Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley (98) celebrates after making a tackle against Chicago Bears during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, in Chicago. The Lions won 21-19. (AP Photo / Charles Rex Arbogast)
CHICAGO (AP) — When the Detroit Lions needed to put together a scoring drive in the fourth quarter, Reggie Bush carried the load.
He loved every minute of it, too.
Bush carried the ball four times for 29 yards before Matthew Stafford found Calvin Johnson for a 14-yard touchdown pass with 2:22 left in Detroit’s 21-19 victory at the Chicago Bears on Sunday in a key NFC North matchup.
“As a running back we try to pride ourselves on running tough and physical throughout the game,” said Bush, who had 89 of his 105 yards rushing in the second half. “We all dream of that opportunity to run the clock out toward the end of the game.
“It was just one of those drives where we pressured ourselves to get out there, get the hard yards, and I think we did that.”
Stafford threw for 219 yards and three TDs as Detroit (6-3) swept the season series against Chicago (5-4) for the first time since the 2007 season.
When Green Bay lost 27-13 to Philadelphia, the Lions were all alone in first in the division for the first time since the end of Week 5 of the 2005 season, according to STATS.
“We came out with a victory on the road against a really tough team,” Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said. “It was a hard-fought win. Proud of the players, but that’s the only thing that means (anything) today.
“I mean first place, you don’t get any prizes for first place there nine games into the season.”
Brandon Marshall had seven receptions for 139 yards and two touchdowns for Chicago, which managed only 38 yards on the ground. Alshon Jeffery added 114 yards receiving on nine catches, but the Bears were left to lament a handful of missed opportunities.
“We didn’t execute offensively the way we needed to execute, particularly in the running game,” coach Marc Trestman said. “We just didn’t get it done.”
Here are five things to know after Detroit won consecutive games for the first time since the end of September:
BANGED-UP CUTLER: Bears quarterback Jay Cutler threw for 250 yards and a touchdown in his first action since he injured his groin last month. He hurt his left ankle in the second quarter and looked progressively worse as the game wore on.
Josh McCown threw a touchdown pass to Marshall on Chicago’s final drive, and Cutler said he wasn’t sure if he would be able to play next Sunday against Baltimore.
“I just felt really restricted in the pocket in what I was able to do and it wasn’t getting out as quick and some of the throws didn’t have as much on them as I wanted,” Cutler said. “And I knew Josh was ready to go and I just didn’t want to get to a point where I was hurting us more than I was helping us.”
MEGATRON AND MOORE: Johnson finished with six receptions for 83 yards and two touchdowns, including a tiebreaking score in the third quarter.
Johnson’s ninth touchdown grab of the season was the 63rd of his career, breaking a tie with Herman Moore for Detroit’s franchise record. Moore still leads with 670 career receptions for the Lions, but Johnson might take that record down at some point, too.
“To be a part of history for the Lions, that’s a big deal,” Johnson said.
KEY SEQUENCE: The Lions were clinging to a 14-10 lead in the fourth quarter when Chris Conte intercepted an overthrown ball by Stafford and returned it 35 yards to the Detroit 9.
Matt Forte then had a touchdown run negated by a holding penalty on left guard Matt Slauson and an apparent scoring pass to Jeffery was overturned when a replay showed he lost control of the ball when he hit the ground. The Bears had to settle for a 32-yard field goal by Robbie Gould.
“I thought the biggest series of the game was after Conte’s interception when we held them to a field goal,” Schwartz said. “They had a chance to go take the lead. They had a lot of momentum at that point.”
OFFENSIVE LINE ISSUES: Slauson’s penalty on Forte’s run was costly. An offensive line breakdown also hurt Chicago on a potential tying 2-point conversion late in the game.
Forte was thrown down in the backfield by defensive tackle Nick Fairley.
“I’ve just got to make that block,” Bears center Roberto Garza said. “That’s all it comes down to. I’ve got to make that block and get Matt into the end zone and then we’re a tie football game.”
WHAT’S NEXT?: The Lions are at Pittsburgh next Sunday, and then come home for games against Tampa Bay and Green Bay. They begin the stretch with a one-game lead over the Bears and Packers in the bunched NFC North.
“We’re still focused on doing things right, and we’ve got another tough game next week against Pittsburgh,” Bush said. “It’s a good win for us. Obviously, we’ll take it, but we’ve still got to keep our focus.”
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