Under the big lights of Monday Night Football, it was the Detroit Lions who succumbed to the pressure while the Chicago Bears held strong.
As the 13-7 score dictates, both defenses played well, but it was Chicago’s defense that won the game.
The Bears came up with one big play after another, forcing four Lions turnovers, none bigger than a Joique Bell fumble at the Bears’ goal line.
The Bell fumble wasn’t the Lions only fumble of the game. In fact, four different Lions coughed it up a total of six times on Monday night. Mikel Leshoure lost a critical fumble as the Lions were driving in the second quarter, Brandon Pettigrew dropped the football on back-to-back touches, and punt returner Stefan Logan muffed two punts, losing one.
The Lions simply couldn’t hang onto the football in this game, and gave momentum back to Chicago time and time again. In addition to Bell giving it away in close, Leshoure’s fumble also came in the red zone, killing a Detroit drive that likely would have ended in points.
Matthew Stafford was hurried all game long, never getting close to comfortable in the pocket. The offensive line couldn’t give him time against a stout Bears’ pass rush, forcing Stafford into bad throws that included an interception. Stafford’s only pick of the game came with less than three minutes to play as the Lions drove deep inside Bears’ territory. Running for his life on fourth down at the Bears’ 3-yard line, Stafford chucked it towards the goal line but was intercepted by corner D.J. Moore.
Watching the Lions turn it over was hard enough, but watching them turn it over so close to the goal line was gut wrenching. The more I watch this team, the angrier I get with their inability to play disciplined football.
Stafford will start being criticized this week after his shaky performance in this game. This lackluster performance has become the norm for Stafford this year, and while his line of 28-of-46 for 261 yards and a touchdown looks pretty good, it wasn’t. His touchdown and about 50 of those 261 yards came in the Lions’ final drive which was basically garbage time.
Stafford got his team exactly one first down until the final drive of the first half, which ended in a fumble anyway. The Detroit offense went three-and-out six times, including a stretch of four straight in the first half.
The Lions’ quarterback seems to be falling into his old habits of not setting his feet, throwing off his back foot, and rushing every throw. Matt needs to calm down, make good
reads, and deliver strong throws. And a little protection would help.
To add injury to insult so to speak, wide receiver Nate Burleson went down with a broken leg in the game and will miss the rest of the year. This prompted the Ryan Broyles era to begin early in Detroit, and Broyles didn’t disappoint. The rookie from Oklahoma caught three of his four targets for 51 yards and the Lions’ only score.
Meanwhile, Calvin Johnson continued to struggle, catching only three balls for 34 yards. Some of it was because of Stafford’s subpar play, some of it was because Johnson dropped balls, and some of it was just good defense by Chicago. It was clear that the Bears’ game plan revolved around eliminating big plays from Johnson, as their safeties were regularly 15 to 20 yards off the line of scrimmage.
With the loss, the Lions fall to 2-4, three games behind Chicago for the division lead.
If they don’t start hanging onto the football, they will drop a lot farther than that.
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