Curious coaching moves

While Steve Mariucci is just starting his regime in Detroit and Dick Jauron is wrapping up his tenure in Chicago both coaches made moves that raised more than eyebrow.

The Lions' Steve Mariucci fell in line for criticism by trying a squib kickoff after Jason Hanson's go-ahead 48-yard field goal with 44 seconds to play.

Mariucci feared Jerry Azumah might return the kickoff for a game-winning touchdown. Azumah had returned a kick 89 yards in Chicago two weeks ago for a TD, and had a 32-yard average for four kick returns Sunday.

But the squib kick was fielded cleanly and returned 12 yards by Bears reserve defensive lineman Joe Tafoya, to set up the Bears' offense with one last chance at their 42 and 34 seconds remaining. Then Chandler threw a game-sealing interception.

"Number one, Jerry Azumah is a good returner," Mariucci said. "And we were missing five guys on our kickoff cover team."

Rod Babers, Casey Fitzsimmons, Barrett Green, Bracy Walker and James Davis all were injured during the game for the Lions and missing from the return team.

Bears coach Dick Jauron didn't regret a decision to let the Lions run out the clock at the end of the first half from their own 14-yard line facing a third-and-one. However, he may have let a chance for a field goal get away by not using his two remaining timeouts.

"The way the first half went, did we think about it? Yes," Jauron said. "We did we talk about it, yes. I decided not to. There's no real explanation except that I decided not to use the timeouts. You can talk about how the first half went, the score of the game, low scoring game."

If Jauron had used both timeouts, the Bears at worst could have forced a punt from near the goal line and tried to block it. They also could have called fair catch and had either a field goal or fair catch-free kick opportunity for three points.

"We didn't keep them backed up," Jauron said.

The Lions faced a third-and-one after gaining 9 yards with two running plays, so Jauron assumed the first down wouldn't be that difficult for Detroit to get on third down and let time expire.

The loss extended the Bears' losing streak on the road to 12. They would be one short of their team record if they lost their final three road games at Denver, Green Bay and Kansas City. The Lions' win marked their first winning streak since they won three straight with Gary Moeller at coach in 2000.

The Bears did something few teams do Sunday when they had six wide receivers active: Booker, David Terrell, Dez White, Ahmad Merritt and both rookies Justin Gage and Bobby Wade.

With the return of Keith Traylor from a knee injury, rookie defensive tackle Ian Scott was inactive. Also inactive were safety Cameron Worrell, cornerback Todd McMillon, running back Adrian Peterson, guard Corbin Lacina, defensive tackle Tron LaFavor and tackle Scott Sanderson.

Chandler played poorly, but Jauron said he will not be switching back to Kordell Stewart next week at Soldier Field against the St. Louis Rams.

Bear Report Top Stories