LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Whether using so many inexperienced players finally caught up with the Chicago Bears or injuries just took a toll, their defense in Sunday's 37-34 win over Detroit was the worst in more than three decades.
The 546 yards allowed was more than in any game since the strike-shortened 1982 season when Mike Ditka's defense apparently observed the strike during a game.
"We had a lot of chances," linebacker Pernell McPhee said. "We didn't finish it, but we've just got to come back to work and tighten up the screws."
With safety Antrel Rolle out and rookie Harold Jones-Quartey playing, and defensive signal-caller Shea McClellin out for several weeks with a knee sprain, the Bears seemed far more beatable than the previous two games when they gave up 170 and 173 passing yards.
The run defense was already hurt by the loss of Ego Ferguson for the year due to a knee injury the day before the game, and Mitch Unrein, signed Sept. 25, had to play key minutes. Losing Jeremiah Ratliff to a neck injury added to the front-line depletion.
Losing McClellin hurt leadership-wise. Jonathan Anderson and LaRoy Reynolds both saw playing time as his replacement.
"They're two smart players and they pick up things fast," linebacker Christian Jones said. "I thought they played pretty well for the most part.
"It wasn't perfect but they played their (rear ends) off and they're flying around and they made some plays (Sunday)."
McClellin's return may take longer than a week.
--When he was in Denver, current Bears head coach John Fox was ripped by some for mismanaging the clock in some games, and it took six games for this problem to come to light in Chicago.
Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase opted to run three straight times to make Detroit burn timeouts Sunday with 2:40 left. When the Bears failed to get a first down they gave Detroit the ball with plenty of time to score a go-ahead touchdown even with no timeouts.
"I think it's pretty standard," Cutler said. "You want to get them to burn all their timeouts. We felt good about the runs, we had a really good first-down run and a third-and-manageable. We were successful running the ball in that situation, so make them burn all the timeouts, make them go the length of the field."
The execution was what was lacking, not the strategy, Fox said. A key block was missed on the third-down running play.
"Ultimately, it's all my call just so we're clear on that," Fox said on the run-pass decision. "I think every play, you either call a run or a pass, kind of like heads or tails. If it goes the other way, it doesn't work, you wish you would've called the other one."
Another instance of this occurred a few minutes later when Fox played it like Bill Belichick in the Super Bowl and let the clock run down when the Bears could have stopped it to save extra time for their offense if the Lions scored. Detroit did score, but Jay Cutler's last-gasp drive got the Bears into field-goal range in 21 seconds.
"It worked out that we have enough time to go down and tie the game, so it really doesn't matter," Fox said. "I look at it the other way. We went like 70 yards in a short amount of time to tie the game."
Fox also missed the opportunity for 10 seconds more on offense because Detroit quarterback Matt Stafford got flagged for intentional grounding, which came with a 10-second runoff. Fox had the option of declining the 10-second runoff, and on this matter he did second-guess himself.
"I think it was 10 seconds that they backed it up and, I guess in hindsight, which we all get to do, we wish we probably would've had 10 more seconds," he said.
--A replay reversal that gave Golden Tate a touchdown catch against the Bears bothered Fox a little more than he cared to admit after the game. On Monday he said he is confused now what exactly possession on a reception is.
"That's a good question," he said. "Yeah, I've been doing this (coaching) for a minute and it's still a little gray for me.
"We'll I'm sure we'll get another video that we'll be able to look at and educate our players and we'll take it from there."
It wasn't the only play to irritate the Bears. Fox said they sought clarification on McPhee's roughing-the-passer penalty that made possible the Lions' go-ahead touchdown in the closing seconds of regulation. The Lions had not been flagged earlier in the game in a similar situation when Cutler was tackled around the ankles to the ground after throwing.
"Like all officiating calls, we have a procedure we do and that one will be turned in and we'll get a chance to see what they think," Fox said.
Also, the Bears want clarification from the league who got flagged for holding on a 56-yard kick return by Marc Mariani because no one was cited by referee Walt Coleman's crew.
"We think we know who it is but we've got that one turned in as well," Fox said.
Notes: Wide receiver Kevin White (knee surgery), on physically unable to perform since the beginning of the season, is eligible to return to practice this week. The Bears have until Nov. 10 to let him practice, and then after that first practice they're allowed 21 days to decide whether to activate him. ... Nose tackle Jeremiah Ratliff (neck) left the Detroit game late and did not return. The loss of Ratliff further depleted a line that was shorthanded after Ego Ferguson was lost for the season earlier in the week with a knee injury. ... Defensive end Jarvis Jenkins (head) left the game with a head injury but passed the concussion protocol and returned.