Ford Field was half-empty to witness the beginning of the Chicago Bears against the Detroit Lions. Multiple theories can exist at once here. The Paul Bunyan Trophy was to blame. Many were in mourning, many were hung-over in celebration or defeat, or perhaps apathy had kicked in. Again, all possibilities are conceivable here. But nevertheless, there was a game to be played and the Lions looked desperately for their first win of the year.
The Lions came out to an explosive start, staggering the potentially hung-over fans in the seats. Ameer Abdullah came out rushing hard, gashing the Chicago Bears. Golden Tate spun, marveled and amazed. Down in the redzone all of the sudden, Matthew Stafford threw a dart out on the seam to Lance Moore for a quick touchdown.
Golden Tate hit the juke stick. https://t.co/cdvLkn1V0H— Isaac (@WorldofIsaac) October 18, 2015
The Chicago Bears tried to answer. Eddie Royal broke out on a screen for 30 yards, but the Lions defense held strong on the goal line. Josh Bynes broke up a pass to Martellus Bennett and held the Bears to a field goal. On the subsequent Bears drive, a busted play turned into a massive gain for Jay Cutler as he found Alshon Jeffery. After a fortuitous bounce back into Forte's hands to prevent a fumble, the Bears gave it to Jeremy Langford on the goal line for a touchdown.
With the ball back, the Lions began to drive again. Zach Zenner got hit hard and had to leave for the rest of the game, but not before gaining yardage. A sack on Stafford was wiped out by an offsides penalty by the Bears. When the Lions needed him, Calvin Johnson got lose for 40 yards. In the red zone now, Stafford looked to throw it away on a broken play...wait, no, it found the endzone corner in the hands of...Tim Wright? Tim Wright!
Now both teams played for the end of the half. Two dead-to-rights sacks missed on Jay Cutler saw the Bears quarterback heave it out to Alshon Jeffery, who got away with offensive pass interference on Isa Abdul-Quddus. But in the endzone Josh Wilson and Tahir Whitehead made plays to prevent two touchdown attempts, holding the Bears again to a field goal. The Lions took their turn as Stafford juked his way away from Bears defenders to get a first down, then followed the performance with another deep ball to Calvin Johnson.
This is where it got weird. Stafford put it on the money to Golden Tate in the endzone...and the ball squeezed out like a greased pig. A huge brouhaha ensued over whether or not it was a catch, and because this is the Lions the referees decided it was a catch and a touchdown.
Wait, that can't be right.
Oh. Well, the Dean Blandino explanation wasn't very helpful here. Either way, the Lions left the field up 21-13.
The Bears opened the first half with a large gain to Martellus Bennett, and then again to Marquess Wilson who beat Rashean Mathis silly on the coverage. But Old Man Mathis wasn't taking that guff sitting down and on the next play made a pick in the endzone on a Jay Cutler touchdown pass. On the next Bears possession the Lions had what appeared to be a surefire stop, but a muffed punt return by TJ Jones saw the Bears with the ball back on the Lions 20. Once again the Lions defense came up big to keep the Bears out of the endzone. Robbie Gould trotted out again for another field goal. The Lions lead was 5.
On the next Lions possession Lance Moore once again had a big gain. Riddick tied his longest career rushing attempt at nine yards. Golden Tate grabbed the ball and headed for the endzone, but his second touchdown was wiped out by a call of offensive pass interference. The Lions would settle for a Matt Prater field goal, extending the lead to eight points.
Although the Bears would be stopped on the next drive, another special teams mishap would put the ball back in the hands of the Bears as a fair catch bounced into Corey Fuller's leg and the Bears pounced on it. Once again the Bears moved downfield thanks to a punt and were quickly into the red zone. Backed up after an offensive pass interference, Cutler found Alshon Jeffery in the endzone. The Lions lead was evaporating, but in a baffling decision the Bears decided to kick a meaningless extra point rather than try to tie with a two-point conversion.
Not that it mattered. Stafford made his mandated weird decision and tried to shovel it while being grabbed, resulting in a pick. The Bears marched down the field and Matt Forte scored a two yard rushing touchdown, then converted the two point conversion on a catch from Cutler. The Bears were now up by seven.
All 18 Bears points in the second half have come off Lions turnovers.— Dave Hogg (@Stareagle) October 18, 2015
The Lions got the ball back and looked to be stuck in the mud...until the coaching staff called for a fake punt! Abdul-Quddus broke to the outside off the faked snap and rushed for 30 yards, breathing new life into the Detroit Lions drive. The cosmos screamed about this decidedly smart play-calling, and sure enough on fourth-and-four in the red zone, Caldwell decided to balance the cosmic scales and kicked a field goal down seven points. Matt Prater made the field goal and the fans still booed. The Bears led by four points.
The Bears would play conservatively and punt. With Golden Tate back with the fair catch, the Lions miraculously didn't screw up the catch. With the ball back in the Lions' hands, Stafford found Theo Riddick, who used an official as a screen to bust out a 34-yard play. On the next play, Stafford found Lance Moore...yes, LANCE MOORE...again for 36 yards. Theo Riddick carried the ball inside the two-yard line.
Then the officials got into the game and oh boy this was fantastic! You've been hurt Lions fans, so let this soothe your aches and pains. Matthew Stafford threw it away on second-and-goal towards the endzone, but the referees ruled it as intentional grounding despite Golden Tate in the neighborhood of the play. But then on third-and-goal backed up, Pernell McPhee crashed against Stafford and drew roughing the passer. Finally, the sky was clearing and Stafford found Calvin Johnson in the endzone. Once again, the Lions led and victory seemed assured.
THEN THE LIONS LET THE CHICAGO BEARS GO 80 YARDS IN 21 SECONDS AND SCORE THE GAME-TYING FIELD GOAL.
Everything is black. Rolling Stones and all. Detroit was stunned. Boos came out again and the game was headed to the worst place in the universe. It was time for a NFL...
Pernell McPhee sacked Stafford on third down, Lions punted. The Bears punted back. This was agony. It always is in overtime. In the blink of an eye sudden death was in effect and neither team wanted to take victory from its pedestal in the Temple of Goodell. The clung to each other, battling to the death.
Punting to the heat death of the universe. The galaxy needed a hero.
When you need a hero you turn to a villain. Thankfully, the Lions had one waiting, snarling in the corner, brooding and cursing out underlings.
With darkness closing in, Matthew Stafford unleashed a fire-breathing dragon screaming through the sky, all that sort of Ronnie James Dio imagery, and there was...Calvin Johnson, and screaming fans, and dangerous vibrations threatening to finally destroy Ford Field and end the collective nightmare once and for all. 56 yards and the Lions had snatched victory as the temple began to crumble. They headed for the exits fast as the Bears plummeted into a bottomless chasm.
Stafford slid to the hash marks and set up Matt Prater to kick the game-winning field goal. The Lions were winless no more. The universe was saved.
Final Score: 37-34 Lions OT
I have no smarmy comments to end this recap with. I could talk about special teams blunders and officiating from hell and letting the Bears run down the field like a yellow Ferrari on the Autobahn to tie the game but it no longer matters. I was screaming. I terrified my cat and all manner of living creature. I hope you did too.
This remains a chicken soup game. It makes you feel better. In the grand scheme of things it is meaningless, the season is still lost for the Detroit Lions. But damn does that bowl of soup taste amazing right now.