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Published: Monday, 10/31/2005

Lions notebook: Garcia takes blame for loss

BY JOHN HARRIS
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST
Lions quarterback Jeff Garcia tosses the ball to a teammate as he is tackled by Charles Tillman. Lions quarterback Jeff Garcia tosses the ball to a teammate as he is tackled by Charles Tillman.
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DETROIT - Detroit Lions quarterback Jeff Garcia believes he still has the confidence of his teammates.

"I don't think they can question my effort, what I battled through today," Garcia said. "I don't think in any way that my teammates will doubt what I bring to the field."

Garcia rallied Detroit from a 13-3 halftime deficit against the Chicago Bears, leading the Lions to 10 unanswered points and forcing overtime. But his costly interception led to the game-winning touchdown on Charles Tillman's 22-yard return.

"I don't put this on anybody else but I carry it hard myself," Garcia said. "We are going to regroup and get ourselves together and we are going to continue to fight."

GARCIA NOT 100 PERCENT: Detroit coach Steve Mariucci was so desperate to get Garcia in the lineup a week ago, he may have brought him back too soon.

Garcia, who was sacked twice yesterday and knocked down on several other occasions, appeared to limp during the game. He didn't move around with his usual quickness.

During his second start since suffering a broken fibula in the final preseason game, Garcia and Mariucci discussed whether Garcia should come out. Garcia told him no.

"I said, if you get to a point where you feel that you are not functioning like we need you to be, tell me," Mariucci said. "He's a tough kid. He's playing with a lot of pain like a lot of guys are playing with. I did see him limp every now and then."

CLOSE TO THE VEST: Another Lions loss, another wasted offensive opportunity.

The Lions continue to play conservative on offense, running the football and relying on a short passing game.

Garcia sounded a lot like Joey Harrington, the quarterback he replaced a week ago, in explaining why the Lions again failed to open up their attack and throw the ball downfield.

"It is a combination of things, so I ended up checking it down to the backs," said Garcia, who was 23-of-35 for 197 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.

STRANGE CALL: An unusual play occurred in the third quarter when Garcia, in the grasp of Chicago linebacker Brian Urlacher, appeared to throw the ball behind the line of scrimmage - a lateral - to avoid a sack.

Chicago's Hunter Hillenmeyer ran the ball in for an apparent touchdown, but officials overruled their own call and flagged Garcia for intentional grounding.

Both the Lions and Bears wanted to challenge the call. When the call was finally made in Detroit's favor, Chicago coach Lovie Smith made the official challenge.

"After the discussion with the line judge, in talking about whether it was forwards or backwards, together we determined it was a forward pass," official Bill Carollo told a pool reporter. "At the time we were discussing it Detroit came out onto the field and asked for a challenge. We asked him [Mariucci] to hold his challenge until we actually made the call. Then we went over and explained what we had to Chicago. He [Smith] was upset about the call and still wanted to have a challenge."

THIS AND THAT: Detroit receiver Scottie Vines, making his second consecutive start for the injured Roy Williams, had five catches for a career-high 61 yards. ... Kevin Jones' six-yard touchdown run in the third quarter was the first rushing touchdown Chicago has allowed this season. ... Detroit's 85-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter was the team's longest this season. ... Lions defensive tackle Shaun Rogers and defensive back Dre' Bly both sat out with injuries. ... Detroit offensive tackle Jeff Backus, who is suffering from a high ankle sprain, made his 71st consecutive start.



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