Stafford runs for go-ahead TD in Lions' 20-17 win over Bears
By LARRY LAGE
DETROIT (AP) Matthew Stafford got a shotgun snap, dropped back, slid left, rolled right and ran up the middle through three defenders with a shot to stop him.
Stafford's go-ahead, 7-yard touchdown with 3:17 left made up for his two interceptions in the fourth quarter, one that was returned for a score, and helped the Detroit Lions beat the Chicago Bears 20-17 Sunday.
The Lions have become the first team in NFL history to have eight comeback wins from fourth-quarter deficits in a season, according to information provided by the team from the Elias Sports Bureau.
"Finding ways to win is what we do," Stafford said.
Stafford usually does it with his right arm.
With the middle finger on his right hand taped up and covered by a white glove, Stafford struggled to throw at times. When it was time to run and score, he wasn't going to stop himself short of the end zone.
"It's fourth quarter, go time, you've got to make a play," Stafford said. "I surely wasn't going to slide on the 2."
The NFC North-leading Lions (9-4) have won five straight and eight of nine, moving them a step closer to winning a division title for the first time in 23 years.
"Our goals are much bigger than winning this game," receiver Anquan Boldin said.
Matt Barkley completed two passes that put the Bears in a position to at least attempt a tying field goal in the final minute, but both were negated by flags, before turning the ball over on downs from the Detroit 44.
"You can't really recover from two holding penalties back to back," said Bears guard Ted Larsen, who was called for holding, as was left tackle Charles Leno.
The Bears' opportunity of pulling off an upset were also hurt by three penalties for pass interference for a total of 74 yards, helping Detroit score both of its TDs.
Chicago (3-10) has lost four of five, playing a lot of young players in place of banged-up veterans.
"Eventually, this is going to help us," Bears coach John Fox said. "And this experience will help those individual players."
Barkley , in the first road start of his career, perfectly led Cameron Meredith on a 31-yard TD to pull the Bears within three late in the third quarter. He completed 20 of 32 passes for 212 yards.
"There's no issue of effort or wanting to win," Barkley said. "You can really see the fire and the drive is there."
Stafford was picked off twice after he threw only one interception the previous eight games. Demontre Hurst intercepted Stafford's pass in Chicago's end zone after it ricocheted off teammate Bryce Callahan and receiver Golden Tate early in the fourth quarter. Cre'Von LeBlanc returned an interception 24 yards midway through the fourth to put Chicago up 17-13.
Stafford finished 21 of 35 for 223 yards with a TD. Stafford said he hurt his finger, which he expected to be X-rayed, in the first quarter when his hand collided with linebacker Leonard Floyd.
"I don't think he's going to let a finger stop him," Boldin said.
Detroit has matched its longest winning streak since starting 5-0 in 2011, and its best nine-game stretch since winning eight of the last nine games in 1995. The Lions have given up 20 or fewer points in seven straight games in one season for the first time since 1961.
Stafford threw a tiebreaking, 16-yard TD pass to Boldin with 19 seconds left in the first half. It was the 1,063 reception of Boldin's career, moving him past Andre Johnson for 10th place on the NFL's all-time list. The 14-year veteran has helped Detroit overcome the retirement of star receiver Calvin Johnson.
Bears: Receivers Eddie Royal (toe) and Marquess Wilson (groin) were inactive due to injuries, taking two more players away from a depleted team. Cornerback Tracy Porter (illness) and defensive lineman Eddie Goldman (ankle) left the game with ailments.
Lions: Running back Theo Riddick was inactive with a wrist injury and was replaced in the starting lineup by rookie Dwayne Washington, who had season highs with 16 carries and 64 yards rushing. Linebacker DeAndre Levy was active for the first time since Week 1, returning from a knee injury. Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah left the game in the second quarter with an injured right shoulder, but returned to play in the second half.
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Updated December 11, 2016