Awful second quarter seals Bears fate in first loss,40-32 to Lions

DETROIT—Reggie Bush was worried about how his banged-up left knee would hold up in his return.As it turned out, the Bears had plenty of concerns about the speedy, dual-threat running back they couldn’t slow down.Bush’s 37-yard touchdown run helped Detroit score 27 points in the second quarter and he accounted for 173 yards of offense to help the Lions beat the Bears 40-32 Sunday,and it wasn’t really THAT close.

“I was a little nervous,” Bush said of his knee after missing a game with the injury.

Detroit (3-1) moved into a first-place tie with with the Bears (3-1) in the NFC North.Bush had a season-high 139 yards rushing and a score on 18 carries, mostly up the middle as he took advantage of running lanes created against a line without defensive tackle Henry Melton.

“We felt like we could dominate the line of scrimmage in this game, especially after they lost a key player to injury,” he said.

The Lions scored 24 straight points, including three TDs in a span of 3 minutes, 26 seconds, after Matt Forte’s 53-yard TD run gave the Bears 10-6 lead early in the second quarter.

Detroit led 40-16 early in the fourth quarter and ended up needing that cushion.

Jay Cutler, who had four turnovers, threw a pair of touchdown passes and 2-point conversions in the final 4 minutes to pull the Bears within eight points. Lions receiver Kris Durham recovered the onside kick to seal the win.

“There are no moral victories, but I thought our guys played tough for the last 30 minutes of that game,” Coach Mark Trestman said.

Detroit had a big lead to work with thanks to positive plays it got from each facet of the game.

Micheal Spurlock’s 57-yard punt return set up Matthew Stafford’s go-ahead TD with 6:09 left in the first half, when he recovered his own fumble on a 1-yard sneak. Stafford threw a 2-yard TD to Calvin Johnson on the Lions’ next possession, one play after safety Glover Quin returned Cutler’s second interception for 42 yards.

“This wasn’t a one-man victory,” Stafford said.

Bush, though, just as he did in his Detroit debut in a Week 1 win over Minnesota, was the star of the day.He burst through a huge hole and hurdled safety Major Wright to give the Lions a 30-10 lead, their highest scoring first half in franchise history against THE Bears, showing they didn’t miss Nate Burleson very much. Burleson, the team’s No. 2 receiver, broke his left arm in a one-car accident last Tuesday.Stafford completed 23 of 35 passes for 242 yards with a TD, an interception and a lost fumble.Cutler hurt the Bears opportunity to come back late in the third quarter when an up-for-grabs pass was picked off by safety Louis Delmas, who had two interceptions for the first time in his five-year career.Stafford, though, turned the ball over again to give the Visitors a chance — briefly. His low pass intended for Johnson inside the Bears 10 was kicked up in the air and intercepted by Wright.Three snaps later, Ndamukong Suh sacked Cutler for a second time and forced a fumble that fellow defensive tackle Nick Fairley recovered and returned 4 yards for a score that put Detroit up 37-16 late in the third.Cutler entered the game with a 7-1 record with the Bears against the Lions in large part because he had thrown only one interception.He tripled that total in one afternoon, fumbled for a fourth turnover and was sacked three times after being taken down that many times combined in three games this season.

“Any quarterback, you hit him enough times, I’m sure they’ll get rattled,” Fairley said. “I think we hit him enough times to rattle him, but he didn’t show it.”

Cutler, who was 27 of 47 for 317 yards, rallied with a 14-yard TD pass to Alshon Jeffery with 4 minutes left and a 2-yard conversion pass to the same receiver that pulled Chicago within 16 points.

“I felt good about my decision making,” he said. “I just missed some throws.”

Cutler connected on some more later, but it was too late. He threw a 10-yard TD pass to Earl Bennett with 43 seconds left and found Brandon Marshall for a 2-point conversion that made it 40-32, making a game that was lopsided for much of the game appear to be close.

“Three picks and a fumble, it’s hard to come back from,” Cutler acknowledged.

NOTES—Forte finished with 95 yards rushing on 14 carries…..The Bears host the Saints next Sunday at Noon,while the Lions visit Green Bay.

Key interceptions carry Oklahoma past Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND—Oklahoma finally found a way to beat Notre Dame again. The 14th-ranked Sooners took advantage of three interceptions, two in the first three minutes as they jumped to a 14-0 lead, and Blake Bell passed for two touchdowns to lead the Sooners to a 35-21 victory over the 22nd-ranked Fighting Irish on Saturday. The win ended a seven-game losing streak to Notre Dame and was just the second in 11 meetings for the Sooners against the Irish, including ending an NCAA-record 47-game winning streak in 1957.Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, an Irish Catholic who grew up in Ohio and downplayed the history aspect all week, conceded the victory was especially gratifying.

“Now that it’s happened this way, I’m pleased and I sure am glad for those older Oklahomans that have been through all those games Notre Dame had beaten us. We get some level of satisfaction winning this one,” he said. “Who knows when we’ll play again? So they can live it up and say, ‘We got you’ last until we go again.”

The Sooners (4-0) took control with the two interceptions. Rees didn’t see Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker blitzing and was hit from behind, popping the ball loose, and linebacker Corey Nelson caught it and returned it 24 yards for a TD. On Notre Dame’s next play from scrimmage, Rees’ pass ricocheted off the arm of receiver TJ Jones and linebacker Frank Shannon bobbled it before returning it 17 yards to the Notre Dame 32. The Sooners scored another TD four plays later on an 11-yard run by Damien Williams. Coach Brian Kelly was surprised by the slow start by Notre Dame (3-2).

“You never expect to not pick up the simplest of stunts and have your quarterback get the ball stripped. You never expect not to run the right route when you’re supposed to,” he said. “The turnovers for us were too much to overcome.”

After Notre Dame played a nearly perfect game in beating the Sooners last season, with no turnovers and just one penalty for 5 yards, Oklahoma was the one that made the fewest mistakes Saturday. The Sooners, who managed just 15 yards rushing against the Irish last season, finished with 212 yards rushing. The game was a stark contrast to last season, when the Irish dominated the lines of scrimmage and amassed 215 yards on the ground. The Sooners frequently went wide on both runs and passes to try to offset Notre Dame’s size inside. The Irish managed to rush for a season-high 220 yards, with George Atkinson running for 148 yards on 14 carries. Bell, making his second career start, wasn’t as impressive as he was when he passed for 413 yards and four touchdowns in a 51-20 win over Tulsa, but he was good enough to lead the Sooners over the Irish. He was 22 of 30 passing for 232 yards and two touchdowns.

“He was really sharp. He put the ball where it needed to be, finding the right guys, going through his reads,” Stoops said. “And give credit to the line to give them the opportunity to find those guys, so I thought he played great.”

Bell, threw a 26-yard TD pass to Lacoltan Bester to cap an 88-yard drive after an interception by cornerback Julian Wilson late in the second quarter, said the victory was especially satisfying considering last season’s loss.

“We felt like we left some stuff on the field last year. Obviously we didn’t come up with a win last year so we really wanted this one bad, especially coming on the road,” Bell said

Rees struggled for a second straight game. After three straight games of passing for more than 300 yards, he was 9 of 24 for a season-low 104 yards.

“Obviously, I’m disappointed with how I played, individually. I’ve got to be better. You can’t turn the ball over and expect to win games against good teams like Oklahoma,” Rees said.

Kelly said there was plenty of blame to go around.

“This is about 11 players. We don’t execute on the offensive line in the first fumble, we don’t run the right route. It’s natural for everybody to go after the quarterback, but there’s 11 players out there,” Kelly said.

Kelly didn’t want to talk about what the loss means big picture for the Irish, who entered the season with hopes of making it back to the BCS title game.

Northern blows away Purdue to improve to 4-0. Rankings next?

WEST LAFAYETTE—Jordan Lynch threw for 207 yards and three touchdowns, and Northern Illinois scored on a kickoff return and an interception return to rout Purdue 55-24.It’s the first time a Mid-American Conference team has beaten two Big Ten foes in the same season, and the Huskies (4-0) made it look easy, tying the MAC record for victory margin over a Big Ten school. Toledo beat Minnesota by 31 in 2001.NIU scored on its first four series, forced five turnovers and led 27-10 at the half as Lynch became the 26th player in Football Bowl Subdivision history to top 4,000 yards passing and 2,000 rushing in his career. He was 18 of 25 and had nine carries for 35 yards and a score.Purdue (1-4, 0-1) was so bad, coach Darrell Hazell yanked starting quarterback Rob Henry and inserted true freshman Danny Etling late in the first half.Things weren’t supposed to be this tough for Purdue, especially as it faced one of the nation’s worst defenses.But the Boilermakers were just awful. Their first drive stalled after an offensive pass interference call, two more were stymied with the help of illegal formation and illegal shift penalties and two more ended with interceptions off of poor throws.Northern, meanwhile, took full advantage of the miscues after trailing 7-3 early.Lynch, the Heisman Trophy hopeful, connected on five straight passes, eventually hooking up with Da’Ron Brown on a 15-yard TD pass to give the Huskies a 10-7 lead. They never trailed again.Two series later, Lynch was back at it. He opened a 67-yard TD drive with a 41-yard completion to Juwan Brescacin and capped it with 4-yard TD pass that was ruled incomplete on the field but overturned on a replay review. That made it 20-7.For Purdue, it got even worse.When Shane Mikesky tipped a high pass from Henry into the air, Dechane Durante picked it off and returned it 50 yards to the Purdue 29. Four plays later, Lynch found a wide open Brown for a 17-yard TD pass.Henry was picked off again on the next drive, this time throwing across his body from the right sideline. That was it for the senior quarterback, who was finished 5 of 16 for 130 yards and one TD, and the start of the Etling era, who led Purdue to a field goal just before halftime.But Tommylee Lewis opened the second half with a 99-yard kickoff return for a score and Jimmy Ward picked off Etling and ran it back 62 yards for a score to give Northern Illinois a 41-10 lead early in the third.Purdue never challenged again.NIU has won 11 straight on the road and scored a MAC record 55 points against a Big Ten school, breaking Ball State’s previous mark (41) last year at Indiana.Etling finished 19 of 39 for 241 yards with two TDs and two interceptions.

Illini finish non-conference with blowout win against Miami(O.)

CHAMPAIGN—Nathan Scheelhaase threw for 278 yards and five touchdowns and Illinois used a 29-point second quarter to blow by Miami of Ohio 50-14 on Saturday.The senior quarterback had all five touchdown throws for Illinois (3-1) by halftime. He finished 19 of 24 for 278 yards with one interception for Illinois, the blowout meant the third win of the season came early. A year ago the Illini never saw win No. 3, finishing 2-10 and closing with nine-straight losses.Miami lost its third-straight game to a BCS school after falling to Cincinnati last weekend and Kentucky two weeks ago.Quarterback Austin Boucher finished 7 of 13 for 95 yards and a touchdown. Fellow signal-caller Austin Gearing carried the ball 16 times for 81 yards.Illinois opens the Big Ten season -where the Illini were winless last year – next Saturday at Nebraska. But the Illini never appeared to look past the struggling RedHawks.Scheelhaase moved the offense quickly up field on the opening drive, taking a quick 7-0 lead on a 2-yard pass to tight end Matt LaCosse in the back of the end zone with 11:31 left in the first quarter.But the big second quarter finished Miami. The touchdowns came in waves.First Scheelhaase hit another tight end, Evan Wilson, from 8 yards. The 6-6 senior jumped high in the back of the end zone, pulling the high ball down and just tapping a foot to the turf before falling out of bounds. A two-point conversion pushed the score to 15-0 with 13:39 left in the half.Then, after Illinois recovered an onside kick, Scheelhaase found Josh Ferguson with a screen pass. The tailback scooted 15 yards, running through a would-be tackle by Brison Burris on the way to increasing the lead to 22-0 with 12:06 left in the half.Four minutes later Scheelhaase connected with yet another tight end, hitting Jon Davis on a 4-yard touchdown for a 29-0 lead.And, finally, after taking over near midfield after a RedHawk fumble, Scheelhaase looked long to LaCosse, who this time scored from 45 yards out.Down 36-0 with 5:18 left in the half, Miami was stunned.The fumble, as much as any other play, summed up the afternoon for the RedHawks.Miami was already down 29-0 and badly needed points, but quarterback Boucher lost the snap and the ball bounced behind him. Running back Spencer Treadwell fell on it.Both the ball and momentum belonged to the Illini, and Scheelhaase quickly turned it into the long strike to LaCosse.It was Scheelhaase’s fifth touchdown pass of the half – and fourth to a tight end – breaking his own personal best for touchdown passes in game by one and tying with Jeff George and three other players for second on the all-time Illini list behind Dave Wilson’s six against Ohio State in 1980.With the game in hand, Scheelhaase took a seat on the bench in the third quarter, finishing 19 of 24 for 278 yards with one interception.As he has all season, Scheelhaase spread the ball around. Eleven Illini caught passes Saturday. Ferguson led them with five catches for 77 yards and the touchdown.Ferguson also carried the ball eight times for 71 yards. Donovonn Young led Illinois with 80 rushing yards on 11 carries.For a defense in need of a lift after giving up more than 600 yards in its last outing against Washington, the RedHawks arrived right on time.Miami had 104 yards of offense at the half, more than it had managed in either of its two previous games, and finished with a season-high 250 yards. And the RedHawks nudged into Illini territory over and over.But they trailed 43-0 at one point and never really threatened to score until the game had been all but decided. Most Miami drives died short of the Illinois 40 and, for nearly 43 minutes the Illini pitched a shutout.The RedHawks didn’t get on the board until late in the third quarter, and even that one didn’t come easy.Facing a fourth-and-goal at the Illini 1-yard line, Boucher rolled right and hit receiver Rokeem Williams in the back corner of the end zone. Williams held the ball for an instant before Illinois cornerback Jaylen Dunlap punched the ball free and it hit the ground.The official behind Williams waited a long second before signaling a touchdown. The play was upheld by a review but an Illini crowd enjoying the blowout booed long and loud.RedHawks running back Jamire Westbrook was carted off the field with a hurt right knee in the first half. After lying on the turf for several minutes the sophomore managed to stand and hobble to the cart, where he was sat up and signaled to his teammates with a hand as he was driven away.

GROBBER’S NFL WEEK FOUR PICKS

GROBBER’S NFL WEEK FOUR PICKS
———————————————————-
RAMS over 49ers
Ravens over BILLS
Bengals over BROWNS
TITANS over NY Jets

Colts over JAGUARS
BUCCANEERS over Cardinals
Cowboys ocer CHARGERS
BRONCOS over Eagles
CHIEFS over NY Giants
Seahawks over TEXANS
Redskins over RAIDERS
FALCONS over Patriots
SAINTS over Dolphins
Steelers over VIKINGS  at London
Bears over LIONS

Home teams in all caps.

Pens beat Hawks in shootout again despite two goals by Bickell

PITTSBURGH—James Neal scored in the shootout to give the Penguins a 3-2 preseason win over the Blackhawks after Bryan Bickell and Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang scored two goals apiece in regulation on Monday night.Letang pulled the Penguins within 2-1 at 9:23 of the third with an unassisted breakaway goal and then pulled the Penguins even at 17:44 with a power-play goal via a slapper from the point.Bickell scored a short-handed goal from the slot 1:09 into the second when he batted in the puck out of midair. He added a power-play goal by tipping in Jeremy Morin’s shot from the point at the 14:00 mark of the middle frame.Jeff Zatkoff stopped 30 shots for Pittsburgh and Nikolai Khabibulin made 31 saves for the Hawks.

Bears use 5 takeaways to beat Steelers. Melton hurts knee late

PITTSBURGH—As their defense forced five turnovers and scored twice, the Bears beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 40-23 on Sunday night to remain unbeaten.Major Wright returned an interception 38 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, and Julius Peppers picked up Ben Roethlisberger’s fumble and raced 42 yards for a score in the fourth quarter as the Bears (3-0) held off a late rally.Roethlisberger completed 26 of 41 passes for 406 yards, and threw two touchdowns to Antonio Brown, but the Steelers fell to 0-3 for the first time since 1986 thanks to an avalanche of mistakes.Jay Cutler passed for 159 yards and threw a 17-yard touchdown strike to Earl Bennett with just under six minutes remaining to give the Bears breathing room after the Steelers trimmed a 21-point deficit to four.Henry Melton was carted off late with a knee injury.

Youth comes through as Hawks edge Wings 4-3

DETROIT—Byron Froese scored his second goal 3:25 into the third period and the Blackhawks held on for a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings in a preseason game Sunday.Joakim Nordstrom and Garret Ross also scored for Chicago and Corey Crawford made 30 saves. Tomas Tatar scored twice for Red Wings (2-3-0), Jonathan Ericsson added a goal and Gustav Nyquist had three assists. Jimmy Howard stopped 16 of 20 shots before being replaced by Jared Coreau early in the third period. Coreau made four saves.Tatar opened the scoring 7:29 into the game and Froese answered 1:49 later. Nordstrom’s tally came with 2:54 left in the first.Ross and Froese scored less than a minute apart early in the third.Tatar got his second goal, on the power play, with 7:02 left and Ericsson’s goal came with 41 seconds to go.

Irish get by Spartans in defensive struggle.

SOUTH BEND—Notre Dame took advantage of a trick play that backfired, as well as four pass interference calls and a holding penalty that kept drives alive, to defeat Michigan State for the third straight time.The mistakes led to all of Notre Dame’s points in the 17-13 victory, including two on the game-winning drive after a pass by Michigan State receiver R.J. Shelton led to an interception by safety Matthias Farley, setting up the go-ahead touchdown. MSU coach Mark Dantonio said he couldn’t ever recall so many defensive pass interference calls in one game.

“I’ve been coaching 30-plus years, no. Never,” he said. “I guess that’s where we should stop.”

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said he wasn’t surprised by the calls because of the number of long passes the Irish attempted.

“When you know the quarterback is going to throw it back shoulder, and the defensive back doesn’t know where it is, you have an advantage in that situation,” he said. “You’re going to get some pass interference calls when you put the ball in a good position.”

The costliest mistake, though, likely was the interception thrown by Shelton that shifted momentum Notre Dame’s way after the Spartans were making progress against the Irish. Shelton threw into double coverage and Farley picked it off. The Spartans were called for two pass interference calls on the ensuing drive, allowing Notre Dame to maintain possession. The Irish, who continually passed, even on short running situations, scored moments later when Notre Dame appeared to surprise the Spartans with a call. Cam McDaniel raced into the end zone to take the 17-10 lead with 14:44 left to play. The Irish (3-1) also took advantage of another questionable pass interference in the first half that set up a 2-yard touchdown pass from Tommy Rees to TJ Jones, and a holding penalty that kept alive a drive that led to a 41-yard field goal by Kyle Brindza. The Spartans (3-1) had 10 penalties for 115 yards by the Big Ten officials. The Spartans entered with the nation’s No. 1 defense, allowing 50 yards a game rushing, and 127 passing. Michigan State’s defense had also scored four touchdowns, which is also how many it had allowed. They stopped the Irish on the ground, holding them to 82 yards, and limited Rees to a season-low 142 yards passing. But it wasn’t enough, as the rivalry was decided by a touchdown or less for the ninth time in the past 14 meetings. Rees, who opened the season with three 300-yard passing games, was 14-of-34 passing. Rees said the Irish needed to attempt some long passes because of what the Michigan State defense was giving them. Despite the offensive struggles, the Irish have now won 10 straight at home for the first time since 1999, when Bob Davie was coach. Notre Dame won 19 straight under Lou Holtz 1987-90.

Flat NU beats Maine 35-21

EVANSTON—With Ohio State looming on the schedule, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald had hoped Saturday’s game against Maine would serve as sort of a tune-up for his high-powered offense to start running smoothly.Instead, the offensive inconsistencies lingered and only a pair of defensive scores — interception returns for touchdowns by linebacker Damien Proby and Sean Lowry –prevented a possible upset in as the 18th-ranked Wildcats held on for a 35-21 victory.

“When we’re in position, we have to make plays,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s similar to last week when we couldn’t get out of our own way.”

Following two impressive victories over California and Syracuse, Northwestern (4-0) has had a couple of ho-hum performances against Western Michigan and Maine. Led by quarterback Marcus Wasilewski, Maine (3-1) actually outgained Northwestern in total offense (379 to 373). The Black Bears also were left thinking what might have been if they executed a couple of plays better.

“I thought maybe if we don’t throw two interceptions they run back for touchdowns, we’re still playing,” Maine coach Jack Cosgrove said. “I think we played real hard. I liked the way we finished the football game offensively, because we had some rough goes — we didn’t finish some drives in the first half of the football game.”

Northwestern scored on its first offensive possession as quarterback Kain Colter (5-for-9 for 85 yards with a touchdown and an interception) and Jones hooked up on a 27-yard scoring pass to cap a nine-play, 76-yard drive with 10:18 left in the opening quarter. That was the Wildcats last offensive score until the fourth quarter. Fortunately for Northwestern, the defense came through. Proby had a 49-yard interception return for a touchdown in the final minute of the second quarter to give Northwestern a 14-0 lead. On the play, Wasilewski’s pass was tipped by receiver Derrick Johnson and Proby snatched it out of the air and headed the other way with a convoy of blockers along for the ride. Proby said that was the first pick six of his life. Less than five minutes into the second half, the defense made another huge play. Proby pressured Wasilewski and caused the quarterback to lose control of the pass as he attempted to throw on the run. Lowry scooped the floating pass and returned it 19 yards for the score to make it 21-0. Maine finally got on the board with 3:02 left in the third as Wasilewski found tight end Justin Perillo for an 11-yard scoring pass to make it 21-7. Northwestern, though, dashed hopes of a Maine comeback on the ensuing possession when the offense produced an 8-play, 74-yard scoring drive capped by running back Mike Trumpy’s 7-yard run that made it 28-7 five seconds into the fourth quarter.Maine managed a couple more touchdowns down the stretch wrapped around a 5-yard scoring run by Colter to make the score tighter. But the Black Bears never were a serious threat to win the game. NU has a bye next week, so it has extra time to work out the kinks and prepare for No. 4 Ohio State at home on Oct. 7.