Lions Brought Back To Reality

Loss to Chicago brings team to familiar position: Below .500. Several player notes and more inside.

ALLEN PARK - The euphoria is over and the Lions are back to reality.

They are also back to the sub-.500 record that has become a part of their recent identity, facing the prospect of another disappointing season.

Quarterback Jeff Garcia, who led the Lions to victory in his first start a week earlier, threw the pass that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman, giving the Bears a 19-13 overtime Sunday win at Ford Field in Detroit.

Instead of getting the win and taking over first place in the NFC North, the Lions slipped to 3-4 and, in the process, lost the head-to-head tiebreaker to the Bears, who swept the season series.

"I was just trying to make a play," said Garcia, reprising a common theme for Lions quarterbacks in recent seasons. "I know from experience not to throw the ball across the field. One way or the other, it is just looking for bad things to happen."

There were hints from both Garcia and coach Steve Mariucci that Garcia might have been less than 100 percent physically by the time he made his ill-fated throw. It was only the second game -- after a second week of practice -- in his comeback from a broken left fibula suffered in the final pre-season game.

Nevertheless, Mariucci said he plans to stick with Garcia -- ahead of previous starter Joey Harrington -- as long as Garcia is healthy enough to get his work done on the practice field and line up under center when the Lions play at Minnesota next Sunday.

With nine games remaining on the schedule, the Lions clearly have their work cut out for them. Because they are 0-2 against the Bears, they have to finish with a better record than the Bears to have a chance at the division title.

That means if the Bears win four of their remaining nine games (that would make them 8-8 for the season), the Lions would have to win six of their remaining nine to get to 9-7.

That's a lot to ask of a team that has won six games in a full season only once in the last four years.

The Lions wasted a 10-point second half rally -- and with it a chance to take over sole possession of first place in the NFC North -- in a 19-13 overtime loss Sunday to the Chicago Bears.

The loss was their second in four home games and left them with a 3-4 record going into their game next Sunday at Minnesota.

The game was decided on Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman's interception and 22-yard touchdown return of a pass thrown by Lions quarterback Jeff Garcia as he was being harried by the Chicago defense.

Earlier, the Lions rallied from a 13-3 halftime deficit on running back Kevin Jones' six-yard touchdown run (the first against the Bears defense this season) and Jason Hanson's 30-yard field goal. Hanson missed a 47-yard attempt and connected on a 32-yarder in the first quarter.

--KR/KOR Eddie Drummond returned to duty Sunday and had kickoff returns of 28 and 34 yards among his five attempts in the Lions' 19-13 loss to Chicago. Drummond missed the previous two games with a hyper-extended knee and it was a game-day decision to start him on kick returns.
--WR Scottie Vines, forced into starting duty because of injuries to Lions WRs Roy Williams and Kevin Johnson, and the drug suspension of Charles Rogers, had his second consecutive five-catch game. Vines' five receptions were good for 61 yards.
--QB Jeff Garcia, the hero of the Lions' 13-10 victory at Cleveland a week ago, was the goat of their 19-13 loss Sunday to the Chicago Bears. Garcia completed 23 of 35 passes for 197 but his final throw was intercepted by CB Charles Tillman and returned for the game-winning touchdown in overtime.
--PK Jason Hanson is perfect on his last six field-goal attempts of 50 yards or more but has missed three times (including one blocked attempt) from 47 yards in the last three games. Hanson had a pulled right hamstring earlier in the season and his usual LS Don Muhlbach missed the two previous games.
--RB Kevin Jones scored his fourth rushing touchdown of the season in the Lions' 19-13 loss to Chicago on Sunday but he continued to struggle to get meaningful rushing yardage. In 18 carries, Jones gained 66 yards. His most productive game of the season was the Lions' opener against Green Bay in which he carried 25 times for 87 yards.


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