DETROIT — The Bears were cruising along on a nice Sunday drive when all four of their wheels simultaneously came off suddenly and without warning at Ford Field.
After opening the NFC North showdown in Detroit with a punt, the Lions scored on six straight possessions, storming to a 30-10 second-quarter lead en route to a 40-32 win over the Bears.
In falling from the ranks of the undefeated, the Bears (3-1) allowed the Lions (3-1) to follow three straight field goals with three consecutive touchdowns in a 3:26 span late in the first half. The two teams are now tied for first place atop the NFC North, ahead of the idle Packers (1-2).
"Let me start out my saying congratulations to the Lions," said coach Marc Trestman. "They played a very good football game. They won all three phases and they deserved to win the game."
The 27 points were the second most the Bears have ever allowed in the second quarter of a game in their 94-year history, topped only by a 31-point outburst in a 1985 loss at Miami.
Early in Sunday's game, the Bears forced Detroit to settle for field goals and took a 10-6 lead on Matt Forte's 53-yard touchdown run with 13:44 left in the first half.
After that, the Lions poured it on. They closed the gap to 10-9 on David Akers' 41-yard field goal and then put on a clinic, scoring TDs on Matthew Stafford's 1-yard plunge, Stafford's 2-yard pass to Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush's 37-yard run to take a 30-10 lead.
Stafford's TD came after Michael Sprulock returned Adam Podlesh's line drive punt 57 yards to the Chicago 22. Stafford lost the ball when hit by Lance Briggs at the goal line but caught it in mid-air and dove into the end zone.
On the Bears' next play, Jay Cutler tried to beat a blitz and lofted a deep pass down the right sideline to Brandon Marshall. But safety Glover Quin ranged over and intercepted the underthrown ball, returning it 42 yards to the 2. On the next play, Johnson beat Charles Tillman on a fade route in the left corner of the end zone.
Cutler threw three interceptions in Sunday's loss after entering the game with just one pick in nine career starts against the Lions. He also lost a fumble when sacked by Ndamukong Suh that Nick Fairley returned four yards for a TD late in the third quarter.
"I've got to give us a better chance of winning," Cutler said. "Three picks, it's hard to come back from that, and the fumble return. I've got to play better. I felt good about my decision-making. I'm just missing throws."
Before the Lions converted Cutler's fourth turnover of the game into a 37-16 lead, the Bears had closed the gap to 30-16 with Robbie Gould field goals of 28 yards on the final play of the half and 25 yards early in the third quarter.
After Akers' 43-yard field goal widened the margin to 40-16, Cutler threw TD passes of 14 yards to Alshon Jeffery with 4:00 to play and 10 yards to Earl Bennett with :43 to go, following both with two-point conversion passes to Jeffery and Marshall to draw the Bears to within 40-32.
But the Lions recovered Gould's onside kick with :42 remaining to ice the win.
Cutler finished the game completing 27 of 47 passes for 317 yards with two TDs, three interceptions and a 65.6 passer rating while being sacked three times.
Offensively, the Bears were 1-of-13 on third down, not converting until their final play of the game. Defensively, they had no answer for Bush, who rushed for 112 of his game-high 139 yards on 11 carries in the first half.
"I think the biggest thing was just tackling," said defensive end Corey Wootton. "We were in the right place at the right time, but he made some good moves.
"With a guy like him, you've got to rally to the football because he's going to make one person miss. It's just the type of athlete he is, and I didn't feel we were rallying as much as a whole and that's why he had some success, especially in the first half."