DETROIT – The Bears rallied once Sunday at Ford Field, but they were unable to complete a second comeback with the game on the line in the final seconds.
The Lions escaped with a 20-17 victory when Joshua Bellamy failed to hang onto Matt Barkley's pass over the middle on fourth-and-11 from the Detroit 44 with :13 to play. It appeared that the ball hit Bellamy's right shoulder while his left arm was tangled with cornerback Darius Slay.
The Bears seemingly were in position to at least tie the game when they marched to the Lions' 43 with :58 remaining. But killer holding penalties on back-to-back plays against left tackle Charles Leno Jr. and right guard Ted Larsen wiped out clutch Barkley completions of 27 yards to Cameron Meredith to the 16 and 23 yards to Daniel Braverman to the 30.
"Those are parts of the game, things we have to clean up, get better and learn from hopefully," said coach John Fox. "You don't see those types of things until you look at the tape, but we'll evaluate that, correct it and move forward."
The Bears earlier had turned a 13-3 deficit into a 17-13 lead. Barkley's 31-yard touchdown pass to Meredith down the right sideline made it 13-10 midway through the third quarter. Cre'von LeBlanc then stepped in front of Anquan Boldin along the sideline to intercept Matthew Stafford's pass and return it 24 yards for a TD with 7:07 left in the fourth quarter.
"I think the defensive staff did a good job of scouting some situations and Cre'Von did a good job of studying," Fox said. "He felt the route coming and made a good break and it ended up good for us."
The Lions responded immediately, however, as Stafford capped a seven-play, 76-yard drive with a 7-yard TD run up the middle, giving Detroit a 20-17 lead with 3:17 to go.
"We had a great play by our defense," said defensive end Akiem Hicks. "Cre'Von snagged that ball, took it back to the house. It's in our hands at that point. We have to finish together, and this is not pointing a finger of blame. This is both sides of the ball, special teams, we all need to put it in the pot and finish these games out. That's what makes a difference between the team that's three-and-whatever and guys going to the playoffs."
With the loss, the Bears (3-10) failed to win back-to-back games for the first time since last November and fell to 0-7 on the road for the first time since 1974.
View photos from the game as the Bears take on the Lions at Ford Field in Detroit.
In his third straight start, Barkley completed 20 of 32 passes for 212 yards with one TD, no interceptions and a 92.2 passer rating. Jordan Howard rushed for 86 yards on 21 carries. Meredith had six receptions for 72 yards and tight end Daniel Brown added six catches for 42 yards.
The Bears took a 3-0 lead on Connor Barth's 38-yard field goal on their first possession of the game. The kick was set up by Howard's 28-yard run. The Bears reached the Detroit 10 before back-to-back penalties for a false start and delay of game derailed their drive.
The Lions later scored on three straight possessions to take a 13-3 lead. Matt Prater's 29-yard field goal tied it 3-3 with 4:17 left in the second quarter after Bryce Callahan broke up a third-down pass intended for Golden Tate.
The Lions took a 10-3 lead on Stafford's 16-yard touchdown pass to Boldin with :19 remaining in the half. Boldin was open after Harold Jones-Quartey fell down in coverage. Detroit later widened the margin to 13-3 on Prater's 54-yard field goal midway through the third quarter.
The Lions were in position to extend their lead, but Demontre Hurst intercepted a Stafford pass in the end zone that bounced off Tate early in the fourth quarter. It was the first takeaway by the Bears in four games since a Jones-Quartey interception Nov. 13 in Tampa. LeBlanc followed on Detroit's next possession with his pick six.
"They were big," Fox said of the takeaways. "They kept us in the game, gave us a chance to win the game. They're all relative to points. You had the one in the end zone that took points off the board for them and then of course Cre'Von's interception put points on the board for us. They're real important to wins. Unfortunately, we came up a little short today."