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Final Score: Shaky day for Stafford but Lions hold on to defeat Bears 20-17

With Stafford fighting injury and turnovers, the defense stepped up to stop a hot Matt Barkley as the Lions improve to 9-4 on the season.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Lions returned home to host the Chicago Bears, who had handed them their third loss on the year and were starting Matt Barkley at quarterback. Would the Lions continue their domination from the New Orleans game or return to their heart-endangering ways?

First half

The first play made by Stafford was a 11-yard pass out to Golden Tate, and the Lions would continue to nickle and dime the Bears early. They’d pick up a couple more first downs—all on passes, to Marvin Jones and then to Tate again—before a sack on third down, complicated with two holding penalties, would force the Lions to punt into the end zone. The defense got out onto the field to challenge Matt Barkley, who started for quarterback for Chicago. On the second play the Lions stuffed the Bears for a tackle for loss; the second tackle was made by the returning DeAndre Levy, and the home crowd roared with approval. But then Barkley began to settle in, making two passes for two first downs. Jordan Howard got a lane and took off for 20 yards. However, as the Bears got into the red zone, three straight false start penalties moved them back repeatedly on a second down, and pressure forced Barkley to throw it away on the next play. A pass defended by Rafael Bush forced Chicago to take the field goal.

On the second play on the Lions’ next drive, Stafford found Ebron for the first down, but a broken play followed it as Zenner missed the handoff and Stafford’s throw out of bounds was considered intentional grounding by Jeff Triplette. The next play on second-and-20 was a run for some godforsaken reason; naturally it picked up just about a yard. The most useless play in the NFL book (draw play) brought up a smattering and the Lions punted again. Meanwhile, Stafford got his hand looked at on the sideline.

Despite having the Bears backed up against their end zone, Matt Barkley’s first throw was wide open for 24 yards. Chicago would convert a few more first downs, but Glover Quin brought pressure and forced Barkley to throw past the hands of Josh Bellamy. Andre Roberts had a good return but it was wiped out by a block in the back by Joique Bell. With Stafford messing with the glove on his hand, he nevertheless found Ebron for a first down, and then Golden Tate for another. After that, Jeff Triplette came to play.

Triplette called a hands to the face on Taylor Decker, who was the one getting a hand in his face in reality. His crew then picked up a defensive pass interference flag. On third and long, Stafford looked to bail out the drive and found Marvin Jones deep; it looked like Triplette’s crew would wipe it out again, but somehow they missed a holding on the Lions and called a penalty on the Bears instead. The drive would die shortly thereafter with Stafford throwing wobbly balls, but Prater put the Lions on the board and tied the game.

The Bears would have four plays to go three-and-out (including a false start), but Ezekiel Ansah would leave the game after a bad tackle. The Lions got the ball back after a long incompletion from Barkley.

The Bears committed a dumb pass interference call as the Lions moved into Bears territory. A few plays later, Anquan Boldin made a reception to convert a third down and became tied at No. 10 in all-time receptions. A missed connection with Andre Roberts brought up another third down, but Stafford managed to run for first down. Stafford found Dwayne Washington two plays later, who got some help from the Bears defenders pushing him towards the first down. A holding call put the Lions back, but Anquan Boldin would haul in the touchdown pass on the next play, moving into sole possession of No. 10 all time over Andre Johnson—and oh, he also put the Lions up 10-3 with 19 seconds to go in the half. The Bears called up a run play to burn out the clock and shuffled to the locker rooms.

Second half

The Lions kicked the ball short of the end zone and forced the Bears to start shy of the 20, but Barkley would find Josh Bellamy unguarded for 23 yards anyway. Josh Sitton was called for a hold that pushed Chicago back, and two plays later A’Shawn Robinson ate up the run to put the at Bears third-and-15. The new Lion Asa Jackson made the tackle on third down and forced Chicago to punt.

The Lions looked shaky to start after a few rushing plays, but Stafford found Ebron on third down to convert. Dwayne Washington started to get warm, picking up seven on the next play, and Stafford scrambled for the first down. Zach Zenner came in to run next and picked up 13. The drive would soon short out, and a batted pass on third down forced Prater to come on and nail another long field goal.

The Bears opened with Jordan Howard, who responded with a 31-yard run down the sideline. Josh Bynes put the Bears back, but Matt Barkley started to make plays, first finding Bellamy for the first down and then Cameron Meredith for the touchdown to narrow the score to 13-10 Lions.

The Lions looked to answer but kept it mostly on the ground to start. Dwayne Washington got the ball five times, helping to power the Lions run down towards the red zone and nearing a score. However, Stafford’s pass to Tate deflected high and fell into the hands of a Chicago defender, resulting in an interception.

Detroit brought pressure and appeared to force the Bears to a three-and-out, but Jeff Triplette came in with a flag late and called Asa Jackson for holding. Jordan Howard helped pick up another first down, and the Bears looked to be moving again. Barkley threw an easy pick as the Bears entered Lions territory, but Tahir Whitehead dropped the ball. But Kerry Hyder would once again come up with a sack at the opportune time, teaming up with Devin Taylor’s pressure to drop Barkley and force the Chicago punt.

The Lions looked to start rolling to keep the pressure on the Bears, but the wear and tear would catch up on Stafford as a bad throw found the hands of Bears rookie Cre’Von LeBlanc, who took it back for six points. Yet again, the Lions were behind in the fourth quarter.

Stafford’s first pass back on the attack was nearly picked, but Marvin Jones managed to hold onto it. Zenner took the ball and picked up 11, and a facemask call tacked on 15 more. Boldin caught the short pass from Stafford two plays later and picked up 23 yards, many of those coming after the catch. The Bears were called for pass interference within the 10-yard line, and the Lions had a chance to punch it in on first-and-goal, but a low throw to Washington was dropped. Stafford would be the one to take it in on the next play, dodging a sack and taking advantage of the holes to run for the touchdown, and while he managed to screw up the Gronk spike the Lions took the lead, 20-17.

Matt Barkley looked to throw to start the drive, but Josh Bynes batted down a pass along the sidelines. Ansah stepped up next play, bringing pressure and forcing a short pass to go only four yards. Barkley found Daniel Brown for the first down just as the two-minute warning came around. Brown caught the next pass for four yards, and Bellamy picked up the first down. Barkley’s next pass was deflected by Tavon Wilson. Brown picked up the next pass, and then on the next play the Bears picked up a first down with a Jordan Howard run, putting them in field goal range with 58 seconds remaining.

Barkley looked to make a 28-yard pass to Cameron Meredith but a flag came in, and a holding call against Charles Leno wiped it out. A second long pass by Barkley got home, but a second holding call came in shortly after that and the Bears were going in reverse. Barkley next pass was short and towards the sideline, and the next play was batted incomplete. On third down Barkley picked up 13 yards, and the Bears faced fourth-and-long with 18 seconds. Barkley looked to make one more pass...and it was knocked down by Darius Slay! The Lions held on yet again, back to their Cardiac Cat ways and held on to beat their hated foes.