Chicago (5-9) at Detroit (5-9)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Detroit, MI
Temp: 73° F
  • Game info: 1:00 pm EST Sun Dec 26, 2004
  • TV: FOX
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Detroit Lions will try to bounce back from a heartbreaking loss when they host the Chicago Bears in a matchup of NFC North rivals fighting to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

The Lions and Bears are still alive in the NFC postseason race despite being four games below .500. Both teams, and five others, are one game behind St. Louis, Carolina and New Orleans in the battle of attrition for the conference’s final wild-card spot.

Detroit could have been in much better position had it not suffered a gutwrenching 28-27 home loss to Minnesota last Sunday.

As the clock ticked down in regulation, Joey Harrington drove the Lions 80 yards for an apparent tying touchdown, connecting with Roy Williams on a 1-yard scoring pass with 12 seconds to play.

However, Detroit’s Don Muhlbach made a bad snap on the extra point attempt, resulting in an agonizing one-point defeat for the Lions, who could have jumped into a four-team tie for the final postseason spot with two to play.

Instead, Detroit was left with its seventh loss in eight games after a promising 4-2 start.

“I wasn’t even watching,” Harrington said of the extra-point try. “I was walking back to the bench, and I heard a groan and looked up at the Jumbotron.

“It hurts. We played well enough to win.”

Harrington broke out of a personal slump by completing 25 of 44 passes for a career-high 361 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Williams, who has been bothered by a hip injury, had seven receptions for 104 yards and scored for the first time in almost two months. He’s tied for the rookie lead with seven touchdown catches and has 722 receiving yards.

Detroit running back Kevin Jones was held to 79 yards against Minnesota after running for more than 150 in each of the previous two games.

Jones has come alive over the last six games, running for 711 yards and three touchdowns. The 5-foot-11, 220-pounder out of Virginia Tech needs just 62 yards to become the first Lions rookie to run for 1,000 in a season since Barry Sanders had 1,470 in 1989.

The Lions hope Jones can set the tone for them Sunday against the Bears’ short-handed defense. Chicago placed star linebacker Brian Urlacher on injured reserve Wednesday, signifying the end of his injury-plagued season.

Urlacher pulled his left hamstring Dec. 12 against Jacksonville, forcing him to miss last Sunday’s 24-5 loss to Houston.

“This was a major pull, I guess we should say,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “So it was a matter of that he’s injured, he couldn’t really help us right now.”

Urlacher, who failed to make the Pro Bowl for the first time in his five NFL seasons, missed two games following surgery to relieve internal bleeding in his left calf earlier in the year. He missed his third and fourth games of the season with a pulled right hamstring.

Chicago’s offense is looking to get back on track after failing to score a touchdown in consecutive weeks.

“Just mistakes,” said Bears quarterback Chad Hutchinson, who faced relentless pressure against the Texans and finished 17-of-34 for 168 yards and one interception.

Hutchinson, who has made three straight starts, has no touchdown passes and two interceptions over the last two games. He threw for 213 yards and three TDs in a 24-14 win over Minnesota on Dec. 5.

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