Lions Survive Week 6 Shoot Out with Bears

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The Detroit Lions (1-5) secured their first victory of the season beating the Chicago Bears (2-4) at Ford Field 37-34 (OT). The Detroit Lions have beaten the Chicago Bears five times in a row during the 2013-2015 seasons. The Lions won ugly despite three turnovers allowed in the second half which helped the Bears get three short fields for 17 points.

The Good

Detroit played great redzone defense in the game holding the Bears to two field goals and an interception despite long drives by Chicago in the first half and early 3rd Quarter. Rashean Mathis grabbed the interception in the end zone on a jump ball and Josh Bynes, Tahir Whitehead and Josh Wilson had big pass break ups to hold the Bears to two field goals.

Detroit played very good run defense holding the Bears to 91 yards and 31 carries (2.9 YPC). Forte was bottled up most of the day but Detroit did allow one rush TD to Jeremy Langford in the first half.

Stafford played a very good game despite one terrible interception on a desperation flip on 3rd down up 24-23 in the 4th Quarter. Stafford threw for 405 yards, 4 TDs and had 9.6 YPA. The protection for Detroit was better than most weeks this season but there was some pressure on Stafford. Stafford found his deep ball and had plays over 20 yards in the game.

Calvin Johnson had a monster game with 166 yards and 1 TD. Calvin made a great play on the deep ball caught over the Bears rookie safety in over time.

Lance Moore had a huge game from the slot with 106 yards and a TD on the first drive. It was nice to see another receiver besides Calvin Johnson or Golden Tate step up. Detroit had 3 TDs in the first half and finally finished drives. Golden Tate had a TD on a controversial call but it appeared he caught the ball before the end zone and was not going to the ground. He fumbled after he crossed the goal line.

The Detroit run game was solid with 4.8 YPC on the day. Detroit had a fake punt for 30 yards which aided that rating. Detroit had 4.0 YPC without the punt return and Stafford had some uncharacteristic crucial scrambles for a first down to extend drives.

The Bad

The Lions pass rush was awful. Cutler had a clean pocket most of the day and moved well to avoid pressure. Detroit was missing their starting defensive tackles (Ngata/Walker) and left end Jason Jones was injured early in the game too (neck). Detroit’s backups and Ziggy Ansah were stout against the run but couldn’t generate pressure. The Lions didn’t blitz often during the game and relied on a front four rush. The pressure failed in this game.

The Lions coverage by the secondary was even worse as Alshon Jeffrey had a huge day notching 8 catches for 147 yards and 1 TD on 11 targets. There were some other pass interference penalties as well including the last Bears drive in regulation that set up an easy field goal. Detroit has major coverage problems without a pass rush.

Detroit had a 3 point lead with 30 seconds left but allowed the Bears to easily go 69 yards for a chip shot field goal. Martellus Bennett found some holes for 59 yards. The saving grace for Detroit was the Lions’ red zone coverage in the first half and the interception by Rashean Mathis in the redzone on a bad throw by Cutler.

The Lions three turnovers were terrible. TJ Jones muffed a punt return. Corey Fuller wasn’t paying attention and got blocked into another punted ball. Two special team turnovers is a horrendous day for any team. Up 24-23 in the 4th Quarter, Matt Stafford tried to flip a ball and it cost the Lions big time. The Bears converted the short field for a 31-24 lead after a TD to Jeffrey and 2 point conversion. You cannot force throws like that in the NFL. Detroit almost paid the price.

Ameer Abdullah fumbled again after a blown block by Tim Wright. Luckily, Abdullah recovered his own fumble but was injured on the recovery (stinger). Abdullah has fumbled 4 times this season in only 6 games. He must fix his ball security or his big play ability will be limited with him on the bench.

Finally, down 31-23 Detroit had the fake punt and got into the Bears red zone. Caldwell decided to kick the field goal on a 4th and 4 and give the ball back to the Bears down 4. This was a terrible mistake by the Lions coach even though it worked in the end. The Bears were stopped on 3 straight runs and the Lions were able to take the lead on Calvin Johnson 4 yard TD. If the Bears got one first down, the game would have been over and Caldwell should have been fired on the spot. Adam Gase and John Fox being cautious for Chicago saved the Lions. Detroit should get some credit for good run defense and saving their time outs though.

The late come-back drive in regulation by Stafford was highlighted with great plays by Theo Riddick, Lance Moore and Calvin Johnson. The drive almost failed due to an idiotic intentional grounding by Stafford. A Pernell McPhee low hit on Stafford saved the Lions victory along with red zone defense and the emergence of the Lions deep ball.

What’s Next

The Lions host the Minnesota Vikings (3-2) in Week 7 at Ford Field at 1 PM (ET). The Vikings beat the Lions 26-16 in Minnesota in Week 2 on a huge day from Adrian Peterson and another 3 turnover day by Detroit. Stafford was pressured a high amount in that game. The Lions will need to continue their strong run defense and get Haloti Ngata and James Ihedigbo back to face Peterson. Detroit must protect Stafford much better than Week 2. Detroit desperately needs to fix their turnover issue. Eighteen turnovers in 6 games is a major problem. Detroit is 1-5 but there are a lot of 2-4 and 2-3 teams in the NFC. Detroit must beat Minnesota for any shot to get back into the wild card race. Detroit must play a lot better than they did in Week 6 (despite the victory) to make that happen.