LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Detroit Lions held their ground in the first thirty minutes of last year's matchup at Soldier Field.
Things were looking good for the Lions after Kevin Smith's 3-yard touchdown run with 26 seconds left in the first half capped a 98-yard drive that tied the score at 21-21.
But then Johnny Knox slammed the door on the Lions' prospects for an upset.
Knox electrified the home crowd by returning the opening kickoff of the second half 102 yards for a touchdown, and the Bears never looked back.
"That was something special for me," Knox said Friday. "We came in at halftime, and [Bears special teams] coach [Dave] Toub said this is going to be a big one for us. Sure enough, when we came out my teammates gave me great blocks and it opened up for me."
Knox, along with Danieal Manning, still is expected to return kickoffs Sunday, but unlike last year, the 2009 fifth-round draft choice is now considered one of the top options on the Bears offense. Initially, Knox was supposed to be inactive Week 1 of his rookie campaign versus Green Bay, but an injury to Devin Aromashodu allowed Knox to play against the Packers. Knox hauled in a 68-yard reception that night, en route to some impressive first-year totals -- 45 catches, 527 yards and five touchdowns.
"Coming into my second year, I'm a lot more confident," Knox said. "I know the system better, and I know how to approach this game. Just all around, I just feel more comfortable out there just playing and not guessing."
A solid preseason led many to predict that Knox could lead the Bears in receptions in the Mike Martz offense. If that happens, it would be a remarkable feat, especially when you consider Knox is only two years removed from playing his college ball at Abilene Christian.
"It means a lot because you want to live up to those expectations, [even though] I have high expectations for myself," Knox said. "But we have a lot of good receivers on this team. Anybody can be that guy throughout the season, each game anybody can get the ball and make big plays."