DETROIT - The Lions celebrated the 50th anniversary of their 1957 NFL championship yesterday and, in process, reminded their fans of just how long the team's title drought extends.
The '57 title was the third won by Detroit over six seasons. And there hasn't been one since.
Seven members of the '57 team are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and three of them - linebacker Joe Schmidt, tackle Lou Creekmur, and safety/punter Yale Lary - were among 24 players, wives, widows and staff members on hand for halftime ceremonies yesterday at Ford Field.
The '57 Lions won a Western Division playoff game in San Francisco, rallying from a 27-7 deficit to a 31-27 victory. Detroit then hosted Paul Brown-coached Cleveland at Briggs Stadium a week later in the title game and rolled to a 59-14 win behind four touchdown passes by quarterback Tobin Rote.
ROGERS' BLOCK: Lions nose tackle Shaun Rogers recorded his second blocked field goal of the season, and the 10th of his career, early in yesterday's 37-27 win over the Bears. He tipped a 52-yard attempt by Chicago's Robbie Gould. The loose ball was recovered by Kenoy Kennedy, who returned it 31 yards before a penalty against the Bears tacked on another 15 yards and gave Detroit possession at the Chicago 27.
The Lions' offense didn't do much to capitalize on the field position and settled for a 3-0 lead on a 49-yard field goal by Jason Hanson.
THE RUN-AROUND: It may have been odd strategy, but it worked for the Lions. Chicago entered with the NFL's best run defense while missing three starters in the defensive backfield. So it figured Detroit would try to orchestrate a big day for quarterback Jon Kitna.
Instead, the Lions ran the ball 25 times and attempted just 24 passes. Kitna completed 20 of the 24 attempts for 247 yards and two touchdowns, but the Lions also netted 95 yards on the ground.
"I think everybody is trying to figure out what our plan is on offense," said Kitna, who had a fine 137.3 passer rating, courtesy of zero interceptions. "Well, our plan is to get the ball in the hands of our playmakers. We knew we had to run the ball and I think we proved we're going to be a good running football team.
"Plus, [the Bears'] pass defense is all based on their front four. As long as those front four are healthy you're going to have trouble. We're a pass-first offense, sure, but we're going to try to run the football and have some semblance of balance."
Running backs Tatum Bell and Kevin Jones produced 46 and 38 yards, respectively.
CENTURY MARK: Lions tackle Jeff Backus continues to fight a rib injury, but it didn't stop him from making a 100th consecutive start yesterday. He is the only player taken in the 2001 NFL Draft who has started every game since entering the league.
Backus has the longest current starting streak among NFL offensive linemen, trailing only Jon Runyan (Oilers, Titans and now Eagles) at 163 straight starts and Willie Anderson (Bengals) at 115.
Lions' center Dominic Raiola also was a member of the '01 Draft and has played in all 100 games since entering the league. Yesterday marked his 84th start.
FIRST CHANCE: Garrett Wolfe, the former Northern Illinois star who was Chicago's third-round draft pick, got his first carries of the season on Chicago's go-ahead scoring drive in the first quarter. He ran three times for three yards in his only series.
ODDS'N ENDS: The Lions released cornerback Tony Beckham and signed wide receiver Brandon Middleton from the practice squad Stephen Peterman replaced injured Damien Woody at right guard for Detroit Also, Corey Smith was in the Lions' defensive lineup at end in place of the injured Kalimba Edwards Ernie Sims, Lions linebacker, had his first career interception to end a third-quarter Chicago drive inside the Detroit 10 Sims had a team-high 11 tackles with one sack and a forced fumble. Paris Lenon had nine stops for Detroit The Bears ran 80 plays to the Lions' 55, but Detroit had a 310-303 edge in net yards Lion Shaun McDonald caught his third touchdown pass of the year, equaling his single-season high Detroit's Roy Williams had his touchdown catch streak snapped at five games, dating to last season.
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