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Sports

Mistakes pile up in Bears' 1st loss

DETROIT — Theo Spight wears a Lions hard hat, a jersey numbered "00" and after every touchdown scored by the home team at Ford Field, he grabs a microphone behind the end zone, and thrusts his deep voice into "Gridiron Heroes," the Lions' fight song.

Spight needs approximately 40 seconds to reach the end of each performance. Yet for a stretch of the second quarter Sunday, it would have been easy to think he somehow got stuck on loop.

Forward down the field! A charging team that will not yield …

Over and over again.

In a span of 11 minutes, 1 second, the Lions dumped 24 consecutive points on the Bears, turning an early 10-6 deficit into a commanding three-score lead. That tsunami carried the Lions to an all-too-easy 40-32 victory.

And if the Bears spent much of their afternoon dizzied by Reggie Bush's open-field moves and Jay Cutler's four turnovers, Spight's repetitive encores had to further the agitation.

"This is the NFL," cornerback Tim Jennings said. "Any time you give a home team that momentum and that confidence, they're going to be tough to beat."

The Bears' bid for a perfect September went off the rails early in the second quarter. After running back Matt Forte provided a 10-6 lead with a 53-yard touchdown dash, the Lions erupted.

There was Bush darting through the middle of the Bears defense, spinning and juking and gliding through openings on his way to 139 rushing yards.

Then came safety Glover Quin veering under an underthrown Cutler deep ball for an interception and returning it 42 yards to the Bears' 2.

And if you had forgotten about the Matthew Stafford-Calvin Johnson combination, that, too, was showcased with a 2-yard touchdown pass on a perfectly executed fade route against Charles Tillman.

Johnson's touchdown came just 22 seconds after Stafford scored on a 1-yard keeper and 3:04 before Bush slithered free for his nifty 37-yard score, blazing past Cornelius Washington, hurdling safety Major Wright, then outrunning Jennings and Tillman to the end zone.

By halftime, the Lions had 260 yards, 17 first downs and 30 points.

"We fit some runs up wrong," linebacker James Anderson said. "We were missing tackles. We can't do that as a defense."

That emphasis the Bears so often place on limiting big plays with the always-dangerous Johnson lurking? It's not so easy when Bush can jet about underneath.

The Lions running back had 136 of his 173 yards from scrimmage by halftime, contributing a half-dozen double-digit gains on 15 first-half touches.

"As you saw, it's going to be a tough day anytime their running back is on," Jennings said. "He's able to create missed tackles. He's a hard back to bring down. He's explosive, he catches balls out of the backfield. He brings the element they need to get this team going."

Cutler, meanwhile, left Ford Field fully aware that his four biggest errors were far too costly. Those turnovers led to 17 Lions points and it was difficult to identify which giveaway was most egregious.

Chalk up the first interception to the quickness and instincts of Louis Delmas, who ripped the ball from Alshon Jeffery on an 11-yard pass over the middle.

But Quin's pick? That, Cutler asserted, was an underthrown back-footed pass on a play in which he thought Brandon Marshall had gained separation up the sideline.

The third interception came on a pass that sailed 6 feet over Jeffery's head.

"Throws I'm accustomed to making and usually make," Cutler said. "I've just got to make them."

And his third-quarter fumble, caused by Ndamukong Suh and returned 4 yards by Nick Fairley for a win-sealing touchdown? That came after Cutler waited so long for something to come open after his initial three-step drop that Suh had time to shed a block by Kyle Long, then loop around the right side of the Bears' line to deliver a jarring hit.

Cutler directed no blame toward his line for that error.

"They think the ball's going to be away pretty quickly," he said.

The Bears hope the sting of Sunday's stumble will fade quickly. In a dejected postgame locker room, several players talked about having a "short memory" while still zeroing in on the flood of miscues that surfaced Sunday.

"We go make corrections," Anderson said, "and we go back to work."

dwiederer@tribune.com

Twitter @danwiederer

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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