Sunday’s contest between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears looked like it could be a big game within the parameters of the NFC North. Could the Lions win and move to 3-1 on the season? Could they sit atop the NFC North for the next week or so? The Lions had to manage without Jason Jones and Nate Burleson, but they did get Reggie Bush back. It turns out that would be pretty important.
The Bears struck first with a field goal. The Lions responded by driving deep into Chicago’s side of the field, but they had to settle for a 23-yard David Akers field goal to make the game tied at three after one quarter. Early in the second the Lions added another short field goal to take the lead, but then the Bears drove down the field with two big runs, the last of which was a 53-yard Matt Forte score.
Detroit then kicked another field goal, and it was feeling like last year when the Lions kept settling for three points when drives would stall out. Fortunately, they did then find the end zone, as Matthew Stafford scored on a ridiculous one-yard dive where he fumbled the ball and caught it in the air as he crossed the goal line. At this point, it felt like fortune was favoring Detroit, and they took their first lead. They then picked off Jay Cutler, and Stafford hit Calvin Johnson for a 2-yard touchdown pass. Suddenly, it was 23-10 in favor of Detroit.
The scoring wasn’t done in the first half, either! Reggie Bush broke off an impressive 37-yard run to make it 30-10. Late in the half, the Lions were driving and seemed primed to perhaps add a field goal before the half ended. Then, Stafford was stripped and the Bears recovered. They quickly moved down the field and got their own field goal, making it 30-13 at the half.
Chicago scored first in the third quarter, making it a two touchdown game. Detroit’s third quarter wasn’t going well, until Ndamukong Suh sacked Cutler, forced a fumble, and watched as Nick Fairley scooped it up for a score. In the middle of the fourth quarter, Akers kicked another field goal, and the Lions took a 40-16 lead. That’s a whopping 24 points. Surely they would not blow that lead. Lions fans could just kick back and wait for the clock to run out.
The Bears then marched down the field and Cutler hit Alshon Jeffery for a 14-yard touchdown. Jeffery then caught a two-point conversion. Chicago tried an onside kick, but the Lions recovered it. Detroit seemed like they were going to burn the clock, or at least bleed it to a point of irrelevance, but then Joique Bell fumbled the ball and Chicago recovered. Cutler then hit Earl Bennett for a 10-yard score, and they converted another two-point conversion. Suddenly, it was 40-32. It was a one score game. However, Detroit managed to avoid completing blowing this game. They recovered the next onside kick, and this time they just had to take a few knees to end the game. The Lions scored another win in the NFC North.
Well, that game ended up closer than it needed to be. Sure, some might consider those late touchdowns to have been in “garbage time” and Detroit definitely was giving them the middle of the field, but they gave too much. However, a win is a win, and the Lions played well. Stafford didn’t do much, and he threw a lot of bad passes. He finished 23-for-35 for 242 yards, one touchdown, and one interception, but the pick was a fluke that bounced off Calvin Johnson’s legs.
This game was all about Bush on offense. He rushed for 139 yards on 18 carries and caught four passes for 34 yards. He juked. He spun. He hit the hole with speed. It was fun to watch. A healthy Bush is huge for this offense. Johnson only had four catches for 44 yards, but Kris Durham(!) and Brandon Pettigrew(!!) both stepped up in the passing game. Pettigrew dropped no passes and fumbled no balls. Perhaps the end of the world is at hand. Choose the form of the destructor.
On defense, the Lions got after Cutler, which isn’t something that has happened as frequently this season. The Lions sacked him three times, Suh got to him twice, and they pressured him quite often. They also intercepted him three times. Louis Delmas had two of those picks. He is the Bush of Detroit’s defense, in terms of importance of their being healthy. The Lions even got a big punt return! I restate my assertion that perhaps the end times are nigh.
This was a big win for Detroit. This was a tossup game, and they won it, and now they are 3-1. This helps them in their quest for a playoff spot, which definitely seems possible. Stafford will need to throw the ball better, and I have concerns about this secondary after watching Chicago’s big, strong receivers lock onto balls even though Detroit’s guys were right on top of them. Also, we need to accept that next week’s game is at Lambeau Field, which is a loss. That’s, next week though. Take the time to savor this win for now.