PONTIAC, Mich. - With his team's season over, Lions quarterback Charlie Batch will have ample time for his battered and bruised ribs to heal.
But he may not rest easily.
After yesterday's 23-20 loss to Chicago in the regular-season finale at the Silverdome, a loss that erased Detroit's playoff hopes, coach Gary Moeller was asked if he would do anything about his team's quarterbacking situation during the offseason.
“You can do one of two things,'' Moeller said. “You either work to improve the guy you have or you go get a new quarterback. I'm not saying that's what I'm going to do, so don't read anything into it. But we have to evaluate everything.''
Both Batch and the Lions have been fairly average during his nearly three years as the starting quarterback. Detroit is 20-18 in games he has started.
More importantly, perhaps, is that Batch's progress has been impeded by his propensity to be injured.
This season, a rib injury had him in and out of the lineup since it first occurred during a practice leading up to a game against New England on Thanksgiving Day.
Yesterday's game, which saw him exit late in the first half after being sacked by Chicago rookie Brian Urlacher, marked the third time in the last five games he was knocked out of action. It was the second time he did not return.
“Chicago ran a stunt that we didn't pick up and he (Urlacher) landed on Charlie in the worst possible way,'' Moeller said. “Charlie was really sore and I didn't think it would have been very smart to expose him to any more hits like that.''
Urlacher's sack was the only one absorbed by Batch, but his replacement, Stoney Case, was sacked four times.
“We started out pretty good,'' said Moeller, referring to an early 10-0 lead, “but then our quarterbacks started getting knocked down, we started having passes tipped and our offense wasn't able to do much.''
Chicago posted a 286-240 edge in total yards.
McNOWN ANSWERS: The Bears also lost their starting quarterback when Shane Matthews broke his right thumb on a play with less than 2:00 left in the first half.
That brought on Cade McNown, whose teammates reportedly demanded he be replaced in the starting lineup after a lackluster performance in a 17-0 loss last week at San Francisco.
McNown threw for one touchdown and completed a couple of key passes in the waning seconds to get Paul Edinger close enough for his game-winning, 54-yard field goal with two seconds left.
The Bears' touchdown drive covered 90 yards with running backs James Allen and Marlon Barnes ripping off the first 63 yards on seven rushes before McNown threw to Marty Booker in the end zone after a fake reverse handoff for a 13-10 Chicago lead.
COSTLY DROP: The Lions led 10-3 and might have put the game away early if not for a dropped pass by veteran Herman Moore.
With the Lions operating from their 47, Batch launched a long pass toward Moore, who was running a fade route along the sideline. Moore had Chicago cornerback Thomas Smith beaten badly and would have scored easily. But he dropped a perfect pass.
“No excuses,'' Moore said. “That was frustrating. It was pretty simple. If we win, we were in. But we didn't make some plays. Then, in the second half, we allowed a team to come back on us when we were in control of the football game. It's tough, very tough to take a loss in this game, especially at home.''
BIG-PLAY MAN: Bears backup cornerback R.W. McQuarters made two huge plays in the fourth quarter. He returned an interception 61 yards for a touchdown and forced a fumble when he made a blindside hit on Lions quarterback Stoney Case, thwarting a Lion drive and setting the Bears up for a game-winning, 54-yard field goal.
“We never thought it was over,'' McQuarters said. “Sure, Detroit had good field position for that last drive, so that made it important that we didn't let them in field goal range. The fumble was the ballgame, but it didn't mean anything until he (Paul Edinger) made the kick and we won the game.''