DETROIT (AP) — Matthew Stafford’s second touchdown pass put Detroit ahead in the third and Jahvid Best’s 88-yard run later in the quarter gave the Lions a double-digit lead in a 24-13 win over the Chicago Bears on Monday night.
The Lions (5-0) are undefeated through five games for the first time since 1956 — the year before their last NFL title.
The defending NFC North champion Bears (2-3) are off to their worst start since 2007. They are three games behind Detroit and defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay (5-0) in the division.
Detroit and its fans were clearly fired up for the franchise’s first Monday night game in a decade.
The Lions had their largest crowd at Ford Field and the 67,861 fans created enough noise to rattle the Bears into nine false starts.
Chicago quieted the fans briefly by taking a 10-7 lead just before halftime and seemed to make them a little nervous by pulling within eight points with 4:07 left to play.
Best, though, made them roar again with a 43-yard run that was capped by a horse-collar penalty that gave Detroit the ball at the Chicago 22. He ran for another first down that took time off the clock and set up Jason Hanson’s 31-yard kick with 1:56 to go to seal the victory.
The Lions made big plays on offense and a lot of solid and subtle ones on defense, holding Chicago to just three points in the second half.
Stafford lofted a pass to Calvin Johnson for a 73-yard score — extending his NFL-record start with nine TD catches in five games — early in the second quarter.
Best’s 88-yard run was the second-longest in franchise history, trailing only Bob Hoernschemeyer’s 96-yard run against the New York Yankees on Nov. 23, 1950. It was 3 yards longer than Barry Sanders’ longest gain on the ground.
Stafford was 19 of 26 for 219 yards with two TDs, including the go-ahead score to Brandon Pettigrew from 18 yards with 9:55 to go in the third quarter. Best more than doubled his previous career-high with 163 yards rushing on 12 carries. Johnson finished with five catches for 130 yards and for the first time this season, he didn’t score twice, but he made an impact as usual against a team that tried to slow him down with double coverage.
Jay Cutler was 28 of 38 for 249 yards with a TD and no interceptions. He was sacked three times and was hurried and hit many more times. Matt Forte ran for 116 yards on 22 carries.
Cutler’s 9-yard pass to Kellen Davis gave the Bears a three-point lead late in the first half, but it wasn’t large enough to hold off the NFL’s first team to come back from 20-point deficits in consecutive weeks.
The Lions didn’t need to rally this time, taking the lead and making enough plays on both sides of the ball to keep it much to the delight of the sports-crazed fans in their state that are buzzing about them, the Tigers along with Michigan and Michigan State’s ranked football teams.