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Lions snap road woes, top Bears 20-16
Lions snap road woes, top Bears 20-16
NFL.com wire reports
CHICAGO (Sept. 12, 2004) -- Bracy Walker got one of the game balls and rightfully so.
Needing intravenous fluids to fight off dehydration, Walker rescued the Detroit Lions from the NFL's longest road losing streak Sunday.
He rambled 92 yards for a TD after teammate Shaun Rogers blocked a third-quarter field goal attempt. And later he preserved Detroit's 20-16 victory over the Chicago Bears, intercepting Rex Grossman 's pass in the end zone pass with 18 second left.
"It's important to end the streak for all the obvious reasons," Lions head coach Steve Mariucci said after his team's 24-game stretch of road losses was wiped away. "We are glad it's over, believe me."
Detroit's victory spoiled the coaching debut of the Bears' Lovie Smith, whose team was bogged down by penalties and mistakes.
The victory was a costly one for the Lions. They lost WR Charles Rogers to a broken collarbone for the second straight year and he could miss most of the season. He got hurt going for a first-quarter pass. Rogers, the second overall pick in the 2003 draft, played only five games last season.
Pro Bowl cornerback Dre' Bly will have an MRI after spraining a knee ligament in the first quarter.
Joey Harrington tossed a 4-yard go-ahead TD pass to Az-Zahir Hakim in the fourth quarter and Detroit held on for its first road victory since beating the Jets on Dec. 17, 2000.
With 1:54 left, facing a difficult punt out of their own end zone, the Lions chose to have punter Nick Harris run out of the end zone for safety. It cut the lead to 20-16, but gave the Lions a free kick -- a strategy that nearly backfired.
R.W. McQuarters returned the free kick 37 yards to the Detroit's 47 and Grossman's 19-yard pass to David Terrell and a 15-yard run by Thomas Jones got the Bears to the Lions 9.
With no timeouts, Grossman was sacked and then had to spike the ball on second down. Scrambling on third down, he threw the ball to the corner for Terrell, but Walker made the pick.
"Grossman started to scramble and I thought he was going to try and run it into the end zone," Walker said. "He just so happened to throw the ball, and I looked and it fell into my hands."
Grossman, who lost a fumble and had two interceptions, took the blame.
"I was trying to throw it up for a jump ball situation for David in the back of the end zone. I threw it a little short," Grossman said. "I should have thrown it away. I didn't."
Thomas Jones' second 2-yard TD run, this one with 12:40 left, put the Bears up 14-13, a score set up by a roughing-the-passer penalty.
Trailing at the half 7-3, Detroit took the lead when Rogers blocked Paul Edinger's 27-yard field goal attempt and Walker grabbed the ball, picked up some blockers and cut back across the field on the 92-yard return.
"I heard that dreaded sound, "the thump" and the ball just happened to roll my way. My first instinct was to run," Walker said.
"It was all discombobulated and I thought about pitching it to Andre' Goodman, but he was running so fast it would have been a forward lateral. I didn't have any legs."
The Bears had three second-half turnovers and three big penalties -- one on Terrell for taunting after he made a catch along the sideline and then handed the ball to Harris. Two more were for personal fouls, one on center Olin Kreutz and another on defensive back Charles Tillman for shoving a scrambling Harrington after he'd run out of bounds.
"I just dropped the ball. I didn't throw it at him," Terrell said. "The refs called nitpicky fouls all day. The personal foul on Olin Kreutz wasn't a personal foul. So they made bad calls."
Rookie Roy Williams' spectacular one-handed grab of a Harrington pass went for a 26-yard gain to the Bears 17 late in the second quarter.
When McQuarters was called for pass interference on Williams in the end zone, Detroit had first-and-goal at the 1. But Kevin Jones ' TD run was called back by holding on Cory Schlesinger and the Lions had to settle for Jason Hanson's 26-yard field goal with 16 seconds to go.
Grossman connected with Terrell on back-to-back passes of 30 and 27 yards to set up Thomas Jones' 2-yard TD run in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.
Former Bears coach Dick Jauron, fired in January, was also given a game ball as the Lions' defensive coordinator. ... There were 18 penalties, nine on each team. ... Harrington was 14 of 26 for 187 yards, Grossman 16 of 35 for 227. ... Terrell had the first 100-yard receiving day of his career, five receptions for 126 yards.
The Associated Press News Service
Copyright 2004, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
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