Monday, October 10, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Lions 24, Bears 13
By Kevin Seifert
DETROIT -- A few thoughts on Monday night's Black and Blue matchup at Ford Field, where the Detroit Lions beat the Chicago Bears 24-13:
What it means: The Lions improved to 5-0 for the first time since 1956 and kept pace with the 5-0 Green Bay Packers in the NFC North. In the process, the Lions buried the Bears, who are 2-3 and find themselves three games behind two of their three division competitors. The Bears' season isn't over, but they have a steep hill to climb.
Return to MNF: Detroit fans getting their first taste of "Monday Night Football" in 10 years had a big effect in this game. Pregame introductions by Michael Buffer and a guitar-solo national anthem had a Ford Field-record crowd of 67,861 in a frenzy at kickoff. The Bears' lack of discipline played a role, but in the end the Bears unofficially committed a stunning nine false start penalties, including six in the first half. Overall, the Bears committed 14 penalties.
Big plays: The Lions' offense moved in fits and starts against the Bears' Cover 2 defense, but it got two long and record-breaking plays from its two most explosive players to account for the bulk of its scoring. Receiver Calvin Johnson's 73-yard touchdown reception gave him nine in the first five games of the season, an NFL record. And tailback Jahvid Best's 88-yard run for a score was the second longest in Lions history. Best's 43-yard run in the fourth quarter, meanwhile, put the Lions in position to seal the game while clinging to an 8-point lead. He finished with 163 yards on 12 carries.
CutlerWatch: I actually felt a pang of sympathy for Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who was under duress even as offensive coordinator Mike Martz called a steady diet of running plays. Tailback Matt Forte carried 22 times for 116 yards, but Cutler still found himself pulling away from Lions defenders, twisting out of the pocket and, on two occasions, shoveling the ball left-handed to a receiver. Midway through the four quarter, the Bears benched right tackle Frank Omiyale for the second consecutive game for his poor pass protection. I thought Cutler played a really nice game considering what he was dealing with. He was sacked three times but completed 28 of 38 passes for 249 yards and a 99.6 passer rating.
LovieWatch: It didn't figure in the outcome of the game, but I don't think Bears coach Lovie Smith had his finest moment late in the first quarter. He turned down a near-automatic field goal of 44 yards by place-kicker Robbie Gould and went for a first down on fourth-and-1 at the Lions' 26-yard line. Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh crushed Omiyale to stop Forte for no gain, and Smith compounded the failure by challenging the spot. Replays clearly showed Suh bringing Forte down before the 25-yard line.
HansonWatch: Here is a fact interesting to me and perhaps you as well: Lions place-kicker Jason Hanson became the first NFL player to appear in 300 games for the same team Monday night. Hanson, 41, has been with the team for 20 seasons.
What's next: The Lions will host the 4-1 San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at Ford Field. Before the season began, did you think Lions-49ers would be one of the biggest games of Week 6? Meanwhile, the Bears will host the Minnesota Vikings in a second consecutive prime-time game, this time Sunday at Soldier Field.