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Wind and the Detroit Lions couldn`t stop the Bears from boosting their record to 10-0 Sunday.
With Steve Fuller quarterbacking in place of injured Jim McMahon, the Bears ran over the Lions 24-3 in front of a chilled crowd of 53,467 at Soldier Field. The victory means the Bears can clinch the NFC Central Division title next Sunday if they beat the Cowboys in Dallas.
Running backs Walter Payton and Matt Suhey each gained more than 100 yards. The last time two Bears rushed for more than 100 yards was Nov. 20, 1983, against Tampa Bay. That day, Suhey had a career-high 112 yards and Payton had 106.
McMahon tossed some left-handed passes during warm-ups but saved his sore right shoulder.
The Lions, whose record fell to 5-5, won the toss and elected to kick off. The Bears elected to give the Lions the 21-mile-an-hour wind in the first quarter. But the Lions had the ball for only seven plays, including two fumbles.
As soon as they got the wind in the second quarter, Lions` quarterback Eric Hipple threw an interception to Bears` safety Dave Duerson.
Fuller`s role consisted mainly of handing off, as the Bears ran 21 straight rushing plays before they called a pass.
The Lions came into the game ranked as the worst team in football stopping the rush and did nothing to spoil their reputation.
Fullback Suhey (102 yards for the game) and halfback Payton (107) tore off huge chunks of yardage until they got close to the goal line. Then, even the Refrigerator couldn`t break the Detroit defense.
A 12-yard run by Suhey put the ball at the 4-yard line in the first quarter and brought William Perry into the game.
The Fridge lined up at left halfback and was the lead blocker for Payton on a power play. Payton was stopped at the 2.
The Bears needed seven plays including a holding penalty against the Lions to get into the end zone. Perry played on three of them, including the 1-yard sneak for the score by Fuller.
Perry went in motion as a decoy when Fuller sneaked the final inches. However, it appeared that Fuller fumbled the snap before he crossed the goal line. Detroit coaches Darryl Rogers and Wayne Fontes ran all the way to the goal line to protest.
Officials may have been making up for the previous play, when Fuller appeared to score on a third-down quarterback draw.
The touchdown culminated a 63-yard drive that consumed 8:22 of the quarter.
The ball was slippery in the cold and misty weather. Both sides had trouble holding onto it.
Fuller fumbled a snap on a 39-yard field goal attempt by Kevin Fuller with the wind.
The Bears made it 14-0 with a 77-yard drive, thanks to a penalty against the Lions` Mike Meade for running into punter Maury Buford.
The break gave the Bears a first down at the 46. Payton turned a short pass over the middle into a 33-yard run behind blocking by center Jay Hilgenberg.
Payton followed it with an 11-yard gain on another rollout pass by Fuller.
Fullback Calvin Thomas, playing for the first time in four weeks, carried for 3 yards to set up his own 7-yard touchdown run up the middle on a beautifully executed draw play.
The Bears controlled the ball for 21 minutes, 5 seconds of the first half, leaving the Lions only 8:55. Fullback James Jones gained 39 yards in 10 carries, but he was the extent of the Lions` offense.
Suhey gained 54 yards and Payton 52 in the first half. Payton also caught 3 passes for 47 yards.
The Bears took the ball to start the second half, and the Lions took the wind in order to get back into the game.
Suhey again ran well, but the Bears got into a hole when Buford shanked a 7-yard punt off the side of his foot and gave the ball to the Lions at the Chicago 46.
After one Lion first down, the Bear defense held and the Lions went for a first down on fourth and 2 at the 23. Crowd noise stopped Hipple for a first moments before he threw an incomplete sideline pass intended for Leonard Thompson.
The Bears faced a third down on the ensuing series, and Fuller scrambled out of the pocket. Just as he was about to make it, he lateraled back to wide receiver Willie Gault, but the toss bounced off Gault for a fumble. The Lions recovered at the Bear 33 and broke the shutout.