We struggled to get five Detroit Lions’ candidates for the game ball this week, as the Chicago Bears had the Lions’ number at every facet of the game. This game was a disaster, so we’re going to tackle the five biggest losers in this game first.
The nosedive Tate’s career has taken in one offseason is unbelievable. Tate was a crucial part to the Lions’ offense in 2015; last season, Tate had more than 40 receiving yards in eight of his final nine games. This year, he’s gone over 40 yards just once: Week 1 when he had 41 yards.
This week, Tate had one catch for one yard, plus an additional two-point conversion when the Lions still needed a miracle to win. His biggest error came late in the first half when it appeared he ran the wrong route, resulting in an easy interception for the Bears, when the Lions were well within field goal range.
The mistake had Tate benched for much of the second half, which was both shocking to see and completely understandable given Tate’s performance.
The Lions got Antwione Williams back this week, but the blown coverages did not stop. Williams appeared to be the culprit of a miscommunication on the Bears’ second touchdown, resulting in a wide open tight end for the 300th time this year. Williams aside, the linebackers couldn’t seem to tackle Jordan Howard, who had a career high 111 rushing yards in his first game as an NFL starter.
If you were to point out the Lions limited Kevin White and Alshon Jeffery to just 101 yards combined, you’d think the defense held up pretty well. Unfortunately, Eddie Royal was the thorn in the Lions’ side this week. Diggs couldn’t seem to keep up with the 30-year-old receiver, and Royal finished the game with seven catches for 111 yards.
The Lions defense continues to look absolutely awful with no silver linings to it. The injury excuse can only go so far. Austin has had a few weeks to work out the Lions’ pass rush problems and linebacker coverage issues and nothing has improved. In fact, it continues to get worse as the Lions’ opponents get worse. Brian Hoyer finished with a 120.1 passer rating, his second-highest rating of his long career.
Stafford is probably the least of the Lions’ problems right now, but that doesn’t excuse him from a bad game on Sunday. Though both of his interceptions looked like blown routes from receivers, Stafford was inaccurate all game and seemed very hesitant to get rid of the ball. He’s the leader of this offense and the offense was inexplicably poor against a below-average Bears defense.
As mentioned above, the Lions did a good job of holding Jeffery and White in check, and most of that was because of Slay. Darius had three passes defended on the day, three more than anyone else on the defense. Yep, that’s right, he’s the only player on the team who got a hand on the pass. Slay added four tackles and a sack to round off his above-average day.
Sure Roberts had another frustrating return from the end zone that saw him stopped before the 20—and was also penalized putting the Lions’ within their own 10—but he also had two important plays on special teams. First, a 31-yard kickoff return to give the Lions good field position to start the second half, and then an 85-yard punt return to the house. The punt return gave the Lions one last hope for a win, but Detroit didn’t recover the ensuing onside kick.
No one has earned their contract extension like the Lions’ punter. Martin had only one poor punt on Sunday, and even that one ended up pinning the Bears within their own 20 yard line. Martin averaged 49.0 yards per punt and had an outstanding 59-yard punt that swapped field position in the first half.