It was hard to tell which team was winless in the first half of the contest. Detroit, who was 0-10 coming into Chicago, dominated the first 30 minutes but only led 7-3. The Bears poor tackling allowed Detroit to move the ball throughout the first half. The Lions tallied 201 total yards to the Bears 114. Charlie Batch utilized his backs and tight ends completing 15-21 for 170 yards. But, Hanson missed two field attempts of 45 and 48 yards. A 9 M.P.H wind and a new snapper seemed to disrupt the normal steady Hanson, who came into the game hitting 13 of 16 attempts.
"It appeared that a couple of snaps were off target," said Lions head coach Marty Mornhinweg. "There's no excuse in this league. Snap, hold, kick. It doesn't matter if you are new or not, you've got to make your kicks."
Late in first quarter James Stewart put the Lions up 7-0 on a three yard TD run, which was his first rushing score of the year. The touchdown capped a ten-play drive, which started at the Lions five-yard line. It was also the first touchdown the Bears have allowed in the first half in 29 possessions going back to the Packers game.
Chicago's offense struggled against the Lions 29th ranked defense. Jim Miller had to get rid of the ball quickly thanks to the pass rush of Detroit's defensive line, especially that of Robert Porcher and Shaun Rogers. Miller had a decent half going 10-18 for 93 yards and an interception, but the offense never got in a rhythm.
For instance, on a 4th and less than one the Bears were stopped in the backfield for a three-yard loss. Miller looked to go one way and Leon Johnson went another, which resulted in the negative play. Miller didn't get a lot of help from his receivers Marty Booker, David Terrell and Dez White all dropped passes in the first half.
"I think we came out a little flat," Miller said. "I don't think anyone wants to make excuses. This a tough little road ahead when you play divisional games every week."
The Bears only score of the half was due in part to two defensive penalties by the Lions. Miller hooked up with White for a 19-yard catch to end the first quarter. On the opening play of the second quarter Porcher sacked Miller, but the Lions were flagged for being offsides. Then on third and 10 from the Lions 33 D'Wayne Bates dropped a pass from Miller. However, Detroit was caught offsides again. The Bears didn't convert the first down on 3rd and 5, but the additional five yards from the penalty put Chicago within Paul Edinger's field goal range. He hit a low line drive kick, which was good from 46 yards out cutting the lead to 7-3 early in the second quarter.
The score remained the same late in the second quarter. The Lions took over at their 35 after a Miller pass was intercepted by Bryant Westbrook. With 1:14 left in the half Batch moved the Lions downfield giving Hanson a chance to put the Lions up 10-3 going into the locker room. However, he missed wide right and the Bears trailed by only four points at the half.
The Bears failed to move the ball on the opening possession of the third quarter, but it was for a lack of execution. On 3rd and 5 from their 48,Terrell dropped a sure touchdown pass from Miller. He broke away from coverage and was alone as the ball hit his hands and fell to the ground. Brad Maynard gave some momentum back to the Bears as he pinned the Lions at their nine-yard line with a 41-yard punt.
For the second time in the game the Bears defense allowed a prolonged drive, which ended in the Lions putting points on the board. Back to back pass interference penalties on R.W. McQuarters and Walt Harris moved the Lions out to their 37. Then on a 3rd and five Batch went to backup running back Lamont Warren, who gained 29 yards on the reception placing the ball at Chicago's 29. The Lions continued to edge closer to a score, but Batch misfired on second and third down. Hanson was able to right himself for the moment and hit a 36-yard field goal, which gave the Lions a 10-3 lead with 6:14 left in the third quarter.
As the quarter wound down the game turned into a battle for field position. The teams traded three and outs, but Maynard's 45 yard punt combined with a holding penalty on Detroit put them at their 14. Mike Brown sacked Batch on a blindside blitz at the 3 yard line. The hit eventually forced the quarterback from the game. John Jett, who is the Lions regular punter, was inactive because of a calf injury, forcing Detroit to sign Leo Araguz; who hit a 37-yard punt giving the Bears their best field position of the day inside enemy territory at the 40-yard line.
The drive carried over into the fourth quarter. Despite excellent field position Chicago was only able to manage another Edinger field goal this time from 26 yards. With 14:04 left the Bears trailed 10-6.
With backup quarterback Mike McMahon in for Batch the Bears defense took advantage of the rookie, sacking him two of his first three snaps. Brian Urlacher chased McMahon out of bounds for a one-yard loss, which counts as a sack. Then Rosevelt Colvin dragged him down forcing Araguz to punt.
Chicago took over at their 45 and began a 14 play drive that consumed 6:44 off the clock. Due in part to a running game that produced 108 yards on 34 attempts. Despite being without Anthony Thomas, who missed his second straight game with a hamstring injury.
On the possession the Bears ran the ball ten times including James Allen's six carries for 29 yards. Leon Johnson scored from one yard out to put Chicago in front 13-10 with 5:34 left in the game. However, the drive nearly resulted in another punt. The Bears were stopped on 3rd down and 6 on the Lions 41. The punt team came on, but Detroit was called for a neutral zone infraction moving Chicago forward five yards. Jauron decided not to punt and Johnson got the carry on 4th and one. He gained six yards for the first down.
Chicago looked to have the game in hand after Brown got his second sack of the game. The hit forced McMahon to fumble and Brown also recovered the ball at the Lions 29 with 3:45 left.
Miller and company couldn't get a first that would have allowed the offense to all but run the clock out. So, on fourth and one Dick Jauron sent in Edinger for his third field goal attempt. As the ball was snapped and kicked through the uprights a whistle blew the play dead. Jauron had decided to challenge the previous spot of a Daimon Shelton reception. The play stood and Edinger was forced to kick again, but this time the kick went wide left. Leaving the Lions just a field goal down with 2:18 to play.
"I had a lot of people challenge the call it was on the opposite side of the field and at the time I thought there was no sense in taking two challenges inside the two minute (mark)," Jauron said. "The problem was there is a delay from when you press those buttons (to challenge the play) to when he stops the play and that's the way the apparatus runs. Obviously once the ball was snapped I wished I hadn't challenged the play, but up until that point I thought what do we have to lose here. It ended up we lost three points on it. So, it was my fault from there I really put Paul in a bad situation."
McMahon led the Lions within field goal range. With 21 seconds left Hanson had one more opportunity to redeem his earlier misses, but he couldn't connect from 40 yards. The kicker hit only one of four tries. The three misses matches his career high, which was done once and all three of those were from 50 yards or beyond.
The victory assures the Bears of being in first place when they travel to Green Bay to face the second place Packers.
"It definitely wasn't our best game on offense, defense or special teams," Dick Jauron said. "I think in that way we certainly can learn a lot from (the game) when we watch the tape, but that being said, in the National Football League and maybe in all football, you've got to win when you're not playing your best."