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Bears pick off Harrington, Lions 38-6

CHICAGO (Sept. 18, 2005) -- The points came from all areas -- offense, defense and special teams -- in rapid procession as the Chicago Bears trampled Joey Harrington and the Detroit Lions.

Chicago's 38-6 victory in the home opener was emphatic.

The Bears intercepted Harrington a career-high five times and battered the Lions along the way.

"We were resilient this week," Bears wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad said.

After a 9-7 loss at Washington in the season opener, the Bears looked more like the playoff contender they have claimed to be since the start of training camp. The 38 points were their most since a 47-17 victory over Tampa Bay in September 1993.

Nate Vasher intercepted Harrington twice and Mike Brown returned one 41 yards for a touchdown. Brian Urlacher added two sacks.

Thomas Jones rushed for 139 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries, and quarterback Kyle Orton was 14 of 21 for 150 yards with no interceptions.

Bobby Wade returned a punt 73 yards for a score in the second quarter and Brown added that interception return in the final minute of the half as Chicago took a 31-6 lead to the locker room.

"We did what we said we were going to do," Urlacher said. "We got in his (Harrington's) face, and we got some pressure on him and got him to throw the ball sometimes when he didn't want to. And we got some takeaways -- what we got to do every week."

And what the Lions weren't able to do.

Detroit's defense, which sacked Brett Favre four times and held Green Bay to its lowest point total in 13 years in last week's 17-3 victory, had trouble breaking through the Bears' line, and Chicago's offense sprang to life after being held to 166 yards against Washington.

Harrington, meanwhile, looked lost. He struggled against the pressure, completing 19 of 37 passes for 196 yards. Detroit managed just 12 yards rushing in the first half -- and 29 in all on 18 carries.

"We made a lot of mistakes, and I compounded it," Harrington said.

Harrington's troubles started on the opening possession with an interception by right tackle Ian Scott. The Bears drove 43 yards for a touchdown, with Jones running it in from the 3.

The Lions immediately responded.

After a 41-yard kickoff return by Eddie Drummond, Harrington found an open Roy Williams, who beat Charles Tillman on the right for a 51-yard touchdown that made it 7-6.

The Bears blocked the extra-point attempt by Remy Hamilton, signed Sept. 16 to the practice squad and activated before the game with Jason Hanson nursing a hamstring injury. That ended Hanson's streak of 209 games, the third longest among active NFL players.

The rout was on from there.

Chicago's Doug Brien kicked a 48-yard field goal on the ensuing drive to increase Chicago's lead to 10-6. It grew to 17-6 early in the second quarter when Wade, inactive last week, returned a punt 73 yards up the left side.

Harrington, who had thrown four interceptions in a game twice, continued to struggle.

Vasher intercepted a fade in the left corner of the end zone intended for Williams, and that led to an 80-yard scoring drive. Orton zipped a 28-yard touchdown pass to Muhammad, who held on despite being sandwiched by cornerback Fernando Bryant and safety Kenoy Kennedy, to make it 24-6 with 1:14 left in the half.

Muhammad was fine, but Bryant left with a shoulder injury.

On the next play from scrimmage, Brown intercepted Harrington as he was hit and ran it in from 41 yards.

Besides Bryant, the Lions lost defensive end James Hall (groin), backup free safety Vernon Fox (left elbow) and tight end Marcus Pollard (concussion), who took a helmet-to-helmet hit from Brown in the fourth quarter.

Brown said he's "prepared" for a fine by the NFL, but wanted to make it clear the collision of helmets was accidental.

"I saw the ball in his hands," Brown said. "I was going for the ball first. It happened so quick out there."

Harrington hopes he never has another game like this. He has extra time to think about it, with the Lions off next week before visiting Tampa Bay.

"It's going to eat at me, but it could be a good thing to kind of clear your head," he said. Game notes

  • Bears defensive end Adewale Ogunleye and backup linebacker Joe Odom left with ankle injuries in the first half. * Vasher, in his second season, has eight interceptions in his career after picking off two on Sunday. * With the temperature at 76 degrees, the Bears wore their road white jerseys. * Kevin Jones led the Lions with 22 yards rushing on eight attempts.
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