Last time he heard boos. This time, not so much. Rex Grossman led the Bears to a 34-7 thrashing of the Detroit Lions in the home opener Sunday by going 20-for-27 with 289 yards and four touchdowns.
Tribune staff reporter John Mullin breaks down the Bears' home victory over Detroit, but really, the game was over at halftime. Everyone seemed to sense it, but the teams still needed to fill the space between TV commercials. And the Bears did a far better job of it than their NFC North rivals from Detroit.
Lovie Smith. And they did it with a level of dominance that should put to rest any suspicion that their 11-5 mark in 2005 was a fluke. They have outscored their first two foes 60-7.
"We were dictating the way they were playing," said defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, who had one of the Bears' six sacks and shared another with Mark Anderson. "The way we got off the ball today, the sack early by Tank (Johnson, which forced a fumble to set up the Bears' first touchdown) set the tone, and they were scared from that point on."
Two turnovers, 10 points. Two red-zone trips, one touchdown, one field goal. Just the way the coaches had drawn it up.
After a Brad Maynard punt and a Detroit holding penalty, the Lions started their second possession at their 9, and catastrophe soon followed for them. The Bears' defense threw a surprise at quarterback Jon Kitna on Detroit's third play, dropping defensive end Alex Brown into short zone coverage and blitzing Kitna. Tank Johnson hit Kitna and knocked the ball loose for Brian Urlacher to recover on the Detroit 3. Rex Grossman needed just two plays to find tight end John Gilmore waiting alone at the back of the end zone.
The Bears allowed the Lions only two plays before striking again. After running back Kevin Jones ripped off a 29-yard run to the Bears' 41, Alex Brown hit him and forced the ball loose again, recovering it at the Bears' 25. Grossman hit Desmond Clark for a 19-yard gain and a pass-interference penalty on Dré Bly gave the Bears 16 more yards on a drive that moved to the Detroit 14 for a field goal by Robbie Gould.
The offensive line dealt with mammoth defensive tackle Shaun Rogers by having tackles Fred Miller and John Tait block down and seal him off, leaving guards Ruben Brown and Roberto Garza free to block for Thomas Jones on the side opposite Rogers. Jones responded by ripping off runs of 13, 9 and 10 yards in the quarter as the Bears established some control of the line of scrimmage.
"I would've been happy for him, but I would have been sick to my stomach."
Bears tight end John Gilmore, laughing at the thought of tackle John St. Clair, in as an eligible third tight end and the primary receiver, catching the first TD pass.
Kitna was 11-for-12 in the half, and it meant
Turnovers forced by the defense, penalties and assorted offensive maladies made his 100.7 passer rating one of the most meaningless stats of this or any other half.
Meanwhile, Grossman was getting the ball in the direction of his playmakers, and they were finishing the deal. Grossman went to Bernard Berrian on three of the first five plays on the Bears' fourth possession, beginning with a deep incompletion on which Berrian appeared to slow up prematurely. Not the second time. From the Detroit 41, Grossman heaved the ball toward Berrian streaking behind two defenders, and Berrian stretched out and made a diving grab, cradling the ball as he tumbled into the end zone for his second touchdown over 40 yards in as many weeks.
Not to be outdone, tight end Desmond Clark continued his red-hot start with four catches and 73 yards for the half and turned in his own film clip for the highlight reel. From the Detroit 31, Clark fought off pass interference by cornerback Fernando Bryant and then outfought strong safety Kenoy Kennedy to complete the scoring play. The 31-yarder gave the Bears a 24-0 lead for the half, and Bears teams under Lovie Smith do not give games away in the second half.
"They put a little corner on him, and that's like Spud Webb guarding Shaq."
Bears 34, Lions 7
Grossman's big day leads Bears' romp over Lions
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