Tailback Billy Sims, who just ended a six-week holdout, played sparingly but still got 33 yards in 13 carries and scored on a three-yard run to lead the Lions' 17-10 victory over the Chicago Bears today, spoiling the coaching debut of Mike Ditka.
Sims, who missed the entire exhibition season, entered the game with 4:48 remaining in the first quarter and received loud applause.
"When I was in, we stuck to the regular stuff because I don't know a lot of the new plays yet," Sims said. "I was 100 percent physically, but my running and cutting were off."
With Sims carrying four times -- including three yards in a fourth-and-one play from the Bears' 11 -- the Lions drove 44 yards in nine plays for their first touchdown, with Eric Hipple passing five yards to tight end David Hill for the score. Hipple was later replaced by Gary Danielson, but Coach Monte Clark said Hipple would start next week.
The Detroit defense was spectacular at times, especially during a goal-line stand late in the third quarter when it stopped Chicago four times from inside the one.
"We played a just plain lousy game," Ditka said. "When your offense can't score using its best play from the one, you're in real trouble."
Walter Payton carried 14 times from scrimmage, totaling 26 yards. He went into the end zone with a 55-yard pass -- but it was nullified by a holding penalty on Dan Jiggetts.
Players drew loud boos for a pre-game solidarity handshake.