Chicago 20, Detroit 17 (OT)

Nov. 24, 2002 at 8:44 PM

CHAMPAIGN, Ill., Nov. 24 (UPI) -- Paul Edinger kicked a 40-yard field goal 6:02 into overtime Sunday as the Chicago Bears rallied from a 10-point deficit and ended a franchise-record, eight-game losing streak with a 20-17 victory over the Detroit Lions.

Detroit won the coin toss in overtime and Coach Marty Mornhinweg elected to kick off and take the wind for a potential field goal. His offense never got on the field.

Battling tendinitis in his right arm, Jim Miller completed a 14-yard pass to Marty Booker on third and 11 from the Chicago 49-yard line to keep the winning drive alive.

After Mornhinweg chose to take a holding penalty that put the Bears in a third-and-18 hole, Miller hooked up with Booker for a 15-yard gain to the Detroit 30. He found Dez White over the middle for a five-yard gain on fourth down and, after three rushes for as many yards by Leon Johnson, Edinger booted the field goal to give Chicago (3-8) its first win since edging Atlanta, 14-13, on Sept. 15.

"I would do that again. Well, knowing the outcome of this game, I wouldn't," Mornhinweg said. "But if it were a similar situation I would do that again. I had a lot of confidence in our defense up to that point.

"That guy is a heckuva field goal kicker. I wanted them to have little or no opportunity to kick a field goal, so I backed them up."

Rookie Joey Harrington completed 21 of 40 passes for 213 yards with one touchdown and an interception as Detroit (3-8) lost its third straight game.

"Nope, it's hindsight and hindsight's 20-20," said Harrington when asked if he questioned the call to start overtime on defense. "You saw the wind out there, everybody saw how that affected the game. It's a decision we made and it's a decision I'm backing 100 percent. It's blind loyalty out there.

"I'm never going to be devastated personally because we can learn something from this. We can take a step forward and improve from this."

Miller replaced Chris Chandler in the third quarter and was 21 of 35 for 250 yards and a touchdown. Chandler was 10 of 16 for 111 yards and a score before leaving with a sprained left ankle.

"I hadn't thrown in two weeks," Miller said. "I had to compose myself. I know my first throw wasn't pretty. The arm gets worse as the game goes along. My arm is not right, I can say that much. But if I had to, I think I would play 60 minutes.

"They blitzed us when we were in empty sets and we made some plays on them. They dropped to cover-two and we picked them apart some more."

The Bears had three prior eight-game losing streaks, but have never lost nine in a row.

"We had talked about it for a long time. I don't think there is a wrong decision there," Chicago Coach Dick Jauron said about Detroit kicking off in overtime. "I think it was really hard to turn the ball down in an overtime situation, but I think he made the right decision. I can tell you we talked about it long and hard on our sideline.

"It really wasn't on our minds. We needed to get a victory. You know they worked so hard and got nothing to show for it. I'm so happy for them."

Miller directed a 12-play, 91-yard drive that pulled the Bears within 17-14 on a 23-yard catch by White with 2:33 left in the fourth quarter. He again hooked up with White for a 33-yard reception on fourth and 10 from the Detroit 45 and three plays later, Edinger kicked a 22-yard field goal as time expired.

Chandler tossed a three-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Robinson 78 seconds into the second quarter after cornerback R.W. McQuarters had a 33-yard interception return to the Detroit 14.

The Lions closed to within 7-3 on a 23-yard field goal by Jason Hanson with 5:46 left in the second quarter.

Detroit scored on consecutive possessions in the third quarter. Harrington hooked up with Germane Crowell for a one-yard touchdown, giving the Lions a 10-7 edge with 5:09 left in the third.

James Stewart, who had 85 yards on 22 carries, scored from 23 yards out to make it 17-7 with 2:38 left. Detroit began the drive on the Bears 35 after a 16-yard punt return by Eddie Drummond.

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