Bears a win away from NFC Central title


PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) -- Jim Miller gathered his teammates in the
Silverdome tunnel before the game and told them it was time to

They did exactly that. And quickly.

Miller threw two first-quarter touchdown passes as the Bears rolled to a
24-0 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

"We followed our plan," said Miller, who was 17-of-30 for 252
yards, with two TDs and no interceptions. "On offense, defense and
special teams, we can dominate like that. We're just unhappy that
we made a few mistakes because we could've put more points on the

Chicago (12-3) has already locked up a playoff berth for the
first time since 1994.

But the Bears still need either a win over Jacksonville next
week or a Green Bay loss at the New York Giants to win the NFC
Central for the first time in 11 years and earn a first-round bye.

Where would you rank the Bears' defense among the best defenses in the NFL?
The Bears' D is in the top five, because they play so well against the run.

The Bears are vulnerable against the pass; they don't do a tremendous job of rushing the quarterback without blitzing. So they could have a tough time against teams that like to throw the ball downfield.

But they do a tremendous job stopping the run and scheming opposing offenses. They're also great at creating turnovers.

The Bears play hard on D, they play as a unit and they depend on each other to make plays. And someone always seems to be making a key play for the Bears on D.

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


If Chicago and the Packers (11-4) tie, the Bears would play at
home as a wild card in the first round because of their two losses
to Green Bay.

Rosevelt Colvin, who had one of Chicago's six sacks, said he's
not counting on the Packers losing.

"We've gotten what we wanted -- we're in control," Colvin said.
"We know that if we beat Jacksonville, we clinch the division and
we'll get to play someone in our house. That's what we've wanted,
and we can get it for ourselves."

The Lions (1-14) are playing as if they want the season to end
after winning two weeks ago, ensuring that they wouldn't be the
NFL's first 0-16 team.

They followed last week's 47-14 loss at Pittsburgh with a
lackluster effort Sunday.

Detroit was shut out for the second time at home, the first time
that's happened since 1942, and could join a list of just six teams
to finish 1-15.

"We don't have any playoff hopes, so guys are ready for this
thing to end," Detroit's Todd Lyght said.

Chicago was due for a methodical effort after its list of wild
wins, which have featured fake field goals and victories in two
overtimes after unlikely comebacks.

The Bears got off to a great start after being limited to only
one offensive touchdown in four of the last five games.

Miller threw a 28-yard TD pass to a lunging D'Wayne Bates on the
game's first possession. Then Miller lobbed a 20-yard TD pass to
David Terrell.

"We wanted to get it over quick, and we did," Terrell

Chicago didn't do much offensively the rest of the game, but it
didn't have to.

Paul Edinger's 38-yard field goal gave the Bears a 17-0 lead
with 5:47 left in the half. Walt Harris' 39-yard interception
return padded the lead to 24-0 with 2:12 to go.

Marty Booker caught nine passes for 115 yards and set a
franchise record with 94 receptions this season.

Rookie Anthony Thomas ran 25 times for 76 yards to increase his
total to 1,023 this year.

"The offensive line really wanted to get me over 1,000 yards
this week," Thomas said. "They deserve all the credit for it."

Chicago's defense deserved its share of credit Sunday.

When Ty Detmer wasn't sacked, he was often scrambling away from
the Bears and was forced to throw off-balance passes. Detmer was
31-of-51 for 303 yards, with two interceptions and three fumbles,
one of which was lost.

Detmer made his first start since the third game of the season,
when he threw seven interceptions in a 35-0 loss to St. Louis.
Rookie Mike McMahon was sidelined with a sprained right foot.

Johnnie Morton caught seven passes for 95 yards and tied Herman
Moore's franchise record with his fourth 1,000-yard season.

"We simply didn't have enough offensive firepower," Detroit
coach Marty Mornhinweg said.

After the Lions earned one first down on their first two drives
in the second half, they drove into Chicago territory three
straight times, only to be turned away.

Those possessions ended with Mike Brown's interception in the
end zone off Lamont Warren's halfback pass, Warrick Holdman's
interception at Chicago's 20 and an incomplete pass just past

The Bears ran off the field to cheers from hundreds of their
fans, who came down from the Silverdome's upper deck to celebrate.

Game notes
Bates, who started in Dez White's place, caught four passes
for 107 yards and a TD. ... If Detroit loses to Dallas next week at
home and Carolina loses to New England at home next week, it will
mark the first time two teams have been 1-15.


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