DETROIT — Revenge was sweet for the Detroit Lions on Sunday afternoon.
The Lions overcame a pick-six late in the game to rally past the Chicago Bears 20-17 in a battle of NFC North Division rivals at Ford Field. That outcome avenged a 17-14 loss to the Bears back on Oct. 2 at Soldier Field in Chicago.
With its latest triumph in the NFL’s longest running annual series, Detroit also remained in first place in the NFC North with its eighth victory in its last nine games. The Lions now stand 9-4 on the season.
This time the two teams traded possessions through most of the first half. Due to injuries the Bears once again were relegated to third-string quarterback Matt Barkley. He drove them downfield and Chicago scored first when Connor Barth booted a 38-yard field goal for a 3-0 advantage with 1:27 remaining in the opening period.
The Lions last week welcomed back a friendly face when they signed free agent running back Joique Bell, who played for Detroit from 2011 until last February and then with the Bears this season until he was released on Oct. 24. Bell was inserted into the lineup during the first half and played much of the rest of the way.
Midway through the second stanza quarterback Matthew Stafford hit Marvin Jones with a 48-yard bomb, moving the Lions deep into Chicago territory. Matt Prater knotted the score at 3-apiece when he kicked a 29-yard field with 4:17 to go until intermission.
With time running out in the first half, Detroit once again approached the Bears end zone. The Lions took a 10-3 halftime lead when Stafford hit Anquan Boldin with a 16-yard TD strike with :19 showing on the clock.
Prater upped the margin to 13-3 with a 54-yard field goal with 5:35 left in the third quarter. But the Bears came roaring back as Barkley hurled a 31-yard TD aerial to Cameron Meredith to slice the gap to 13-10 with 3:19 remaining in the third period.
That score held up until a Stafford pass was intercepted and returned 24 yards for a touchdown by Cre’Von LeBlanc to put Chicago in control again at 17-13 with 7:07 left to play in the contest.
Stafford then took matters into his own hands when, unable to find an open receiver, he scrambled 7 yards for a touchdown and a 20-17 Lions advantage with 3:17 to go.
With the clock ticking down, two long Bears pass receptions were negated by holding penalties. The drive stalled when Chicago was unable to convert a fourth-down-and-11-yards-to-go situation, establishing the final outcome.
The Lions will test their 9-4 record next Sunday afternoon with a trip to meet the New York Giants.
The Bears, meanwhile, fell to 3-10 on the campaign and will play at home that same day against another NFC North adversary, the Green Bay Packers.