Muhsin Muhammad had game bests of nine catches and 118 receiving yards, and after three games he leads the Bears with 19 catches for 279 yards, which is on pace for 101 catches and 1,488 yards.
But Muhammad isn't the only receiving threat in the Bears' offense. He hasn't caught a touchdown pass yet, while wide receiver Bernard Berrian (12 catches, 208 yards) and tight end John Gilmore have two apiece, and tight end Desmond Clark (12 catches, 193 yards) and wide receiver Rashied Davis (5 catches, 87 yards) each have one touchdown.
"I think it does a lot for the confidence of the guys on the offense, the other receivers, the running backs, the tight ends," Muhammad said. "Everybody knows that the ball can come to them on any given occasion, and that makes you play harder."
Berrian had six catches for 70 yards against the Vikings, and Davis caught the game-winning 24-yard touchdown.
"Eventually there's going to be some games where they may not be able to get the ball to me the way they want to," Muhammad said. "Just like today, I could be the decoy, and Rashied could make the big touchdown, or Bernard. It really makes it hard to defense me when you're balanced, and that's what we're trying to accomplish."
According to coach Lovie Smith, it worked on Davis' first NFL touchdown, which gave the Bears a 19-16 victory.
"I think they were definitely thinking about the ball going to elsewhere," Smith said. "Moose had (118) yards, but that's why you need a third receiver to step up at this point."
"I told them last (Saturday) night in our meeting that we hadn't had any adversity yet, but it's going to come," offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. "I said, ‘Hopefully not (Sunday), but if it does come, we'll see how we handle it,' and we had a lot of it."
The results were inconclusive, quarterback Rex Grossman threw two interceptions and the Bears committed 10 penalties for 82 yards. But the bottom line is an unblemished record, and Grossman (23 of 41 for 278 yards) threw for more than 260 yards for the third week in a row, something he hadn't accomplished in his first three NFL seasons.
"At times we did some good things," Turner said. "But we did some things execution-wise that if we continue to do, we're not going to win. We've got to clean all that up. The positive on it is we've got guys making plays. We can correct the mental errors and the execution errors as long as we've got guys making plays. They've got a lot of heart, obviously, to keep battling, keep fighting. It's what we've been saying all along to stay the course, and stick with it."
The Bears frittered away a timeout prior to Robbie Gould's 41-yard first-quarter field goal, when left tackle John Tait, who missed a couple snaps with a shoulder injury, was late getting on the field.
"We didn't know (his condition) for sure," coach Lovie Smith said. "He came back out a little bit later on. Those are some of the things we have to clean up. We didn't handle that well."
"He knows he'll get his turn, and he's practicing really well," Turner said of the fourth overall pick in the 2005 draft. "He's had good weeks of practice and he knows we're going to go to him."
Starter Thomas Jones had another sub-par game, rushing for 54 yards on 18 carries as the Bears' run game continues to struggle. Jones has 181 yards for 60 carries (3.0-yard average) on the season and, as a team, the Bears are averaging just 2.7 yards per carry (249 yards on 91 attempts), while their opponents have averaged 4.0 yards per carry. The Vikings rushed for 97 yards on 24 attempts (a 4.0-yard average).
The Lions' slow start — 0-3 with two road games next on the schedule — cannot be considered a surprise. Even team executives were suggesting during the summer that the Lions would need time to get in sync with coach Rod Marinelli's new offensive and defensive systems.
But the question now is whether the Lions are making any real progress or whether sporadic flashes of offense and defense are just that — sporadic flashes — and nothing more.
In the season opener against Seattle, they played solid defense but very little offense.
In game two at Chicago, they were demolished on both sides of the ball.
In game three at home against a struggling Green Bay team, they showed a solid balance of running and passing but never came close to reeling in veteran quarterback Brett Favre.
Cornerback Dre' Bly says he is optimistic, that the first win could set off a chain reaction to start the Lions out of a five-year stay in the NFL doldrums.
"Winning is contagious," Bly said. "So, hopefully, we just have to find that one win. Once we find that win, we'll be fine. There's a lot of football left to be played and it's frustrating but we have to move forward."
Perhaps the biggest surprise — and disappointment — is that the Lions' defense has not been better than it has, considering Marinelli's background as a defensive line coach and a disciple of Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy.
In the last two weeks, they have given up 34 points to Chicago and 31 to Green Bay, which makes them one of the most generous defenses in the NFL.
"It's very tough," Bly said. "We're better than we played the last two weeks. We have a very talented defense. We probably have the most dominate guy up front (Pro Bowl defensive tackle Shaun Rogers) and then on the back end if you give me the opportunity to make plays, I'll make plays.
"And then we have the guys in the middle. We also have other guys who play well. We just have to stay focused and eliminate the big plays."
For one thing, Lewand is a baseball fan. For the second, it would make life considerably less complicated for the Lions if the Tigers outlasted the Minnesota Twins in the race for the AL Central Division title.
It seems if the Twins win the AL Central, there is a possibility they will be hosting game five of the ALDS at the Metrodome in Minneapolis on Oct. 8, the day the Lions and Vikings are scheduled to meet in an NFL North division game.
Because the Twins have precedence, it means the Lions-Vikings game would have to be rescheduled. Either the game would be moved to Monday night, Oct. 9, or the Lions and Vikings would have to swap home dates. They would move the Oct. 8 game to Detroit and they would play Dec. 10 in Minneapolis.
"We've prepared ourselves for several different contingencies," Lewand said.
The Lions would strongly oppose an exchange of home dates, however, because it would mean they would be playing four of their final five games on the road.
More likely, the game would be played on Monday night, on short notice. It would still be an inconvenience but it would seem to be the lesser of two evils."
Lewand's first choice?
"I'm still rooting hard for the Tigers," Lewand said, with a grin.
When the Lions were forced to punt early in the fourth quarter, it was Pollard who made the stop with a perfectly executed open field tackle on Packers punt returner Charles Woodson.
"It was a pretty good pop," Pollard said. "It's better popping somebody than getting popped for a change. It felt good. It was nice to get a chance to hit somebody and not get hit."
Pollard said the best part of the play was the reception he got from other special teams players when he got back to the sidelines. Fellow tight end Casey FitzSimmons was the first to greet Pollard as he left the field.
"He's always watching me and I'm always watching him; we're always pulling for one another," Pollard said. "He's the first person I saw when I got to the sideline."
Donte' Curry, the special teams captain, and linebacker Alex Lewis, another special teams regular, also congratulated Pollard.
"To get a compliment from somebody like that is very much appreciated," he said.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
A greater emphasis will be placed on ball security when practice resumes Wednesday in the wake of running backs Ahman Green and Noah Herron losing two fumbles in the Packers' 31-24 victory at Detroit on Sunday.
"Just have to keep emphasizing it," head coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. "Those are two critical plays in the game that could have really factored into the football game."
Herron cost the Packers potentially at least three points and maybe a touchdown when he had the ball stripped after catching a shovel pass inside the Lions' 10-yard line late in the first half. The Packers led 17-14 at the time.
Then, with Green Bay protecting a 31-24 lead and the game clock inside of a minute in the fourth quarter, Green had the ball jarred out of his left arm on a run to the outside. Detroit, though, couldn't capitalize with a last-ditch touchdown that would have forced overtime.
Green has had two fourth-quarter fumbles in the last two games. A turnover in Week 2 against New Orleans set up Deuce McAllister for a 23-yard touchdown run that proved to be the deciding points in the Saints' 34-27 win.
Green, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, has a history of early-season fumbling problems.
"(Running backs coach) Edgar Bennett does a good job with his individuals; he stresses (ball security) every day. We just have to keep emphasizing," McCarthy said. "That's our job — teach and demand. We need to get it corrected."
A week after head coach Mike McCarthy said Colledge played "just OK" in his starting debut in Week 2, McCarthy praised the second-round draft pick Monday, a day after the Packers prevailed 31-24 at Detroit.
"He played much better this week," McCarthy assessed. "I feel like Daryn is really improving. I see a player who's starting to get more comfortable. He had an excellent challenge (Sunday); their defensive line was a good challenge for us."
Colledge again started in place of rookie Jason Spitz, who's been sidelined since suffering a thigh injury in the season opener.
Spitz could be back this week, which is a long one since the Packers don't play until Monday at Philadelphia. Rookie Tony Moll has started the first three games at right guard.
"We'll play the best two of the three, whoever is playing the best at that time," McCarthy said. "Their level of experience is all very similar, so we're just going to keep looking for the right combinations in there with those guys."
Colledge was demoted from the starting job at left guard after he struggled in the first preseason game. Spitz moved from right guard to left guard, and Moll took over at right guard.
The line had its finest performance of the young season Sunday, holding off Pro Bowl tackle Shaun Rogers and not permitting one sack of Brett Favre.
Taylor was inserted in the base package for a series late in the first quarter after Poppinga continued to struggle in pass coverage. Taylor also relieved Poppinga for a few plays in the second half.
"I liked it. I thought Ben went in and did a nice job," McCarthy said. "You never have enough good players. He gave Brady a little relief; his reps have been up the last two weeks. So, that's something we may do more of."