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Recap: Red-zone issues, defensive struggles drown Lions vs. Bears, lose 24-14

Detroit made some bad mistakes near the goal line and it cost them dearly.

Cincinnati Bengals v Chicago Bears Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions got off to an ugly start against the Chicago Bears and could never find their footing to get back in the game. The offense was able to drive into the red zone three times in the first half, but they walked away with zero points thanks to several self-inflicted wounds. The defense allowed a Bears offense that looked completely impotent last week to walk all over them for most of the game.

For the third time in four weeks, the Lions found themselves down three scores in a game and desperate to claw their way back. Unlike past weeks, this game never really got competitive after the Lions’ slow start and they are now off to a winless start through the first quarter of the season.

And if things weren’t bad enough with the Lions’ 0-4 start, they also suffered injuries to arguably their best players on the team.

Here’s how the game played out.

First quarter

The Bears made a statement by winning the coin toss and demanding to get the ball first. Chicago backed up that decision with a 12-play, 75-yard drive capped by a David Montgomery 4-yard touchdown run. Detroit provided little resistance to the Bears’ rushing attack, allowing 46 yards on nine carries. The Lions forced just one third down the entire drive—which turned into a fourth down—but a 9-yard run from Montgomery gave Chicago the easy conversion. 7-0 Bears.

The Lions' offense responded with a solid drive of their own. A good mix of the run and pass moved Detroit into Bears territory—especially after a 25-yard hookup between Jared Goff and Quintez Cephus. Detroit, however, made an ugly gaffe to end the drive just as they were knocking on the door of a touchdown. Facing first-and-goal, Goff walked up to the line, hoping to call out a play change, but center Frank Ragnow snapped the ball unexpectedly, and it bounced right off Goff into the waiting arms of a Bears defender.

On the second play of the Bears’ ensuing drive, Justin Fields hit a wide-open Darnell Mooney for a 64-yard bomb, getting Chicago out of bad field position.

To make matters even worse for a game that already appeared to be spiraling out of control, two of Detroit’s best players—center Frank Ragnow and edge defender Romeo Okwara—appeared to suffer first-quarter injuries. Both would not return to the game.

Detroit had the chance to hold Chicago to three points, but facing a third-and-4, Justin Fields scrambled for the first down after safety Will Harris took a rough angle.

Second quarter

To kick off the second quarter, Montgomery bullied his way into the endzone for a 9-yard touchdown and a 14-0 Bears lead.

The Lions' offense took over and had another promising drive that finished with nothing to show for it. Detroit worked their way down all the way to the Bears’ 5-yard line but gained zero yards on the next three plays. They decided to go for it on fourth down, but Goff’s pass was batted down, and Chicago took over deep in their own zone.

Detroit’s defense finally settled in, forcing a quick three-and-out after a Dean Marlowe blitz forced an incompletion from Fields—his first of the game. The Lions took over with good field position at their own 43-yard line. Khalil Mack kept Detroit’s offensive possession alive with a critical roughing the passer penalty after a third-down stop, then Goff created some extra time and found Amon-Ra St. Brown on the next third down.

Alas, the Lions’ red zone disasters continued, as on third-and-goal, Penei Sewell was slow out of his stance and Robert Quinn burned him for a strip-sack.

The Lions' defense got a turnover back, as Jalen Reeves-Maybin tipped a Fields pass and it was picked off by Amani Oruwariye.

But the Lions couldn’t take advantage of the good field position, went three-and-out, essentially ending the first—very ugly—half.

Third quarter

Detroit’s offense didn’t get off to an inspiring start, quickly going three and out.

Meanwhile, Fields continued his impressive day. First, he connected with Allen Robinson for 28 yards, then he found Darnell Mooney for 32 yards to get the Bears first-and-goal. Damien Williams punched it in on the next play, and it was quickly 21-0 Bears early in the third quarter.

The teams traded punts the next two possession. The Lions finally broke the shutout in the third quarter. Aided by a kick catch interference on the punt return, Goff found T.J. Hockenson for 22 yards, then Cephus for another 10, setting Detroit up in the red zone for the fourth time in the game. Kalif Raymond was the one who finally broke the threshold with this nice 4-yard touchdown play. 21-7 Bears.

Fields responded with likely the best throw of his career on this 27-yard strike to Allen Robinson.

Detroit was able to hold Chicago to just a field goal there, pushing the score to 24-7 Bears just before the end of the quarter.

Detroit’s offense continued to slowly gain their mojo back. Goff had his best drive of the day, going 5-for-6 for 82 yards and a touchdown—this 25-yard pass to Raymond. 24-14 Bears.

Detroit’s defense got a quick stop thanks to this huge play from outside linebacker Charles Harris, who spun off his blocker and strip-sacked Justin Field for a 24-yard loss.

The Lions got the ball all the way down into the red zone yet again—their fifth trip down there. Detroit faced a tricky fourth-and-1 situation with 4 minutes left. Detroit opted to go for it rather than cut it down to a 7-point lead with a chip shot field goal. But Goff overthrew Amon-Ra St. Brown, causing the Lions’ fourth red zone drive to end with zero points.

The Bears would then run out the clock.