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Lions And Batch And Sanders, Oh My!


Detroit rookie Charlie Batch came of age just in time to heap a little more frustration upon the Chicago Bears.

Batch completed 16 of 21 passes for 253 yards and Tommy Vardell scored three touchdowns as the Lions defeated the Bears 26-3 Sunday night.

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"This might have been Charlie's best game," Lions coach Bobby Ross said. "He was very composed, made some nice checks for us at the line, and just played a very good game."

Steve Stenstrom, making his second start in place of injured Erik Kramer, was never in sync against the Lions (3-7), who won a Sunday game for the first time all season. Stenstrom was 13-of-25 for 159 yards for the Bears (3-7), who scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns to beat Detroit 31-27 with Kramer in charge on Oct. 4 in Chicago.

The Bears held Barry Sanders to 28 yards on 14 carries in their first meeting. But this time Sanders, wearing a flak jacket to protect sore ribs, rushed 24 times for 114 yards, the 75th 100-yard game of his career.

"I think he sucked it up for us, I really do," Ross said. "He didn't practice until Thursday because of the pain."

It was all Detroit almost from the start as Batch, showing a quicker release than in past games, gided the Lions to a 17-3 halftime lead.

"It seemed like the line gave me a lot of time," Batch said. "They did a big time job for me out there."

Batch threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Vardell, who also ran 3 yards and 1 yard for scores. Jason Hanson added field goals of 24 and 25 yards for Detroit.

Jeff Jaeger kicked a 31-yarder for Chicago's lone score.

The Lions got big plays from their special teams, too.

John Jett's 50-yard punt, coupled with a Chicago penalty, set the Bears back on their 8-yard line. When the Bears' Mike Horan shanked a 32-yard punt six plays later, the Lions started their next drive at the Bears 45.

A pass from Batch to Johnnie Morton ate up 22 yards and four plays later Batch hooked up with Vardell on a 12-yard scoring play.

Tommy Vardell
Fullback Tommy Vardell scores the first of his three touchdowns Sunday night. (AP)

After Jaeger's field goal, Detroit rookie Terry Fair returned the kickoff 34 yards, setting in motion a 63-yard scoring drive. Vardell capped it with a 3-yard run following a 17-yard pass interference penalty against Terry Cousin.

Mark Spindler registered his third blocked field goal when he got a hand on Jaeger's 43-yard attempt with 5:08 left in the second quarter. Detroit, with Batch completing passes of 24, 17, 18 and 6 yards, drove 60 yards for Hanson's 24-yarder.

The Bears' frustration was typified by one play in the third quarter.

The Lions had a fourth-and-43 on their 34 when Ricky Bell was called for roughing Jett. Given new life, the Lions went on to complete a 79-yard, 12 play drive for Vardell's 1-yard touchdown run and a 23-3 lead.

Batch hit Morton for 24 yards and Sanders had runs of 11 and 15 yards in the drive.

Stenstrom, who appeared to hurt his shoulder, was replaced by rookie Moses Moreno for three plays as the Bears drove to Detroit's 4 early in the fourth quarter. But Robert Porcher batted down Stenstrom's third-down pass and Ron Rice knocked down his fourth-down effort.

The Lions took over and drove 89 yards the other way for a 25-yard field goal with 2:19 remaining.

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