The Bears-Lions rivalry has developed a bit of an edge.
From 2005-10 the Bears dominated, winning 10 of 12 meetings with Detroit, and 5 of those victories were by 14 points or more.
But last year the series became more competitive — and more than a little chippy. More of the same is expected Monday night at Soldier Field.
Last season the Bears lost 24-13 in Detroit on a Monday night in Week 5. But five weeks later they got payback with a 37-13 victory at home that featured 6 take-aways and an 82-yard punt-return TD from Devin Hester.
The Bears’ defense picked off Matthew Stafford four times in the rematch. Two of the interceptions — by Charles Tillman and Major Wright — were returned for touchdowns.
Some Bears feel that wasn’t enough.
“Especially last year, after that Monday night game, we owe them something,” said tight end Kellen Davis, who had a 9-yard TD catch in the first game. “I’m looking forward to getting out there and mixing it up.
“(They’re) division rivals. There are teams we have to beat. It’s just the way it goes.”
That second 2011 game featured the ejection of Bears cornerback D.J. Moore, who took exception to Stafford’s attempt to fend off his block on 1 of the 4 interceptions. The Lions’ quarterback yanked Moore down by his helmet, and when Moore tried to retaliate he was banished.
“There’s always going to be bad blood,” cornerback Tim Jennings said. “Just the fact that we’re Chicago and they’re Detroit, and they’re in our division, and we know we have to go through one another to get to the championship.
“So there’s always going to be bad blood with them, (just like) Minnesota and Green Bay. It’s nothing different. They’re going to come in here with the same attitude, the same mentality, that they don’t like us. They want to win, and it’s going to be a dogfight until the end.”
Some hard feelings remain and could resurface on national TV in a hostile environment.
“I don’t know about hostile,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said, “no more than it ever has been. But just looking at our division, Chicago isn’t one of Detroit’s favorites. They’re not one of our favorites, and it should be like that in the division.
“And when everybody is playing good ball, you know you have to be ready each play. Having played a couple games on the road, we’re excited about coming back home.”
The Lions’ comeback overtime victory Sunday against the Eagles in Philadelphia kept their season alive. A loss would have dropped them to 1-4.
Now, a Lions victory over the 4-1 Bears would even their record at 3-3 and draw them to within 1 game of the current division leaders. It also would further bunch all four NFC North rivals.
The Packers’ Sunday night victory over the previously undefeated Houston Texans leveled their record at 3-3, and the Vikings’ loss to the Washington Redskins dropped them to 4-2. That tightened the division race while also leaving the Bears alone atop the NFC North.
A Bears victory Monday would give them a 3-game lead over the Lions and leave them in control of the North with everyone else playing catch-up.
“It’s real huge,” Jennings said. “It’s our first division opponent, and it’s Monday night football. We take it as we need this win to stay on top of our division to try to get where we want to go, and that’s that first-round bye when the playoffs come.
“So we need to take care of this.”
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