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The Lions were able to move the ball on their opening possession of the match when Matt Stafford got into a rhythm, completing three of his four passes, before launching the ball to the endzone for Lance Moore to make a 20-yard catch for a touchdown.
John Fox's men got on the scoreboard when Jay Cutler moved his offense down the field, although his strike to Martellus Bennett fell incomplete. Robbie Gould kicked a 27-yard field goal to bring his side within four points of the hosts.
The Bears took the lead when Cutler led his side on another lengthy drive downfield and running back Matt Forte pounded the offense to the goalline. Jeremy Langford then took the handoff and ran in for the one-yard touchdown.
Detroit responded and regained their advantage as Stafford was able to avoid the pass-rush after driving his side within eight yards of the endzone, and the quarterback picked out tight end Tim Wright in the corner for the score.
A field goal from Gould brought the Bears to within a point, but the Lions extended their lead in controversial circumstances just before the break.
Stafford drilled the ball to Golden Tate in the endzone, only for him to lose control after breaking the plane. The ball bounced up into the hands of Jonathan Anderson and he made the pick, but the officials overturned the ruling by handing the touchdown to the Lions.
After the break, Cutler tried to bring his side back into the game as he found Marquess Wilson for a big gain down the sideline, but Rashean Mathis killed the drive by intercepting the quarterback in the endzone.
Gould and Matt Prater exchanged field goals in the third quarter to leave the match evenly poised going into the final 15 minutes.
The Bears showed signs of life to get back into the game when they capitalised on a turnover by the Lions and Cutler drilled the ball to Alshon Jeffery in the endzone for an 11-yard score.
An error by Stafford set the visitors up with good field position, and the Bears took the lead as Forte found the endzone with a two-yard run up the middle, while they went for the two-point conversion and extended their lead to four points.
Detroit came back with a field goal through Prater to set up a tense finish, and the Lions did take the lead when Stafford fired the ball to the back of the endzone for Calvin Johnson to make a potential match-winning score.
However, there was to be a twist in the tale as Cutler rallied his side and put them in field-goal range with the aid of penalties. Gould delivered for the Bears to level the scores to send it into overtime.
Both teams struggled to move the ball in overtime before Stafford broke the deadlock when he fired deep for Johnson, who made the grab at the five-yard line. The catch allowed Prater to line up a 27-yard field goal to secure the first win of the season for Jim Caldwell's men.