By Chris Emma—
DETROIT, Mich. (CBS) – A game of countless swings, breaks, highs, lows, regrets and compelling moments was best described by Bears quarterback Jay Cutler with one word: bizarre.
At many points on Sunday at Ford Field, it seemed the Bears would win – and that the Lions would win, and so on. But when it all finally came to an end – just 2:29 away from a tie – Detroit had earned its first victory of the season and broke hearts in Chicago, winning 37-34 in overtime.
“It’s tough, it’s tough,” Cutler said.
An odd day at Ford Field began with the national anthem lyrics being scrambled out of order, and it only got weirder from there. Looking to reach the .500 mark headed into a bye week, the Bears had countless chances to put the game away. The Lions did, too, even though they kept getting in their own way.
Had the Bears gone better than 3-for-8 on touchdowns in the red zone, converted a first down with two-and-a-half minutes remaining, stopped the Lions immediately after, found a way to win in overtime – etc. – they would’ve moved to 3-3 on the season. Their postgame locker room would’ve been jubilant, not one filled with sorrow.
It would’ve been a third straight win for the Bears if Cutler wasn’t picked in the end zone during the third quarter, if Pernell McPhee wasn’t flagged for roughing the passer on the Lions’ final drive of regulation or if Harold Jones-Quartey didn’t get beat by future Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson to set up Matt Prater’s game-winning field goal.
Chicago coach John Fox can look back on costly penalties, like when Will Sutton lined up offsides on a McPhee sack, setting the Lions up for a touchdown drive. He can point to poor execution, like when his Bears were fooled by a fake punt that propelled the Lions to a fourth-quarter field goal. And he may hold regrets of the final minute of regulation, for letting 15 seconds off the clock before calling a timeout, then not declining a 10-second runoff.
Chicago ran out of time for the game-winning touchdown and was forced to settle for a field goal to bring on overtime.
No matter what stands out most from a wild day in the Motor City, this is a loss that stings for the Bears.
“The game was basically given to us,” Bears running back Matt Forte said.
Sunday’s strange game was best encapsulated by an odd sequence late in the second quarter, when Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford’s pass was momentarily possessed by Golden Tate just past the goal line, then knocked loose off two hands and into the arms of Bears linebacker Jonathan Anderson.
What seemed to be a Bears pick was overturned by video review in New York, which led to the murky details of what constitutes a catch in the NFL, a seemingly simple concept causing great confusion.
“We’re not allowed to talk about officials,” Fox said.
With 21 seconds left in regulation and the Lions having regained the lead at 34-31, Cutler worked another comeback. With two passes to Alshon Jeffery and a pass interference gift from the Lions, the Bears were in field goal range. Robbie Gould evened the score at 34 as time expired, and it gave this wild game a fresh start.
From there, the Bears went conservative on offense, and the Lions made Calvin Johnson look like the Megatron of old. Prater’s chip-shot field goal was the icing on a Honolulu blue cake. Chicago was nearly handed a win, but it leaves Detroit with a loss to dwell over and a bizarre game to ponder during the long bye week.
“You never want to lose, but we believe in each other,” Bears linebacker Sam Acho said. “At the end of the day, we believe in each other. This doesn’t shake us.”
Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.