The Detroit Lions have seemingly mastered the art of winning ugly. There have been several games this season where past Lions teams likely wouldn't have been able to overcome their sloppiness, but this year's team has been different in that regard. The latest example was Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears. The Lions made mistakes throughout the game and allowed the Bears to hang around, but that didn't matter since Detroit won in the end by a score of 20-14.
As hinted at above, this game was extremely sloppy for the Lions, although it started out pretty well. The Lions forced a couple of quick three-and-outs as the game began, and they found the end zone on their second drive after the first one stalled near midfield. On the second possession, the Lions kept things alive with a 21-yard screen to Reggie Bush on fourth-and-6 from the Chicago 34, and Bush found the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown run on the very next play. It was nice to see the Bush of old show up, and his TD gave the Lions an early 7-0 lead.
The Bears actually responded with an outstanding drive of their own. They got all the way down to the 1-yard line, where they had second-and-goal. It was at this point that the Lions defense took over. Ndamukong Suh hit Jimmy Clausen before he could even complete a two-step drop, resulting in an incompletion, and Matt Forte was stuffed on third down. On fourth down, the Bears went for it, and Clausen somehow ended up throwing the ball to an eligible offensive lineman in double coverage. Unsurprisingly, this led to an incompletion, meaning Chicago's 14-play, 64-yard drive that ran 7:33 off the clock produced zero points.
The Lions answered with another solid drive of their own, but it also ended with no points. That's because Matthew Stafford threw up an awful pass in the end zone on second-and-11 from the 17-yard line and was picked off. It was just an unnecessary throw, and it led to a turnover.
After a quick three-and-out for the Bears, it was more of the same for the Lions. They got inside the red zone, and instead of scoring points to add to their lead, Stafford was intercepted. This time, his interception came on third-and-11, and the Bears took over at their own 2-yard line.
Chicago managed to flip the field by driving all the way down to the Detroit 40. The Bears had plans to go for it on fourth-and-3, but a false start led to a punt. This actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the Bears, as Jeremy Ross muffed the punt, giving the Bears the ball at the Detroit 11. On the very next play, Clausen found Forte for an easy touchdown, making this a 7-7 game going into halftime.
The Lions opened the second half with a scoring drive that put them back on top. Bush came up with another big conversion during the drive, but things stalled once the Lions got down to the Chicago 21. As a result, they had to settle for a 39-yard Matt Prater field goal, and he gave the Lions a 10-7 lead.
The Bears answered with another touchdown drive that was aided by a gaffe by the Lions' punt return unit. This time, Ross didn't fumble. Instead, Julian Stanford roughed the punter, turning fourth-and-23 into an automatic first down. Three plays later, Clausen hit Alshon Jeffery for a 20-yard touchdown, giving the Bears a 14-10 lead.
Things continued to go downhill for the Lions thanks to special teams on their next drive. They actually managed to convert a fourth-and-2 at the Chicago 31 to keep the chains moving, but the drive stalled right after this. This led to a 37-yard attempt by Prater, who had his kick blocked. He slipped as he went to hit the ball, leading to a low kick that was easily blocked by the Bears.
The Lions defense came up big with a stop, and the offense followed that up with a huge touchdown drive. It looked like the drive was going to stall after only one first down, but Corey Fuller drew a 46-yard pass interference penalty on third-and-10. This put the Lions at the Chicago 17, and Joique Bell scored with a magnificent run on the very next play. Suddenly the Lions were back on top, 17-14.
After forcing a quick three-and-out, the Lions took over near midfield and started running down the clock by feeding Bell the ball. He got them inside the red zone, but the drive stalled after a questionable set of play calls. The Lions were forced to settle for yet another field goal, and Prater connected from 30 yards out to make this a 20-14 game.
With 2:35 to go and no timeouts remaining, the Bears had to find the end zone on their next drive. After an early personal foul on Ziggy Ansah, their chances looked decent, but the Lions defense shut the door pretty quickly on any hope the Bears had of coming back. They forced three straight incompletions following the penalty, and Glover Quin recorded his league-leading seventh interception of the season on fourth-and-10. The Lions were able to simply run out the clock, sealing their 20-14 victory.
Next week, it's pretty simple for the Lions with them headed to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers. The winner of this game will take home the NFC North title, and the winner will also clinch a first-round bye. The stakes don't get much higher than that.
To buy tickets, visit the NFL Ticket Exchange.