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Columnist
Will Bears take lesson from last year's two losses to Lions?
By Bob LeGere | Daily Herald Columnist

Defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, right, is still upset over the Bears' inability to defeat the lowly Detroit Lions in 2007.

 

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Published: 10/1/2008 12:07 AM

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The surest and the quickest way for the Bears to undo all the good they accomplished with Sunday night's victory over the Eagles is to underestimate the Lions this week in Detroit.

Granted, the 0-3 Lions are well on their way to an eighth straight losing season, including seven with double-digit defeats. But recent history says the Bears will regret taking lightly the perennial NFC North doormats, who swept them last season.

In the first 2007 meeting, the Bears were poised to even their record at 2-2 when they led the Lions 13-3 after three quarters at Ford Field. But 34 fourth-quarter points by the home team sent the Bears home on the short end of a 37-27 score with a 1-3 record.

Defensive end Adewale Ogunleye well remembers that defeat, which he says will prevent him from looking past the Lions.

"I know I won't," he said. "Last year they beat us two times, and that's the kind of thing that we need to remember. You can't look at it like they're 0-3. Last year, we had a lead in the third quarter and they came back and scored like 100 points or something and beat us. So we have a bad taste in our mouths after last season, and hopefully all of us will remember that."

After that loss, the Bears managed to regroup, defeating the Packers in Green Bay and turning in an inspiring performance to defeat the Eagles 19-16 in Philadelphia to get back in the race at 3-4. But just like this year, they faced Detroit the following week, and the Lions came into Soldier Field and won 16-7, leaving the Bears at 3-5 and dead in the water.

The Bears don't have the luxury of savoring the Sunday night prime-time victory or looking beyond the game at hand, but a victory over the Lions could build momentum for a long winning streak. The next week they face a beatable Falcons team in Atlanta, then they come home to host the struggling Vikings and, after an off week, get the Lions again, at home. A 6-2 record at the halfway point is within their grasp.

"For us, it's just about the next game," coach Lovie Smith said. "This team swept us last year. So we know what they're capable of doing. I know what their record says right now, but the season is still young. After one quarter (of the season), what can you really tell about how good a football team anyone really is?"

Players, for the most part, are maintaining a realistic perspective. They knew beating the Eagles was huge, but they don't seem to be satisfied. They're confident but not cocky, having the fresh memory of blowing two winnable games.

"We've played good enough to be 2-2, but a play here and a play there we could very easily be 4-0," defensive end Alex Brown said. "We've just got to keep working. We're sitting in good shape (considering) we haven't played very well. We believe we've got a really good team here, but we've just got to get rid of the mistakes."

Tripping over the Lions would be a mistake the Bears might not be able to overcome.

rlegere@dailyherald.com