In a game marred by penalties, costly injuries and poor play, the Detroit Lions got it done. Symbolic to their 24 consecutive road losses, Sunday's 20-16 win over the Chicago Bears was ugly, but for the second consecutive season under head coach Steve Mariucci, the Lions have started a campaign 1-0 -- this time on the road.
"It's important to end the streak for all the obvious reasons," said Mariucci. "We are glad it's over, believe me."
Mariucci might have also been referring to the game, which witnessed injuries to No 1. wide receiver Charles Rogers and All Pro cornerback Dre' Bly.
In the first half, the Lions lost Rogers to what has been deemed a broken collarbone -- on the same shoulder injured last year. This time, though, it's been broken in a different place. He could miss the next 6-8 weeks.
Bly, meanwhile, delivered a crushing hit on a Bears' tight end later in the half, before limping away from the play. Bly has been diagnosed with a sprained MCL and will likely miss the next three weeks, which encompasses two games.
After storming back to take a 20-14 lead late in the 4th quarter, the Lions survived a late scare after Bears' quarterback Rex Grossman -- starting in Lions' territory -- marched into the red zone with less than a minute remaining.
Grossman's second interception of the game proved costly, however, when strong safety Bracy Walker snagged his intended pass to David Terrell in the endzone.
Grossman, in just his fourth pro start, was relatively ineffective, completing 16 of 35 passes for 227 yards and zero touchdowns.
Walker, meanwhile, had collected his second critical play of the game. In the third quarter, Walker's 92-yard touchdown off a Shaun Rogers blocked field set a Lions' record for the longest return off a blocked kick, and also handed Detroit 10-7 advantage.
Lions' quarterback Joey Harrington's performance, meanwhile, was marred by a lack of a running game, dropped passes, and the absence of Rogers. Still, Harrington avoided critical mistakes, tossing just one interception but completing an important 3rd and goal by finding wide receiver Az-Zahir Hakim in the endzone in the 4th quarter. It would prove to be the winning score.
Harrington finished 14 of 26 for 187 yards.
Both teams combined for 18 penalties (nine apeice), but the Lions forced four Bear turnovers, in addition to the blocked field goal.
Lions' running back Kevin Jones ran 15 times for 36 yards, and was pretty much stifled by an attacking Bears' run defense. Artose Pinner chipped in with 5 carries for 21 yards.
Rookie wide reciever Roy Williams led Detroit with four receptions for 69 yards, including an acrobatic 27-yard catch earlier in the contest.
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