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THE NFL / 1996

Mitchell, Lions Take Apart the Bears

September 23, 1996|From Associated Press

PONTIAC, Mich. — Scott Mitchell claimed he was always comfortable. This time, he also looked confident.

Mitchell, showing the poise that helped make Detroit's offense the NFL's best a year ago, passed for four touchdowns and ran for another as the Lions defeated the Chicago Bears, 35-16, on Sunday.

"We have players who can make big plays and we just haven't been getting the ball to them," Mitchell said. "I think we did that a lot better today."

The Lions, winning for the ninth consecutive time at home, improved to 2-2, while the Bears dropped to 1-3 for the first time since 1983.

"It just took us a while to get [going]," said Johnnie Morton, who had seven catches for a career-high 174 yards and two touchdowns. "This is the best team effort I've seen. I feel like this takes a lot of pressure off us."

The Bears, who scored only two offensive touchdowns in their first three games, matched that in the second quarter, but did nothing else.

"The difference in the game is that they made more plays than we did," Chicago Coach Dave Wannstedt said. "Now, we have backed ourselves into a corner, and it is too late to make excuses."

Mitchell completed 24 of 34 passes for 336 yards, with one interception as he succeeded in spreading the ball around to all three of his top receivers. Brett Perriman had six catches for two touchdowns, and Herman Moore grabbed seven passes for 74 yards.

"It was a matter of clicking," Perriman said. "We're still not where we need to be. But this has to help us."

Erik Kramer, like Mitchell, also had struggled through the first three games. Kramer's troubles continued, even though he was 23 for 46 for 261 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

Rashaan Salaam, making his 1996 debut in the Bears' backfield, was held to 27 yards in 10 carries. Curtis Conway had eight catches for 126 yards and one touchdown for the Bears.

"We made some improvement this week, so I'm encouraged by that," Kramer said. "We just didn't make enough plays to win the game. We are really struggling with injuries right now, and that makes all of this even harder."

Barry Sanders gained 66 yards in 19 carries for the Lions.

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