The Detroit Lions came into Sunday's game against the undefeated Chicago Bears feeling like they needed to make a statement. Well, I think that statement's been received loud and clear. The Lions controlled the Bears on Sunday in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated. The offense was explosive, mainly thanks to Reggie Bush, and the defense gave Jay Cutler problems all day, creating 4 turnovers. Even the special teams unit was quite good with a big punt return and 4 field goals. All of this combined to produce a 40-32 final score and a win that puts the Lions in first place in the NFC North.
The Lions opened this game with the ball, and as usual, failed to score any points. They didn't go three-and-out, but they could only move the chains once. The Bears had a similar start in that they only moved the chains a limited number of times, but their first downs went for 13 and 30 yards. As a result, they ended up in field goal range and opened the scoring with a 34-yard Robbie Gould kick.
The Lions answered with a field goal of their own. They put together an excellent drive that was filled with chunk plays -- an 11-yard pass to Brandon Pettigrew, runs of 17 and 11 yards by Bush, a 14-yard pass to Calvin Johnson and an 11-yard pass to Joique Bell. Unfortunately, they got stuffed on third-and-1 from the 5-yard line on a shotgun handoff to Bell, leading to a 23-yard field goal by David Akers.
On the next drive, the Lions defense came up with a big play after a mistake by Ziggy Ansah. The Lions had a stop on third down, but an Ansah offside penalty gave Chicago another chance. On the second try, Louis Delmas made a perfect read and ripped the ball away from a wide receiver for an interception. The pick set up another Akers field goal, as the Lions again could only move the chains once.
Chicago quickly bounced back from the turnover by retaking the lead. Alshon Jeffery went 27 yards on an end-around thanks to poor contain by Israel Idonije, and Matt Forte went 53 yards for a touchdown on the very next play thanks to poor contain by Willie Young. It was a really awful sequence for the Lions, and they found themselves down 10-6 as a result.
Much like the Bears, the Lions quickly bounced back from a rough play with another solid drive filled with big plays. Bush gained 15 and 16 yards to open the drive, and Tony Scheffler picked up 22 to move the ball into Chicago territory. The Lions were again stopped on third-and-short, though. This time, Scheffler dropped a slant that would have moved the chains. After a 41-yard Akers field goal, the Lions were now down 10-9.
After a three-and-out by the Bears, Micheal Spurlock helped change the course of this game. He'd had a rough day on kick returns, but he took a Bears punt back 57 yards. The Lions started their next drive at the Chicago 22, and Stafford found Kris Durham for a huge 12-yard gain on third-and-1. The catch was a nice one in traffic, and it led to a Stafford quarterback sneak on the very next play for a touchdown. (Stafford actually fumbled the ball, but it came right back to him for the score.)
The Lions kept pouring it on with a Glover Quin interception on the first and only play of Chicago's next drive. He returned the pick all the way to the 2-yard line, and Stafford hit Johnson for a touchdown on a fade on the very next play. The Lions now held a 23-10 lead after scoring a pair of touchdowns in about 20 seconds.
Things went from bad to worse for the Bears after another three-and-out, which featured a sack by Stephen Tulloch. The Lions took over near midfield, and Bush fumbled on his first carry of the drive. Johnson was there to fall right on it, though, and Bush made sure he held on to the ball on his next run, which went 37 yards for a touchdown. It was an outstanding and athletic play by Bush, and the touchdown gave the Lions a 30-10 lead.
Another Bears three-and-out followed Bush's touchdown (thanks in part to a sack by Ndamukong Suh), and the Lions had their sights set on another score before halftime. They were moving the ball well, but Stafford had it knocked out of his hands by Julius Peppers right after he missed an open Ryan Broyles downfield. Chicago took over in Detroit territory following the fumble recovery, and thanks to a 36-yard pass to Jeffery, Gould was able to add a 28-yard field goal before halftime, making this a 30-13 game.
The theme of the first part of the third quarter was three-and-outs. The Bears opened the second half with a three-and-out, and the Lions followed it up with one of their own. Chicago was able to break the string of punts on its next drive, though. Cutler opened the possession with a 24-yard pass to Brandon Marshall and a 44-yard bomb to Jeffery, but that's all they were able to get. The Lions defense stood tough, holding the Bears to a 25-yard field goal.
Following another Lions punt, the defense came up with another big play. On third-and-18 (following a third-down conversion that was brought back because of a penalty), Cutler threw the ball downfield right to Delmas, who caught it for his second interception of the game. The Lions took over near midfield as a result, and they quickly got down into the red zone. Unfortunately, on second-and-1, Stafford caught a bad break and threw a pass right off Johnson's knee. It was picked off by Chicago, but Bell made a nice tackle on two Bears defenders to make sure the return didn't go anywhere.
The Lions came right back at the Bears with yet another turnover to make sure the bad bounce didn't alter the outlook of this game. On third-and-10, Suh drilled Cutler, who didn't even see him coming. The ball came loose, and Fairley picked it up and returned it 4 yards for a touchdown. The Lions were now on top 37-16, and they had complete control of this game.
The Lions continued to have complete control of this game by forcing another Bears punt. They then proceeded to move down the field thanks to passes of 22 and 24 yards to Durham. The drive stalled once in Chicago territory, but another Akers field goal, this time from 43 yards out, put the Lions on top by a score of 40-16.
Chicago was finally able to return to the end zone on its next drive. The Lions pretty much went into prevent mode to allow the Bears to run out the clock. It took the Bears 12 plays, a pair of fourth-down conversions and nearly 5 minutes, but they did score a touchdown. The second fourth-down conversion was a 14-yard pass to Jeffery in the end zone, and he caught another pass in the end zone on the two-point conversion. This cut the lead down to 40-24 with 4 minutes left in the game.
The Bears tried an onside following the touchdown, but it was recovered by Durham. After a first down to Johnson, it looked like this game was as good as over, but Bell fumbled the ball away to the Bears with 2:59 left on the clock. Chicago once again moved right down the field, and Cutler connected with Earl Bennett for a 10-yard touchdown. A successful two-point conversion to Marshall made this a 40-32 game, but Durham thankfully once again recovered the ensuing onside kick.
The Lions allowed it to get a little too close for comfort at the end, but they came away with a pretty impressive 40-32 victory over the Bears. Detroit is now in first place in the NFC North heading into next week's game at the Green Bay Packers.