Lions win again, but Stafford's finger a concern

DETROIT (AP) Matthew Stafford ran for the winning touchdown in another close victory.

The big concern now is whether he'll be able to throw effectively as the Detroit Lions chase a division title.

Stafford's 7-yard scoring run with 3:17 remaining lifted the Lions to a 20-17 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday, but the Detroit quarterback was bothered by a finger issue on his throwing hand. The middle finger on his right hand was taped up and covered by a white glove, and Stafford passed for only 223 yards with two interceptions.

''I just tried to play through it, play as good as I could,'' he said. ''I let those guys know that it may not be pretty coming in there, but those guys made some great plays for me.''

Detroit (9-4) leads the NFC North by two games, but the Lions haven't won a division title since 1993. They play their next two games on the road against the New York Giants and Dallas.

They barely held on in this one. Chicago (3-10) made it across midfield in the final minute before two consecutive holding penalties negated completions that would have put the Bears in field goal range.

''I think our margin for error right now is very minimal,'' Chicago coach John Fox said. ''Effort's not an area we're deficient in.''

The Bears host Green Bay next weekend.

Detroit trailed 17-13 before Stafford led the Lions on a seven-play, 76-yard drive for the winning touchdown, which came on a second-down scramble up the middle. He completed 21 of 35 passes on the day, including a 16-yard touchdown strike to Anquan Boldin with 19 seconds left in the first half.

The Lions came away with the win, but their quarterback's health is in question.

''Any time you're doing something that's out of the norm like that, it's going to affect you, to be honest,'' Detroit coach Jim Caldwell said. ''The great thing about it is he's mentally tough and was able to battle through it.''

Here are a few things we learned from Detroit's eighth victory in nine games:

RECORD

Detroit's season hasn't just been exciting - it's been historic. The Lions are the first team in NFL history with eight comeback wins from fourth-quarter deficits in a season, according to information provided by the team from the Elias Sports Bureau.

Only one of Detroit's games this season has been decided by more than seven points.

PERSEVERING

Although the Lions held on for another close victory, they aren't getting every break in these games. Stafford's pass into the end zone early in the fourth quarter was tipped by a defender, then bounced off receiver Golden Tate and caromed over to defensive back Demontre Hurst, who intercepted the ball.

Stafford later had an interception returned for a touchdown, but he rebounded to lead the Lions on the winning drive.

RETURN

DeAndre Levy is finally back. The Detroit linebacker was active for the first time since Week 1, returning from a knee injury. He had three tackles and an assist.

Levy had an amusing take on Detroit's penchant for playing close games.

''Early on in the year, watching it was giving me a heart attack every week, but now it's kind of like you settle into it,'' he said. ''You kind of know it's going to happen and you kind of expect to win.''

POTENTIAL

Chicago quarterback Matt Barkley did some good things in his third career start. With the Bears down 13-3, he found Cameron Meredith for a 31-yard touchdown late in the third quarter, and he had his team driving at the end until the two holding calls.

STILL BATTLING

Although Chicago's record is ugly, the Bears are still playing hard. Before playing the Lions tough Sunday, they beat San Francisco and had close losses to the Titans and Giants.

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Follow Noah Trister at www.Twitter.com/noahtrister

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