With the season in question after getting blown out a week ago, it was time for the Detroit Lions to make a statement, especially with the Bears in town. That statement wasn't too loud for the first three quarters of yesterday's game, but for the final 15 minutes, the message was received loud and clear. Going into the fourth quarter, Detroit actually trailed by a score of 13-3. Fast forward to the end of the game and the Lions had scored 34 points, which was good enough to give them a 37-27 win over Chicago.
Can you say unexpected? After the first three quarters, both teams struggled to score points. That would change, however, when the Lions and the Bears went off in the fourth quarter to combine for 50 points. Detroit's 34 points set a new NFL record for most points in a fourth quarter. Just goes to show that you never can turn off a game because it's boring when there's a chance 50 points will be scored in a single quarter.
As I've already said, the first three quarters off this game were boring. I thought this recap would be short and easy to write with such little action, but boy was I wrong. Before I get to the quarter that seemed to never end, let's first look at how we got there.
Even though the scoreboard looked lifeless, there actually were some big plays in the first half. After a three and out to start the game, Chicago got the ball and ended up attempting a 52-yard field goal. It would've put the Bears ahead early and you could say given them a momentum boost. Fortunately for the Lions, Shaun Rogers blocked the kick and gave Detroit the momentum instead. That blocked kick led to a Jason Hanson field goal that put the Lions on top 3-0 after Detroit caught a break on what should have been a Jon Kitna fumble. The ruling on the field was a sack even though the ball came loose, and after originally calling for the play to be challenged, Lovie Smith decided against that after talking with officials.
After trading punts for the next few possessions, Detroit put together a solid drive that eventually had the Lions inside the Chicago 10-yard line. It looked like the Lions were about to score a touchdown, but instead, the fourth redzone turnover in four games happened. It wouldn't be another interception, but rather a Tatum Bell fumble. The ball came loose and Alex Brown recovered it for Chicago, giving them a break that kept Detroit out of the endzone.
The turnover wouldn't lead to points for Chicago on the very next drive, but you could tell the Lions had something taken out of them after the fumble. The Lions did make a stop and got the ball down the field again, but Chicago got a blocked field goal of their own. Jason Hanson's attempt from 39 yards away was tipped and fell in the endzone, far short of the goalposts. This time, Chicago did capitalize off of this Detroit mistake. Brian Griese drove the Bears down the field and capped off the drive with a 15-yard TD pass to Muhsin Muhammad.
Chicago tried to add another TD right before the half, but an interception would keep the lead at only 4 points. Brian Griese tried to squeeze in a pass in the endzone, but Fernando Bryant picked it off to prevent the TD. It really wasn't a bad pass per say. It was thrown in a tight area, but Bryant made a good play to get the INT.
As the third quarter got underway, things looked bad for the Lions early on. Following a three and out by Chicago, Jon Kitna was sacked and fumbled at his own 12-yard line. Chicago recovered the fumble and put Griese and company in a good position to up their lead. At this point, Detroit needed another turnover to keep the Bears from getting into the endzone again. Well, if you ask, you shall receive. Griese threw a pass that was behind Bernard Berrian, and although Berrian could have caught it, the ball went off his hands and Ernie Sims picked it off. That meant that another TD was averted thanks to an interception.
During most of the rest of the third quarter, there wasn't really too much to talk about. Robbie Gould did add two field goals to give the Bears a 13-3 lead, but as we were about to find out, that meant very little in hindsight. After that second field goal, Detroit started to open it up. Jon Kitna found tight end Sean McHugh for 23 yards and Chicago roughed him after the pass to add on an additional 15 yard. Kitna then connected with Shaun McDonald for 21 yards to move the ball inside the redzone. Fast forward to the first play of the fourth quarter and it was Kitna to McDonald again, this time ending up in the endzone for a 4-yard TD. With the score, Detroit trailed only 13-10. Remember this point in the game. With just under 15 minutes to go in the game, the score was 13-10.
Does everyone have their running shoes on, because this game is about to take off. On the drive following the score, Detroit's Keith Smith picked off a Griese pass and took it 64 yards to the house to put the Lions on top 17-13. Don't get comfortable just yet, though. On the proceeding kickoff, Devin Hester escaped Lions defenders on the return and took it to the house as well. It was a 97-yard kickoff return and no matter how bad the tackling was, Hester is by far the best returner in this league. Just like that, Chicago was back on top 20-17.
Needing a few big plays of its own, the Lions offense started to show why it is so explosive. Now that the handcuffs appeared to be off and Kitna was able to just throw it down the field, the Lions began to take over. Following a 49-yard pass to Mike Furrey that put Detroit in a position to score, Kitna did just that two plays later. He threw a pass to Troy Walters in the back corner of the endzone and somehow Walters made the catch and got two feet down inbounds. The pass really was perfectly thrown and Walters caught it, got one foot down, and then dragged the other for the TD. This play was actually ruled incomplete originally, but after a Detroit challenge, it was overturned for the TD.
The Lions defense stepped up again on the next Bears possession, forcing a punt. With control of the game already, Detroit moved in to put the nail in the coffin. Surprisingly, it was done by running the ball. There was a pass or two that moved the ball down the field, but for the most part, Kevin Jones ran his way into position for a score. Once in position, Jones scampered into the endzone for a 5-yard TD run, putting the Lions in the lead by a score of 30-20 (extra point was blocked).
It would've been too easy to just end the game here, so Chicago did make it interesting. Brian Griese had little trouble completing passes as the Lions appeared to be playing off the receivers. Before you knew it, the Bears were all the way down to the Lions 3-yard line. With a fourth and goal, Chicago was going to just kick a field goal, but an illegal formation call on the successful field goal try moved the ball to the 1-yard line. Being closer, the Bears then elected to go for the TD and got it on a pass from Griese to Desmond Clark.
With only 52 seconds remaining in the game, Chicago had to kick and recover an onside to stay alive since they trailed 30-27. Robbie Gould kicked the ball into the ground and it bounced to the Lions' Casey FitzSimmons. It should be noted here that FitzSimmons is a TE/FB. Why exactly? Well, FitzSimmons had room and ran the kick back to the endzone for a touchdown. He may not have had the style of a Devin Hester kick return, but FitzSimmons got the job done. Not only did he recover the onside, but he scored a TD off of it to put the Lions ahead 37-27. That put the Bears to sleep and ended the dramatic fourth quarter.
Following this big 37-27 win by the Lions, Detroit now advances to 3-1 on the year. That record will be put on the line next week when the Lions head to FedEx Field to battle the Redskins. Can Detroit win and move to a stunning 4-1 record? I sure hope so. Until then, Go Lions!