Lions, Bears rivalry runs deep

Posted Nov 13, 2011

It's a rivalry that began in 1930 when the Lions were still the Portsmouth Spartans and it hasn't cooled off a bit in more than 80 years.

There are few rivalries in the NFL that compare with the Lions and the Chicago Bears. Since that first meeting, which the Spartans won 7-5, the Midwestern foes have met 163 more times and many of the games have sparked controversy.

The two meetings this season are no exception.

When the Lions and Bears met at Ford Field on Monday, Oct. 10, the deafening crowd noise caused Chicago to commit nine false starts in Detroit's 24-13 victory.

The Bears had their own home-field advantage in Sunday's 37-13 victory against the Lions -- a gusty, swirling wind that made many of Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford's passes flutter like a knuckleball. It also affected the Lions' punts, one of which was returned 82 yards for a touchdown by Devin Hester.

Adding to the rivalry are the Detroit-Chicago connections. Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is a former head coach of the Lions and offensive coordinator Mike Martz held the same position in Detroit.

It was a game between two physical football teams. Chicago takes pride in forcing turnovers and the Bears had six of them Sunday against a Lions team that came into the game with only five turnovers in their previous eight contests.

Lions coach Jim Schwartz responded passionately when asked whether Chicago was more physical than his team.

"I think we stopped the run very well," Schwartz said. "I think the tale of this game is turnovers and returns for touchdowns. It has nothing to do with physical play. I'd match up our guys against their guys any time. That is a tough, physical team. We're a tough, physical team. This game turned out the way it did because of turnovers and the return game."

The two rivals are battling for a playoff berth. They're both 6-3 and trail the unbeaten Green Bay Packers in the NFC North Division.

A Detroit victory Sunday would have put the Lions two games ahead of the Bears. In effect, however, it would have been a three-game lead because Detroit would have owned the tiebreaker by sweeping the season series for the first time since 2007.

"It's tough anytime you lose a division game," Stafford said. "Especially to a team that's right there behind you. We had a chance to put them in the rear view, but we didn't do it. There's a lot of football left in the season."

A lot more than when the teams met in the final game of the 1956 season with first place in the NFL West on the line. Chicago won that game 38-21, but the big story was the blind-side hit that Bears defensive lineman put on Detroit quarterback Bobby Layne. Layne was knocked unconscious. He was removed from the field on a stretcher and didn't return.

The Bears went to the NFL Championship game and spoiled the Lions' chance to become the first team to go from a last-place finish to a division title.