Chicago's Walter Payton scored two touchdowns, one on a 75-yard pass from Bob Avellini - who also threw another touchdown pass and scored on a one yard plunge - as the Bears whipped the Detroit Lions, 31-14, in an NFL game today.
Payton who rushed for 137 yards and had 107 yards in receptions, broke the game open with his 75-yard scoring catch in a 17-point Chicago third quarter. Payton wrapped up the victory with an eight-yard run in the final two minutes.
Payton, who last week set a league rushing record with 275 yards against Minnesota, was held to 20 yards on seven carries in the first half. But his running and receiving helped spark the Bears to a second-half comeback from a 7-0 deficit. He set the tone for his big second half by scooting 43 yards on his first carry after intermission.
Avellini's first touchdown pass was a 42-yarder to wide receiver Bo Rather midway through the third quarter. Just three minutes later Payton scored, taking a 27-yard toss from Avellini and sprinting another 48 yards down the right sideline for the touchdown.
Later in the period, Bob Thomas kicked a 29-yard field goal. In the fourth period, Avellini scored on his plunge after Mike Hartenstine recovered a Rick Kane fumble with six minutes left.
Payton's only mistake was a fumble in the final period which Detroit line-backer Ed O'Neil returned 52 yards for a touchdown. The other Lion touchdwon came in the second quarter on a 16-yard pass from Greg Landry to David Hill.
Avellini couldn't solve the ballhawking Lions' secondary in the first half, but it was a different story in the second. Rather's scoring catch climaxed a six-play, 57-yard drive. He caught the ball in the end zone four yards behind cornerback Lem Barney - who had intercepted an Avelline pass to Rather in the first quarter and recovered a Payton fumble in the second.
Payton's scoring catch began with his leaping grab of a 27-yard Avellini toss in front of seemingly stunned Lion safety James Hunter. Payton then outraced Barney the last 48 yards.
An interception by safety Doug Plank of Landry at the Detroit 45 set up Thomas' field goal. Gary Danielson then relieved Landry and missed his first six passes as the Detroit offense collapsed.
Detroit's first touchdown, just 55 seconds before the halftime gun, came 62 yards and 10 plays after safety Dick Jauron recovered a James Scott fumble and returned it 11 yards to the Detroit 38.
Jauron also stopped a Bear's scoring threat in the third quarter by intercepting an Avellini pass at the Chicago four and returning the ball to the 32.
The victory was the first by the Bears against Detroit in the Lions' home stadium since 1971. It raised their season record to 6-5 pulling them within a half game of first-place Minnesota in the NFL Central Division. Detroit fell to 5-6, just about shattering any hopes the Lions had of making the playoffs.
"We were lucky in the first half to stay in the game with all the mistakes we made," said Chicago coach Jack Pardee. "But we hung in there and didn't collapse. In the second half, we just executed better. After they took it to us in the first half we took it to them in the second."
Detroit coach Tommy Hudspeth said, "I feel rather sick about what happened. We had a real good chance in the race."