|Lions running back Jahvid Best is all alone as he runs for an 88-yard touchdown - the second-longest run in franchise history - against the Bears in the third quarter. (Mike Segar/Reuters)|
Lions put Best foot forward
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.
The Motor City is hoping this party doesn’t stop any time soon.
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 win over the Chicago Bears last night.
“It was electric,’’ Stafford said. “Our fans came out and did an unbelievable job.’’
The Lions did a pretty good job, too.
Detroit (5-0) is undefeated through five games for the first time since 1956 - the year before its last NFL title.
The defending NFC North champion Bears (2-3) are off to their worst start since 2007. They 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.
“We were going against a loud crowd, but that isn’t an excuse,’’ Chicago coach Lovie Smith said. “Presnap penalties kill you.’’
Chicago quieted the fans briefly by taking a 10-7 lead just before halftime on Jay Cutler’s 9-yard pass to Kellen Davis 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 kick with 1:56 to go to seal the victory.
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 Lions history.
“Hard to swallow,’’ Smith said. “Jahvid Best is a good player, but we can’t let that happen.’’
Stafford was 19 of 26 for 219 yards with two TDs, including the go-ahead score to Brandon Pettigrew from 18 yards with 9:55 to go in the third quarter. Best more than doubled his previous career-high with 163 yards rushing on 12 carries. Johnson finished with five catches for 130 yards, failing to score twice for the first time this season, but making an impact as usual against a team that tried to slow him down with double coverage.
Matt Forte ran for 116 yards on 22 carries for the Bears.
Cutler was 28 of 38 for 249 yards with a TD and no interceptions, but was sacked three times.
The Lions, who became the NFL’s first 0-16 team just two years ago, are finally giving their fans something to cheer about.
“Some of our guys were on the team, so they know what the city’s been through,’’ Best said. “They know what this team’s been through. I can definitely feel the sense of how hungry the city is.’’