DETROIT (AP) – The Detroit Lions were bailed out after one ill-advised Jeff Garcia play in the fourth quarter, then the Chicago Bears burned them on another in overtime.

Garcia’s across-the-body pass was picked off by Charles Tillman and returned 22 yards for a touchdown with 8:43 left in overtime Sunday, lifting Chicago atop the NFC North with a 19-13 win over Detroit.

The 35-year-old quarterback, making his second start in place of Joey Harrington, rolled right and tried to throw back across the field to Mike Williams. Tillman stepped in front of the throw and raced untouched to the end zone where he was mobbed by teammates.

It was a big win for Chicago (4-3) not only because the Bears broke a first-place tie with Detroit (3-4), but also because they secured a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lions, whom they beat 38-6 in an earlier meeting.

The Bears led 13-3 at halftime, then the Lions had consecutive scoring drives to tie the game with 13:20 left in the game.

Thomas Jones fumbled on the ensuing drive at Detroit’s 28, then the Lions caught a huge break on the next play.

With Brian Urlacher draped on him, Garcia was flagged for intentional grounding when the Bears thought he threw a lateral that linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer picked up and returned for a score. The Bears challenged, but the play stood after review.

Chicago overcame the call and won its third straight, becoming the first NFL team with 650 victories.

Rookie quarterback Kyle Orton was 17-for-31 for a career-high 230 yards with a TD for the Bears. Garcia was 23-of-35 for 197 yards with an interception.

Orton’s 23-yard pass to Muhsin Muhammad and Robbie Gould’s two field goals put Chicago ahead 13-3 at halftime.

On Detroit’s first two possessions, the Lions picked up six first downs in six minutes, and Jason Hanson missed one field goal and made another. Then the Lions had four straight three-and-out drives.

Suddenly, the Lions showed a pulse on offense.

They went 85 yards on 12 plays, capped by Kevin Jones’ 6-yard run to pull to 13-10 with 3:05 left in the third quarter. Chicago hadn’t allowed a a TD in the previous two games, or a rushing score all season.

Hanson’s 30-yard kick tied it at 13 early in the fourth quarter.

The Bears were driving with a chance to go ahead when defensive tackle Shaun Cody caused Jones to fumble and defensive end Kalimba Edwards recovered it. Jones injured his ribs on the play and finished with 72 yards rushing.

Lions tackle Jeff Backus, a first-round pick in 2001, said it was the franchise’s most meaningful game in four-plus seasons and its first significant game in October. Detroit defied the NFL’s trademark parity with a 16-48 record from 2001-2004.

AP-ES-10-30-05 1708EST


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