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Bears Bury Barry and the Lions : NFC: Chicago keeps ball out of Sanders' hands and the result is a 20-10 victory.

November 21, 1994|From Associated Press

CHICAGO — The Chicago Bears played keepaway Sunday. Their offense held the ball and kept Barry Sanders away from the field.

"You've got to treat Barry Sanders like you'd treat (Dan) Marino. You talk about possession time, that's really our offense," Coach Dave Wannstedt said after the Bears dominated the clock and defeated Sanders and the Detroit Lions, 20-10.

"You've got to keep Barry Sanders off the field."

The Bears, using short passes from Steve Walsh and the running of Lewis Tillman, ran twice as many plays--76 to 36--and had the ball for 44:12 to 15:48 for the Lions.

Sanders, coming off a career-best 237-yard effort against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week, was held to 42 yards in only 11 carries, his second-lowest output of the season. The Minnesota Vikings limited him to 16 yards in 12 carries in the second week of the season.

"Their offense did a good job of controlling the clock and it didn't allow us many opportunities to get in and make a difference," Sanders said.

Said Bear receiver Jeff Graham, who caught a 30-yard touchdown pass to give the Bears a 10-point lead early in the fourth quarter, only six plays after a successful onside kick: "We controlled Barry Sanders by not having him on the field."

Steve Walsh, 6-0 as a starter, led three time-consuming scoring drives as the Bears (7-4) matched their victory total of last season. Tillman gained 126 yards in 32 carries for Chicago.

"Any time you can have long drives and come away with a touchdown or at least three points, it puts some pressure on the other team," said Walsh, who completed 25 of 31 passes for 185 yards. "They see time's running out and they have to throw it."

With the score tied at 10-10 at halftime, the Bears used 11:54 of the third quarter on a 20-play, 71-yard drive that stalled at the Lions' six. Kevin Butler then kicked a 23-yard field goal for a 13-10 lead.

Chicago then used some trickery for the second consecutive game--the Bears passed for a touchdown off a fake field goal last week against the Miami Dolphins--as John Mangum fell on Chris Gardocki's onside kick at the Chicago 42. Six plays later, Walsh passed to Graham behind the secondary to put the Bears up, 20-10.

"We've been working on it since the first time we played them, so it was nothing gimmicky," Wannstedt said. "We felt at that point of the game we wanted to get the momentum."

On the ensuing series, penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct and roughing the passer helped the Lions (5-6) move to the Chicago 14. But Jason Hanson missed a 43-yard field-goal attempt.

"Barry Sanders didn't get much of a chance to touch the ball," said Lion Coach Wayne Fontes. "When that happens, they push the defense around. And when they keep it 11 minutes at a time, our chance of winning is very, very slim."

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