Bears top Lions, 17-14, claim first home victory in almost a year
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The Bears waited almost a year for Sunday: their 17-14 win was their first at Solider Field in 364 days, and marked their first against the Lions since the 2012 season finale.
At least, the team looked like the Bears.
Rookie running back Jordan Howard, who started training camp as the fourth-stringer, ran for 111 yards on 23 carries. Eddie Royal, who didn’t play in a preseason game because of a concussion, caught seven passes for 111 yards.
They won with their backup quarterback, Brian Hoyer, starting — though that could be debated after he completed 28-of-36 passes for 302 yards and two scores.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” coach John Fox said of declaring him the starter over Jay Cutler, whenever he returns from a right thumb sprain. “I’d like to enjoy this win, at least for a few hours.”
Such elation is unchartered territory for this year’s Bears, who left the Browns as the only members of the NFL’s 0-4 club.
“It’s huge for our confidence going into next week and just building that chemistry,” said receiver Eddie Royal, who caught a four-yard touchdown in the first quarter. “You know how good you are, but you really gotta go show it.”
More importantly, the Lions did not.
In the final seconds of the first half, quarterback Matthew Stafford threw an interception to Jacoby Glenn that cost his team at least three points. His second, to Deiondre Hall at the Bears’ 14, seemed to seal the outcome with the Bears up, 17-7, with 4:03 to play.
But Andre Roberts returned a punt for an 85-yard touchdown — inexplicably, after a Bears timeout — with 1:52 to play. A two-point conversion that closed the game to three, but Sam Acho fell on the Lions’ onside kick attempt.
“One win is great,” guard Kyle Long said. “But what’s better than one win is two wins.”
He was hesitant to declare the Bears’ offensive woes over, even though Howard ran for almost double the Bears’ previous single-game rushing high, Jeremy Langford’s 57. The rookie was the Bears’ first triple-digit rusher since last year’s opener.
“In the NFL, things are never really fixed,” Long said. “I think the more your antennae are up and you’re aware of the things the defenses are trying to do, the more prepared you can be in scheming and then in reacting to what they’re doing.”
The Bears will rue their own missed opportunities. They failed on another fourth-and-1 when Joique Bell ran for a loss of two yards. Later in the second quarter, Connor Barth missed a 50-yard field goal.
They made a bold defensive stop on the Lions’ first possession of the second half, though, stuffing two-straight runs from their own 1 to force a Lions field goal.
On the next possession, Hoyer found Royal for a 64-yard catch, setting up tight end Zach Miller’s 6-yard touchdown.
The Bears did more good than bad. It was progress.
“It feels good when you win at home,” Jeffery said. “We’re trying to build from that and continue to win. Right now, we’re 1-0 — as of today.”