ALLEN PARK - The Bears Brian Urlacher basically called out the Lions offensive line prior to the team's 38-6 whipping of Detroit at Soldier Field earlier this season. Urlacher's "you said it, not me" comment when asked about the Lions offensive line being suspect rubbed several players the wrong way, but the Bears backed it up.
Lions center Dominic Raiola said it was clear from those comments and the way the first meeting transpired that Chicago doesn't think much of Detroit.
"They don't have any respect for us," said Raiola. "I wouldn't either though after what he said and they backed up. It's up to us to do something about."
Raiola said it wasn't so much that the Bears were more physical than Detroit, it was the situation of the game that caused things to get out of control.
"It was we got behind, had to pass, we had to get into the passing game and we all know that's not our game." Raiola went on to mention a laundry list of things that went wrong for the team against Chicago.
"Third-and-longs, we can't get into third-and-longs. Penalties can't set up back. We've got to be a smart, sound team this week."
Raiola said the team experienced a lift from the insertion of Jeff Garcia as the team's starting quarterback.
"I think he's, you know....we've talked about this time and time again, that he's been in the system, he's been in this offense where he recognizes blitzes. He knows where the stuff is coming from. He's been around, he knows where the blitz is, he's probably seen every blitz possible. It's evident that he knows where the blitzes are coming from and where the ball can be thrown. So he helps us out a lot."
Raiola said he and Garcia have to work together to make a play go, especially against the blitz. Raiola said each of the two have to carry out their respective assignments.
"I still call the protections, it's up to him to adjust the play calling, that's what he does, that's his job."
Raiola said while the team has improved against the blitzes, Chicago provides the litmus test.
"I wouldn't give us that much credit yet. I think Chicago is a totally different team when it comes to blitzing as far as speed and timing things up. They're one of the best in the league in doing that. So I wouldn't pat ourselves on the back too much yet, but I still think that just the [improvement in] recognition up front; knowing where the blitz can come and when it can come, I think it's just a tribute to guys watching film and guys studying."
While the Lions aren't looking for revenge for what happened in the first matchup, they all realize the importance of this game -- that the winner will establish itself as the sole leader in the NFC North.
"There's a lot of football left to be played but at the same time, " said Raiola, "This early in the season, it's probably as big of a game as has been around this place in a while."