Pro football

Bears, Lions, killing each other with kindness

2012-10-21T22:15:00Z 2012-10-23T20:26:06Z Bears, Lions, killing each other with kindnessAl Hamnik al.hamnik@nwi.com, (219) 933-4154 nwitimes.com
October 21, 2012 10:15 pm  • 

Unfortunately for the Lions, they can't just play the fourth quarter against the Bears tonight and then head back to the airport.

But oh, they'd love to.

Coach Jim Schwartz's Detroit team (2-3) has scored 73 points in the final period, second most behind Denver's 79. The victories came in late rallies against St. Louis and Philadelphia.

The first three quarters, uh, we'll just gloss over that because the Lions have scored only 50 points and two touchdowns in that stretch.

Here come the division-leading Bears (4-1) with their third-ranked defense allowing only 291.2 yards.

Now play good together, fellas.

Instead of trash talking and finger pointing, both teams were remarkably complimentary of each other while leading up to this NFC North encounter.

"You have to be efficient in all four quarters and that can make a difference for us if we have the lead," Schwartz warned. "You've got to battle 'em for 60 minutes and not let up.

"Look at their scores. They have good players, a good pass rush, a lot of sacks. There's a lot of talent in this division and they're up on us, so we're trying to take one from 'em."

It's been the Bears doing the taking in this series, which they lead 94-65-5. Their 94 wins are the most against any single opponent.

"Anybody in our division, we're not going to like. They're not gonna like us," Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said. "It's a game we want to win, a game they want to win, because it means a lot to both sides."

Tonight, a national TV audience will be treated to a Lions' team averaging 419 yards on offense against a Bears' defense that has a league-leading 17 takeaways and has returned five interceptions for touchdowns.

Detroit also has a very high laundry bill this season, averaging nearly 10 penalties a game — including 16 last week in Philly.

"We don't practice like that," Schwartz said. "You certainly don't want to get penalties and it's easy not to see where that (overly aggressive) line is."

Cutler almost sounded forgiving when he added: "They're a tough defense. They play hard. They tackle hard. They rush the passer hard. They do everything full speed, so it's a challenge for us."

"Us" being his offensive line.

Schwartz said he's a big fan of Bears running back Matt Forte, averaging 4.7 yards a carry. He admires the pass-catch combo of Cutler and Brandon Marshall. And he believes the only way to neutralize return threat Devin Hester is with low kicks, location and coverage.

"Their defense is ranked in the top 10," Marshall said. "That front seven is amazing, maybe the best in the league. And their secondary, man, they benefit from that pass rush. Those guys are feisty. They're hungry and they want to make their mark in this league."

Being minus-1 in takeaways would suggest they still have a ways to go.

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