DETROIT – Detroit Lions fans counted down the final seconds – as if it was New Year’s Eve – when the franchise finished its first Monday night game in a decade.
Matthew Stafford’s second touchdown pass put Detroit ahead in the third quarter and Jahvid Best’s 88-yard run later in the period gave the Lions a double-digit lead in a 24-13 victory over the Chicago Bears.
“It was electric,” Stafford said. “Our fans came out and did an unbelievable job.”
The Lions were pretty good, too.
Detroit (5-0) is undefeated through five games for the first time since 1956 – the year before its last NFL title.
Lions coach Jim Schwartz, though, refused to be celebrate, pointing to the team’s next game on Sunday at home against the San Francisco 49ers.
“We’ll start on San Fran in about an hour and a half,” Schwartz said.
The defending NFC North champion Bears (2-3), off to their worst start since 2007, are three games behind Detroit and defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay (5-0) in the division.
The Lions had their largest crowd at Ford Field and the 67,861 fans created enough noise to rattle the Bears into nine false starts.
The Bears looked unnerved at times by the raucous crowd. Chicago committed six false start penalties in the first half – an NFL season-high for a game, according to STATS, LLC.
“We were going against a loud crowd, but that isn’t an excuse,” Chicago coach Lovie Smith said. “Pre-snap penalties kill you.”
Chicago quieted the fans briefly by taking a 10-7 lead just before halftime and seemed to make them a little nervous by pulling within eight points with 4:07 left to play.
Best, though, made them roar again with a 43-yard run that was capped by a horse-collar penalty that gave Detroit the ball at the Chicago 22. He ran for another first down that took time off the clock and set up Jason Hanson’s 31-yard field goal with 1:56 to go to seal the victory.
The Lions got some big gains on offense and a lot of solid and subtle ones on defense, holding Chicago to three second-half points.
“Can’t give up the big plays,” Smith said. “Their defense made us earn everything. We didn’t do the same.”
Stafford lofted a pass to Calvin Johnson for a 73-yard score – extending his NFL-record start with nine TD catches in five games – early in the second quarter.
Best’s 88-yard run was the second-longest in franchise history, trailing only Bob Hoernschemeyer’s 96-yard run against the New York Yankees on Nov. 23, 1950. It was 3 yards longer than Barry Sanders’ longest run.
Smith was dumbfounded that Best wasn’t touched on the run through a hole up the middle and past the secondary.
“Hard to swallow,” Smith said. “Jahvid Best is a good player, but we can’t let that happen.”
Matt Forte ran for 116 yards on 22 carries for the Bears and Jay Cutler was 28 of 38 for 249 yards with a TD and no interceptions.
Det—Johnson 73 pass from Stafford (Hanson kick)
Chi—FG Gould 44
Chi—Davis 9 pass from Cutler (Gould kick)
Det—Pettigrew 18 pass from Stafford (Hanson kick)
Det—Best 88 run (Hanson kick)
Chi—FG Gould 49
Det—FG Hanson 31
|Total Net Yards||359||395|
|Time of Poss.||39:03||20:57|
RUSHING—Chicago, Forte 22-116, Cutler 2-3, Barber 1-3. Detroit, Best 12-163, K.Williams 4-7, Logan 1-6, Burleson 2-4, Stafford 1-1.
PASSING—Chicago, Cutler 28-38-0-249. Detroit, Stafford 19-26-1-219.
RECEIVING—Chicago, Sanzenbacher 6-64, Hester 5-32, Hurd 4-50, Forte 4-35, Davis 3-25, Knox 2-17, R.Williams 1-11, Spaeth 1-8, Barber 1-7, Clutts 1-0. Detroit, Johnson 5-130, Pettigrew 4-39, Best 4-9, T.Young 2-14, Scheffler 1-12, Morris 1-8, Burleson 1-6, Heller 1-1.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—None.