completed 24-of-38 for 238 yards, completed five for 35 yards in the winning drive.

"We didn't feel like we had our true `A' game and felt that what we had wasn't enough," Bears defensive coordinator Greg Blache said of his group.

The offense had a much worse game, and Chandler's floating pass to Justin Gage that sailed high with 27 seconds left into Corey Harris' hands finished it.

"Any time you don't win a game and leave points out on the field, it's hard to swallow," Shoop said. "And I hope it's hard to swallow for everybody in this locker room."

It has to be hard for the whole team to accept or even think about anything except finishing out the season when the Lions have outplayed them in offense, defense and special teams.

Bear Report Top Stories