Football in the black and blue division is seldom pretty, especially when Detroit and Chicago hook up. That's especially true this season, when few NFC teams stand out.
Gus Frerotte threw two touchdown passes as Detroit jumped to a 21-0 lead, then held on for a 21-17 Thanksgiving Day win over the Chicago Bears, giving the Lions a half-game lead in the slug-it-out NFC Central at least temporarily.
"There haven't been any blowouts in the NFC this season, except maybe Washington's big (48-22) win over Chicago," Frerotte said. "This is a year when every team is in it, and the games are going to be close."
Detroit,(7-4) broke a two-game losing streak that had dropped it into a tie with Tampa Bay and Minnesota, both of which play Sunday in a bunched division. The last-place Bears (5-7) started the day only a game-and-a-half behind.
"I didn't play my best game today, but we never gave up and we were able to fight through it," Frerotte said. "That's how we win games we grit them out."
Jim Miller, a career third-stringer who had passed for 779 yards and four TDs in the Bears' previous two games, rallied Chicago back with help from some Detroit mistakes. He was 25 of 37 for 204 yards with one interception in this game and had a 3-yard touchdown pass to Alonzo Mayes and a 23-yarder to Marty Booker.
The Lions Defeated The Bears On Thanksgiving Day.(SportsLine)
The Lions scored on their fourth snap of the game as Frerotte hit Crowell on a slant. Crowell, who had two steps on cornerback Terry Cousin, easily won the foot race to the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
"We weren't playing that well. What can I say?" Miller said. "That's out job, to go out and execute. We didn't do that."
Detroit's defense held the Bears without a first down on four first-quarter possessions, but the Lions' offense wasn't doing much until midway through the second quarter when the running game got in gear.
With Hill picking up 61 yards on five carries, the Lions drove 73 yards in six plays, taking a 14-0 lead on Hill's touchdown sweep around left end. Hill faked out safety Chris Hudson with a cutback at the 14 and scored untouched.
On the first snap of Chicago's next possession, Robert Porcher hit Miller's arm during his throwing motion and the ball fluttered into the arms of linebacker Scott Kowalkowski who returned it 29 yards. Three plays later, Frerotte tossed a TD pass to Morton and the Lions led 21-0 with 1:37 left in the half.
|Lions' quarterback Gus Frerotte threw 2 touchdown passes Thursday.|
Miller completed five straight passes in a 53-yard, five-play scoring drive, narrowing the gap to 21-7 with the TD toss Mayes. Marcus Robinson had a 37-yard catch in the drive, which took just 1:15 to complte.
Chris Boniol's 26-yard field goal made it 21-10 with 7:29 left in the third quarter.
Detroit had the Bears backed up to their own 3 in the third quarter, but when Iheanyi Uwaezuoke fumbled a punt at midfield, Keith Burns recovered at the Detroit 49 and the Bears had new life.
"You just can't do that," Detroit coach Bobby Ross said. "We had the lead, and we had good field position, and you have to be careful in that situation. We didn't play that one very smart."
Five plays later, on the first snap of the fourth quarter, Miller hooked up with Booker and it was 21-17.
"We had a chance to win and we just didn't finish it out at the end," Miller said.
The Lions' offense was just good enough. Detroit took over at its own 35 with 6:09 remaining and managed to run out the clock as Frerotte hit key third-down passes of 12, 15 and 13 yards. For the game, Detroit had the ball 38:16.
"I knew Thanksgiving was a big day for the Lions," said Chicago defensive tackle Mike Wells, who played for Detroit from 1994-97. "We knew it was going to be tough coming in. We just simply made too many mistakes to win today."
Wide receiver Herman Moore, out since a knee injury Oct. 17 against Minnesota, saw spot duty for the Lions, making his first reception of the season, a 19-yard pickup, with 8:27 left in the third quarter.
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