After falling into a 14-3 hole early on against the Chicago Bears, it looked like the Detroit Lions were going to give fans a disappointing Thanksgiving. The offense continued to struggle, and the defense and special teams got off to a shaky start. Luckily, the best was yet to come. The Lions stormed back to take a 24-14 lead before halftime, and they maintained their grip on the game in the second half. By the end of the game, the Lions were able to cruise to a 34-17 victory, snapping their two-game losing streak and giving them their second win in a row on Thanksgiving.
As has been the case lately, the Lions got off to a very slow start in this game. They got the ball first and went three-and-out after two bad running plays, and Chicago took over near midfield as a result. The defense continued the slow start by allowing the Bears to march right down the field with a bunch of short, quick passes. Eventually, Jay Cutler hit Alshon Jeffery, who went 10 yards for a touchdown to make this 7-0 Bears.
The Lions responded by putting together a promising drive that got rolling with passes of 10, 13 and 20 yards to Calvin Johnson and Eric Ebron. Unfortunately, the drive stalled after yet another bad rushing play, and the Lions ended up having to settle for a 46-yard Matt Prater field goal.
The Lions looked like they might be on the verge of turning things around by forcing a stop on fourth-and-1, but they were pinned deep in their own territory and immediately turned the ball over. Rob Sims got beat badly by Jared Allen, who hit Stafford, forced a fumble and came away with the ball. Two plays later, it was Cutler to Jeffery again for another Bears touchdown.
With the game and really the season on the verge of falling apart for the Lions, they finally ended their touchdown drought. It was a long one, to say the least:
That's the Lions 1st TD since Week 10. 137:34 minutes of game time passed between Lions touchdowns. It's their 1st TD in 26 drives.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 27, 2014
The Lions ended the drought by efficiently moving the ball through the air. They even managed to overcome a holding penalty on Dominic Raiola with a 21-yard pass to Corey Fuller, and that got them all the way down to the Chicago 28. Three plays later, on third-and-7, Stafford found Johnson on a perfect pass and catch for a 25-yard touchdown, cutting the Chicago lead down to 14-10.
After drawing a costly holding penalty on the Bears, the Lions forced a punt, and the offense picked up right where it left off on the previous drive. Stafford again did an excellent job of moving the ball down the field, and a 31-yard pass to Jeremy Ross on third-and-5 got Detroit all the way down to the Chicago 20. The Lions appeared to score three plays later, but Joique Bell's trip to the end zone was negated by a LaAdrian Waddle holding penalty. Despite this, the Lions got down to the 1-yard line on a screen to Theo Riddick on the next play, and Bell jumped over the pile for a touchdown two plays after that on fourth-and-goal. The decision to go for it obviously paid off with the Lions finding the end zone again, and they now had a 17-14 lead.
Following another shaky Bears drive that featured a holding penalty, the Lions got the ball back at their own 36 with 1:45 to go in the first half. This time, it took them only five plays to score another touchdown. Stafford got the drive rolling with a 9-yard pass to Johnson, a 19-yard pass to Riddick and a 6-yard pass to Johnson. Then, after a 24-yard throw to Golden Tate put the Lions on the Chicago 6-yard line, Stafford found Johnson again for another touchdown. The Lions actually closed out the first half with three consecutive touchdown drives, and they held a 24-14 lead after two quarters as a result.
The second half opened with a long drive. The Bears got the ball first and went 63 yards on 13 plays while running 6:06 off the clock. The Lions just couldn't seem to get off the field, as evidenced by them allowing a conversion on third-and-18. They did eventually come up with a stop on third-and-3, though, and they held the Bears to a 35-yard field goal.
Detroit answered with a three-and-out, but the Lions defense came up with a quick stop on Chicago's next drive. This actually resulted in the Lions taking over at their own 5-yard line after a good punt and a Detroit penalty, but it didn't matter. I say that because the Lions put together a fantastic 12-play, 95-yard drive that spanned 6:01 and resulted in another 1-yard touchdown run by Bell. The Lions got some help from a Willie Young penalty and carved up Chicago through the air en route to the score, which put Detroit on top by two touchdowns.
After the two teams traded punts, Chicago took over at its own 3-yard line. In need of a big play to get things turned around, Cutler forced a pass to Brandon Marshall, who had two Lions defenders around him. One of them, Darius Slay, got a piece of the ball and tipped it up, and the other defender, Glover Quin, made a ridiculous diving interception. The Lions took over at the Chicago 42 and later added a 40-yard field goal by Prater to take a 34-17 lead.
Following a quick three-and-out by the Bears, the Lions pounded the ball on the ground with Bell, who continued to have a good day. The Lions were able to run some clock before turning the ball over on downs with 1:55 to go. After this, the Bears were able to quickly get down the field with the Lions in prevent mode on defense, and they actually managed to score via an illegal forward pass on what should have been the game's final play. The penalty, combined with a flag on the Lions, resulted in one final untimed down, and Cutler capped off the game in fitting fashion by getting picked off by James Ihedigbo in the end zone.
The Lions' 34-17 victory means they are now 8-4. Next week, the Lions have another extremely winnable home game on the schedule with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coming to town. They will get a mini-break before then, though, and they will get to celebrate Thanksgiving as victors for the second year in a row.
To buy tickets, visit the NFL Ticket Exchange.