NFC North: 2013 Week 10 DET at CHI Rapid Reaction

Rapid Reaction: Detroit Lions

November, 10, 2013

CHICAGO -- A few thoughts on the Detroit Lions' 21-19 victory against the Chicago Bears.

What it means: The Lions, a team that has spent most of the past 30 or so years wandering in mediocrity or worse, are in first place in the NFC North. By themselves, barring a miracle comeback by Green Bay. In the second half of the season. For the first time in a long time.

And by beating the Bears in Chicago for the first time since 2007, the Lions now hold the tiebreaker over the Bears for any playoff implications and put themselves in even better position for a playoff berth should they end up not winning the division.

Detroit made it interesting, though, taking a lead late in the fourth quarter and then needing a two-point conversion stop at the end of the game to hold on. But a win is a win is a win, and the Lions are in first place in the division.

Stock Watch: Rising -- The play of defensive back Don Carey. Thrown into the game after Chicago picked on rookie Darius Slay early in the game -- the Bears went at him on two straight third-down conversions -- the Lions went to Carey and he played well, reading underneath routes and making two tackles. Detroit’s run defense is also rising. The Lions did a good job containing Matt Forte, holding him to 33 yards on 17 carries. And once again, Detroit’s playoff chances are rising. The Lions, with the victory and the Green Bay loss, are alone atop the NFC North. And Nick Fairley is on the rise. The large defensive tackle broke through the line, swallowed Forte on a two-point conversion and won the game for the Lions.

Return of the process: After a Matthew Stafford interception, Chicago had a first-and-goal to go. A holding call nullified a touchdown and set up a third down, when Jay Cutler hit Alshon Jeffery for what looked like a 14-yard touchdown catch. But in the same stadium where the Calvin Johnson complete the process rule cost Detroit a game in 2010, the Lions got one back in 2013. In the opposite end zone of the Johnson non-catch, Jeffery bobbled the ball after he hit the ground, costing the Bears a touchdown.

What’s next: Detroit stays on the road next week, heading to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers.

Rapid Reaction: Chicago Bears

November, 10, 2013

CHICAGO -- A few thoughts on the Chicago Bears21-19 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Soldier Field:

What it means: The Bears missed an opportunity to seize the division lead and put some cushion between themselves and the Green Bay Packers, who lost to Philadelphia. Instead, Chicago made its road to the postseason more difficult. Quarterback Josh McCown came in and provided a spark late, nearly rallying the Bears. His entrance at the 2:17 mark was long overdue, as Jay Cutler seemed to be hurting the team by trying to play through injury.

Second-guessing fourth-down call: Bears coach Marc Trestman drew praise for his decision Monday night to go for it on fourth down against the Packers, but a similar move in the second quarter resulted in criticism. With his team holding possession at the Detroit 27-yard line, Trestman called for a Michael Bush run behind right guard Kyle Long that went for no gain. The offensive line appeared to produce adequate push, but Bush ran into the backs of his blockers.

Protecting Cutler: Just 21 days removed from tearing a groin muscle, Cutler returned to the starting lineup on Sunday, showing no residual effects from the injury -- at least initially. Cutler connected on 3 of 4 for 61 yards and a 32-yard touchdown to Brandon Marshall on Chicago’s opening drive. The team put Cutler in the shotgun for the majority of the game to minimize the risk of aggravating the injury; Chicago operated out of the shotgun on 12 of its first 13 snaps and 25 of 33 snaps in the first half. Then, late through the second quarter, Cutler started to show signs that he was in pain. That pain appeared to increase during the team’s first drive to start the second half. Looking stiff and sluggish, Cutler seemed to be in enough discomfort to leave the game. But the next time the Bears had the ball he hit Marshall for a 44-yard completion. Later in the drive, Cutler -- in tremendous pain -- actually headed toward the sideline, with McCown running onto the field. Cutler fell as he neared the sideline, but waved off McCown and walked back to the huddle.

Run D better, still needs work: Reggie Bush ran wild in the first meeting between the teams, gaining a 139 yards on 18 attempts. Chicago’s defense did a much better job defending Bush on Sunday, but the running back still made a few key plays. Bush broke a 39-yarder on Detroit’s first drive of the second half, which put the Lions in position to go ahead by seven on Calvin Johnson’s 4-yard touchdown reception. On the play, Bush shook struggling Bears safety Chris Conte; Charles Tillman making the touchdown-saving tackle.

Conte redemption? Despite the early struggles, Conte picked off a Matthew Stafford pass intended for Johnson and returned it 35 yards to set up a Robbie Gould 32-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. Then he gave Chicago’s offense another chance when he knocked a pass out of Johnson’s hands in the end zone.

What’s next: The Bears return to Halas Hall on Monday to watch film of the loss to Detroit before taking the day off Tuesday. The club begins preparations Wednesday to host the Baltimore Ravens next Sunday at noon.




Thursday, 9/4
Sunday, 9/7
Monday, 9/8