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Lions close again, but still can't notch win

12/2/2001

CHICAGO (AP) -- In a season of close calls, it was a predictable
ending for the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions.

Leon Johnson scored on a 1-yard run with 5:34 left and the Bears
beat winless Detroit 13-10 Sunday when the Lions' Jason Hanson
missed a 40-yard field goal with 21 seconds to go.

"There are no bad teams in the NFL. The games go down to the
last four minutes and whoever makes the plays wins. They had an
opportunity to tie it up and couldn't do it," Chicago's Mike Brown
said.

"We've been in situations this year where anything can happen.
We knew that. We're 9-2 and we'll take it," Brown said.

Earlier this season, the Bears got two game-winning overtime
interceptions from Brown on tipped passes and won another when
Tampa Bay's Martin Gramatica hit the upright with a last-second
field goal attempt.

What was wrong with the Bears' offense today?
The Bears' offense hasn't been great in recent weeks. They haven't had a dominant rushing game and the receivers haven't been making plays -- they don't have that go-to guy down the field.

QB Jim Miller hasn't been making plays, either. Opponents are getting more pressure on Miller because running back Anthony Thomas has been injured and they don't have to be as concerned about a running threat.

It will help when the A-Train is healthy and back in the lineup (he'll probably play next week).

ESPN.com's Vinny Cerrato was director of player personnel for the Redskins and 49ers.


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Some will say the Bears are more lucky than good.

"I don't care," coach Dick Jauron said. "We'll take that lucky
label as long as it sticks to us."

The Lions, meanwhile, have lost their last eight games by a total
of 35 points. Detroit's latest defeat came when the normally
reliable Hanson, who had made 13 of 16 field goals entering the
game, missed three times.

"They're nowhere near an 0-11 team. A lot of those games they
could have won," Bears linebacker Roosevelt Colvin said.

Chicago (9-2) clinched its first winning season since 1995 by
rallying against the Lions, who lost starting quarterback Charlie
Batch to a separated shoulder for the rest of the season when he
was sacked by a blitzing Brown.

Right after a video replay upheld an on-field ruling that
Chicago's R.W. McQuarters did not make an interception before Mike
McMahon's pass hit the ground, Hanson lined up to try to tie the
game.

But after a high snap to new holder Leo Araguz, Hanson's kick
into the wind went wide right and the Bears had won yet another
tough game. Araguz was holding in place of the injured John Jett.

"Leo got it down and he snagged it perfectly and that's my
fault for looking up," Hanson said. "That was some stupid
kicking."

Detroit, matching its 0-11 record for the entire 1942 season,
had 10 penalties, none more costly than an offside call on James
Hall as the Bears lined up to punt on a fourth-and-6 in the fourth
quarter.

With the extra five yards, the Bears went for the first down on
fourth-and-1 and Johnson got it with a 6-yard carry to the Lions
30.

Five plays after a key third-down pass from Jim Miller to Marty
Booker kept the drive alive, Johnson scored from the 1 and the
Bears had their first lead at 13-10.

Two minutes after Johnson's score, Brown hit McMahon, forced the
ball loose and recovered the fumble at the 29 with 3:45 left.

But Paul Edinger missed a 39-yard field goal and the Lions had
one more chance with 2:18 left.

The scrambling McMahon hit a key 21-yard pass to Larry Foster as
Detroit reached Chicago's 21, but then threw three straight
incompletions.

Batch, who completed 18 of 28 passes, was hurt in the third
quarter when Brown hit him and almost caught him for a safety.
Batch got up slowly and then fumbled the snap on the next play
before going to the locker room.

"On that play I was supposed to be protected on my back side
and I guess it broke down a little and they got through. My
shoulder was driven in the ground," Batch said.

The Bears got the ball on the 40 after a punt and moved to the
Lions 7, but rookie David Terrell, who'd dropped an earlier TD
pass, again failed to catch the ball, this time in the back of the
end zone. The Bears settled for Edinger's 26-yard field goal to
take a 10-6 lead early in the fourth.

The Lions, despite seven penalties and field goal misses from 45
and 48 yards by Hanson, were able to take a 7-3 halftime lead with
a tough defense and a 10-play, 95-yard drive capped by James
Stewart's 3-yard run.

Chicago's only points came on Edinger's line-drive 46-yard field
goal in the second quarter. Hanson's 36-yard field goal gave the
Lions a 10-3 lead midway through the third quarter.

Game notes
Bears DE Phillip Daniels had to leave the game twice, once
after teammate Ted Washington poked him in the eyes and again when
he jammed his shoulder in a collision with teammate Keith Traylor.
... Batch said he initially was told he'd be out four to six weeks but
said he'll know more Monday after he's re-examined. ... Hall was
called for three of the Lions' penalties.