Bears KO Lions

CHICAGO - The Detroit Lions didn't know what hit them. A second-quarter flurry of big plays propelled the Bears Sunday to a 38-6 victory, allowing them to gain a tie for first place with the Lions (1-1) while making a bold statement about not intending to fade quickly into the NFC North background like they've done numerous times in the recent past.

"We haven't seen that many points on the board in a long time,'' Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "Well, since I've been here.''

They hadn't scored 38 points since Dave Wannstedt's first season as coach in 1993 and hadn't beaten anyone by 32 points since the Spare Bears beat Philadelphia 35-3 during the strike-marred 1987 season. It was their biggest margin of victory in a non-strike season since 1986.

"It's a great feeling when you win, and it's tough to win at this level of competition, and usually you don't win like this -- this big,'' said Bears quarterback Kyle Orton, who completed 14-of-21 for 150 yards.

The Bears led 10-6 in the second quarter, then hit the Lions with a knockout combination of big plays.

Bobby Wade trotted down the sidelines with a punt 73 yards behind a convoy of blockers to a touchdown with 11:34 left in the second quarter. Muhsin Muhammad then took a big hit but held Orton's 28-yard TD toss with 1:14 left in the first half for a 24-6 lead, and on the first play from scrimmage after Orton's TD pass, Mike Brown plucked a Joey Harrington pass and sprinted 41 yards to a touchdown and 31-6 halftime lead.

The turnaround from the Week 1 9-7 loss at Washington was so stunning, it had Smith fielding questions about whether switching to white home jerseys for the first time in anyone's memory had something to do with it.

"I'm not superstitious at all,'' he said. "Believe me, the jerseys had nothing to do with it. Good special teams, good offensive and good defensive football is really what happened today.''

The good offense included 187 yards rushing on 37 carries, which was 146 yards more than they gained in Week 1. Thomas Jones gained 139 yards on 20 carries and Cedric Benson got 16 carries for 49 more. Jones' 3-yard TD sprint to the pylon for the game's first score capped a 43-yard drive which started after defensive tackle Ian Scott had picked off a Harrington pass.

"We just tried to run the ball and execute and not hurt ourselves and that's what we did today -- we didn't hurt ourselves,'' said Jones, who also closed out the scoring with a 16-yard fourth-quarter dash. "Last week, we were in the game and we should have won the game, but we hurt ourselves with penalties and turnovers.''

They limited their penalties to six for 40 yards, and left it to Detroit to commit all the turnovers. Harrington threw four more interceptions after Scott's, including Brown's, two to Nathan Vasher and one to Lance Briggs.

Defensive pressure up front led to two Brian Urlacher sacks but also forced Harrington to rush some of his throws which resulted in picks.

"The guys kind of got caught up in the energy and the moment,'' defensive coordinator Ron Rivera said. "I think the crowd was tremendous and the players really felt that energy. It just spilt out all over the field with the way they were playing.''

The Bears' defense left little running room early for Kevin Jones, and held Detroit to 29 yards on 18 carries only a week after giving up 164 yards rushing to Washington. The lack of a running game forced Harrington to throw.

"We didn't play as well as we need to and we knew that we could play a lot better than we did last week,'' Smith said about the defense. "It was no more than that. They have a lot of pride. We have character over there.

"Whenever you don't play well, you can't wait to get back and do something about it. We quit talking and we went back out to the practice field and we did something about it today.''

The Bears' 7-0 lead had shrunk to 10-6 in the second quarter after Harrington hit Roy Williams with a 51-yard TD and Alfonso Boone blocked the conversion. Bear Doug Brien added a 48-yard field goal.

Then Wade made his 73-yard punt return, deftly dodging two tacklers early, then following blockers Charles Tillman, Todd Johnson and Mike Green to up the left sideline to the end zone.

"The guys (blockers) did an exception job of holding the gunners (wide coverage men) up,'' Wade said. "The rest was just finding the seam and I was able to get up there and the rest was the others -- three or four guys up the field making sure that we got in. It was a big play.''

The importance of the breathing room provided by Wade, who hadn't even been on the active roster in Week 1, was obvious.

"It could have been a game that went back and forth, but I think at a certain point in the game -- and I think the turning point was when Bobby Wade returned the punt for the touchdown -- we started rolling,'' said Muhammad, who made six catches for 81 yards, including his TD reception which ended an 80-yard drive.

The Lions couldn't run in the first half, were forced to play catch-up against the Bears' pass rush by throwing and Brown made his interception return with 57 seconds left in the first half.

"If you look at that play, there was great pressure and then the blocks set up,'' Brown said. I had a wall (of blockers). That's the easy part.''

It wasn't a perfect win. After all, the Bears did allow Eddie Drummond to return to kickoffs near mid-field.

"The turnovers really hurt (Detroit),'' Smith said. "But I thought we were really physical. I don't know exactly what happened with them.''

In the fourth quarter, Detroit Lions tight end Marcus Pollard sat near midfield after being leveled on Brown's helmet-to-helmet hit. He walked off the field.

As a team, the Lions had been leveled long before that.


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