Final Score: Chicago 19, Detroit 14
Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - Jay Cutler threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to
Matt Forte with 1:32 remaining in the fourth quarter, and the Chicago Bears
withstood a controversial ruling to squeak by the Detroit Lions, 19-14, in the
season opener from Soldier Field.
After the Bears failed on the two-point conversion, the Lions got the ball
back at their own 17-yard line. Detroit backup quarterback Shaun Hill,
replacing the injured Matthew Stafford, led the Lions down the field, hitting
Bryant Johnson for a 24-yard gain, rookie running back Jahvid Best for eight
yards and Tony Scheffler for 10. A 16-yard strike to Calvin Johnson placed
the ball at the Chicago 25 and, after Hill spiked the ball to stop the clock,
Calvin Johnson made a leaping grab over a Chicago defender in the end zone for
a potential go-ahead score.
However, the officials ruled it was an incompletion because Johnson failed to
maintain possession through the completion of the play. The fourth-year wide
receiver lost control of the ball as he made his way to his feet after hitting
The play was upheld following a video review.
"I saw it exactly the way (the official) did. Didn't really think they had to
look at the replay," said Chicago head coach Lovie Smith. "The rule says you
have to come down and complete the catch all the way through. The ball came
out at the end, so I thought it was pretty cut and dry."
Chicago then held on for the win after Hill threw two more incompletions.
"The time I stand up here and start blaming officials for a loss is the time
that I don't need to be doing this anymore," said Detroit head coach Jim
Schwartz. "We had chances to win the game, we had chances to put the game
away. We battled the entire way but to point to one play like that for the
reason we won or lost is not going to be us."
Forte added an 89-yard TD reception in the second quarter for the Bears (1-0),
who went 7-9 last season. Cutler was 23-of-35 for 372 yards with one
interception and a fumble.
Stafford completed 11-of-15 passes for 83 yards before exiting with a right
shoulder injury after a sack by Chicago newcomer Julius Peppers late in the
first half. Stafford's arm was in a sling as he stood on the sideline in the
"We still have to do all the tests but it was significant enough to not put
(Stafford) back in the game. It's too soon to know if or how long he'll be
out," Schwartz said.
Best scored both touchdowns for Detroit (0-1), which has now lost 21 straight
road games. The Lions finished 2-14 in Schwartz's first season a year ago
following an 0-16 2008 campaign.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Bears had an excellent opportunity to
take the lead after linebacker Lance Briggs forced a fumble on Hill's exchange
to Best and recovered the ball at the Detroit one. But the Lions defense came
through with a goal-line stand to keep Chicago out of the end zone and
preserve a one-point lead. The Bears opted against the go-ahead field goal.
Following a series of punts, the Bears started a drive with roughly 3 1/2
minutes remaining from their own 44, and Chicago seized the lead on Forte's
second TD reception.
Forte caught seven passes for 151 yards and had 50 yards on 17 carries.
Cutler led Chicago down the field on the game's opening series, but the Bears
had to settle for a Robbie Gould 20-yard field goal after Forte was bottled up
for a loss on third down at the Detroit two-yard line.
Cutler, who was picked off an NFL-high 26 times last season, his first in the
Windy City following a trade from Denver, threw an interception on Chicago's
Facing a 3rd-and-20 from his own 44, Cutler threw into triple-coverage deep
down the middle and Detroit cornerback Aaron Berry hauled in a tipped ball.
The Lions took over at the Chicago 42 following a 23-yard return. A roughing
the passer penalty assessed to Peppers on third down extended the drive for
Detroit, which also converted a 3rd-and-8 from the 17 when Stafford hit
Scheffler for a 10-yard gain. Best found the end zone on the next play to give
Detroit a 7-3 lead with 2:15 remaining in the first quarter.
The teams combined for 17 points in the final 90 seconds of the half.
Earlier in the second stanza, the Bears committed a pair of fumbles to derail
promising drives. The third Chicago turnover of the game gave Detroit the ball
at its own 40, and Best capped the 10-play march with a four-yard TD run.
However, Chicago quickly answered on the first play of the ensuing series as
Cutler hit Forte on a screen pass and he rumbled down the right sideline for
the score with 1:03 left.
Rather than run out the time remaining in the quarter, Detroit looked to move
the ball and the decision proved to be costly with the injury Stafford.
After consecutive five-yard completions to Scheffler set up a first down at
the Lions' 45, Stafford was hurt after being sacked by Peppers. The No. 1
overall draft pick last year fumbled as he landed on his throwing shoulder.
Chicago's Tommie Harris recovered, and the Bears trailed 14-13 after Gould
ended the half by drilling a 31-yard field goal.
Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the second overall pick in April's
draft, recorded a sack...Hill was 9-of-19 for 88 yards and one
interception...The Lions haven't won on the road since October 28, 2007 at
Soldier Field...Chicago has won five straight meetings with Detroit.
09/12 18:53:08 ET
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