Jon Kitna passed for 268 yards, Kevin Jones ran for 105 yards and a touchdown, and the Lions again showed they're serious contenders in the NFC with a 16-7 victory over the Bears on Sunday.
Detroit is 5-2 for the first time since 2000 and making a strong bid for its first playoff appearance since 1999. The Lions have endured six straight seasons with at least 10 losses and won just three games last year, coach Rod Marinelli's first. But things are different now.
Four weeks earlier, they scored an NFL-record 34 points in the fourth quarter to beat the Bears 37-27 in Detroit.
This time, they didn't need the dramatics.
They got two field goals by Jason Hanson along with a 4-yard touchdown run by Jones in the second quarter to take a 13-0 halftime lead and hung on from there.
Jones, making his second straight start after suffering a foot injury last December, was effective again after running for 76 yards and catching six passes for 34 in a 23-16 victory over Tampa Bay.
Kitna wasn't bad, either, completing 24-of-35 without an interception. Roy Williams caught eight passes for 77 yards, and Shaun McDonald added six catches for 64 yards.
Greg Olsen's 20-yard touchdown catch with 5:26 left in the third quarter pulled the Bears within 13-7, but it was a dreary day for a team that was hoping to go into the bye with a .500 record. Instead, the defending NFC champions are 3-5 and reeling again.
Chicago got a scare in the game's final minute, when Devin Hester was sandwiched trying to make a catch near the goal. He walked off the field and appeared to be fine.
However, looked anything but fine.
Brian Griese was unable to carry over the magic he used to orchestrate a game-winning 97-yard touchdown drive at Philadelphia the previous week, and the running game was a rumor again.
Griese threw four interceptions and got picked off three times in the end zone.
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The Bears were threatening to pull within 16-14 when Gerald Alexander intercepted a pass intended for Mark Bradley midway through the fourth and sucked the energy out of the crowd.
It may have sucked the life out of the Bears, too.
The blame goes beyond Griese, who was 22-of-40 for 208 yards.
Cedric Benson had another rough afternoon, finishing with 50 yards on 13 carries. He dropped a pass on the game's first play, and things did not improve for him or the Bears.
Chicago's Robbie Gould missed a 40-yard field goal with 4:47 left in the first quarter, and the Bears immediately paid. Safety Adam Archuleta didn't help matters when he bumped Williams on a deep pass down the right side, a 47-yard penalty that moved the Lions to the 28.
A 23-yard pass to Mike Furrey put the ball on the 5, but Detroit had to settle for a field goal by Hanson on the first play of the second quarter, the ball hitting the right upright.
Things continued to get worse for Chicago.
The Bears had inched their way from their 45 to the 26 when Griese attempted to hit Mark Bradley in double coverage in the end zone. A leaping Kenoy Kennedy made the interception, and the Lions again made the Bears pay.
Jones ran it in from the 4 this time, plowing over Lance Briggs, to make it 10-0 and cap a 93-yard drive. Hanson missed a 29-yard field goal on the first possession of the third quarter, and the Lions had to settle for a 20-yard field goal in the opening seconds of the fourth after driving to the 1.
[The Associated Press;
By ANDREW SELIGMAN]
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