Holmes: A Rivalry Is Born
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By Laurence Holmes-
CHICAGO (WSCR) It’s been brewing since the Monday night game last month. In fact, the kindling for this fire was sparked with Calvin Johnson’s non-catch in the opener last year. The Bears and Lions don’t like each other and Sunday it boiled over.
“You can only have one true rival and we know it always will be Green Bay. You can call that a rivalry too with them (Lions). Detroit has played pretty good football this year so we knew what type of game it was going to be,” Lovie Smith said.
The Bears took pleasure in dismantling the upstart Lions. During the Monday night game, the Bears lockeroom was abuzz with accusations of late hits, dirty play and trash-talking. The Lions were acting like a team that had arrived. They hadn’t then and they haven’t now. Bears players took the loss and the actions of Detroit players personally. They’ve been harboring resentment and looking for payback since. Sunday they got it.
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Photos: Bears 37, Lions 13
The most important part of that is the Bears walked away with the win. They tied the Lions with a 6-3 record. It was a game that the Lions wanted and needed. Looking at their remaining schedule, the road for Detroit just got harder. They have games at Oakland and New Orleans along with two games left with Green Bay.
Secondly, the Bears returned the favor of an embarassing loss. They put it on the Lions with three non-offensive touchdowns. The Bears had six takeaways and physically dominated defensively.
After the Monday night game, the Bears were shell-shocked. They used the loss to make significant changes in scheme and personnel. They decided to focus on doing more of the stuff they do well. But they never forgot. When the Lions started taking shots on Sunday, the Bears shot back.
“It wasn’t clean and it wasn’t quiet,” Cutler said of the game.
Ndamukong Suh continues to earn a reputation as a dirty player. He ripped Cutler’s helmet off while making a tackle.
“I think it’s safe to say you shouldn’t do that,” Smith said.
Suh also took what the Bears thought was a late hit on Cutler on another play. His play seemed to rub off on rookie Nick Fairley who took a personal foul hit. Even former Bear, Rashied Davis was seen mixing it up on a punt return.
It got ugly, mean and dirty, but this time the Bears fought back.
D.J. Moore got ejected for going after Matthew Stafford who grabbed his facemask after throwing a pick. Stafford’s explanation strains credibility.
“He kind of blocked me and I was just trying to get him off of me the best I knew how,” Stafford said. “I guess he didn’t like the way I did it and he wanted to ask me about it.”
You start to wonder if this is the way the Lions are coached to play. Moore and the Bears had enough. The Bears nickelback expects a big fine from the league, but he’s hopeful that NFL executives will also see what caused him to lose his cool.
“If you went back and reviewed the play and you saw what (Stafford) did and you still eject me and still leave him in? Once the game was getting out of hand and they were getting more frustrated and throwing a couple more interceptions and stuff like that, everybody was just getting upset,” Moore said.
Ordinarily a breakdown in discipline like this would anger Smith, but it felt like Smith was OK with his guys going up the street to confront the bully.
“You had two good football teams playing, two division opponents that know each other well. Two physical football teams, so that (chippy play) happens from time to time. I don’t think any real damage was done,” Smith said.
Cutler almost endorsed it.
“At a certain point, I think this team has to draw the line and if a team is going to cross that, we’re gonna have to retaliate to stand up for ourselves,” Cutler said.
From an identity standpoint, this isn’t who the Bears are. It’s not who they want to be either. The Bears would rather scream “scoreboard” and let their play do the talking, but against Detroit, it’s who they were pushed to be. They took notice four weeks ago and had payback on their mind. They expected a confrontation and were ready for it. The great by-product for football fans is that in the last year a rivalry has been born.
For more Bears coverage, follow Laurence on Twitter (@LHolmes670).