Last week, the Detroit Lions looked like a team that wasn’t ready to make a playoff run. The Carolina Panthers humbled them, and took a big chunk out of their playoff odds.
But in the Lions’ home finale, they bounced back emphatically. Against a poor Chicago Bears team, the Lions looked nearly unstoppable on offense, and their defense was able to corral dangerous quarterback Justin Fields after some early struggles.
The Lions got out to a 28-point lead early in the second half and coasted the rest of the way for a comfortable Week 17 victory to push them back to .500 at 8-8.
Depending on how the rest of Sunday’s games play out, the Lions could be in a playoff spot by the end of the night. At the very least, Detroit will still be in the playoff hunt when they take the field in the season finale against the Green Bay Packers in Week 18.
Here’s how Sunday’s game against the Bears played out.
The Bears got the ball first and nearly went three-and-out, but a holding penalty on Jerry Jacobs nullified a third-down stop. A few plays later, the Bears pulled a trick play with Cole Kmet pitching it to Justin Fields for a 31-yard gain.
On the subsequent third down, Fields found a wide open Kmet for a 13-yard touchdown and an early 7-0 Bears lead.
The Lions hit on a big play of their own with a 28-yard pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown on an early third-and-5. A couple of self-inflicted wounds stalled the drive, with a holding on Frank Ragnow and a dropped pass from DJ Chark. Detroit was stuck in no-man’s land, facing a fourth-and-5 at the 35-yard line. Jared Goff heaved a prayer to Chark in the end zone that was nearly intercepted, but he was mauled down by Bears defenders, drawing a pass interference penalty and setting the Lions up at the 1-yard line. Goff found tight end Brock Wright to tie the game at 7-7 halfway through the first quarter.
The Lions had another chance to force a three-and-out, but Fields made Detroit pay with a 60-yard scramble all the way down to the 9-yard line.
The Lions defense, though, got a stop and held the Bears to a chip-shot field goal. 10-7 Bears.
The Lions looked to answer with a 28-yard strike to Chark that put the Detroit inside the Bears’ 30-yard line as the first quarter came to a close.
On the second play of the quarter, Goff pitched it to D’Andre Swift who made a nice cut inside for the 17-yard score and the 14-10 Lions lead.
Chicago went right back to the run game with an end around to Velus Jones Jr. who found the corner for 13 yards. But Detroit got a stop after a couple of incomplete passes from Fields, and we saw our first punt of the game. Detroit punted the ball right back after a three-and-out of their own.
The Lions defense picked up a pair of sacks to make Chicago’s drive short and harmless. First, rookie Josh Paschal picked up his first career sack with a nice bullrush, and then James Houston capped the drive with his sixth sack of the season.
The Lions methodically worked their way down into Bears territory with a couple of Jamaal Williams runs. A QB sneak picked up a third-and-1 to set the Lions up at Chicago’s 25-yard line. A few plays later, Goff found Wright for the tight end’s second touchdown of the season. 21-10 Lions.
Wright’s touchdown was the 12th from the tight end room this season, setting a franchise record.
Despite being down two scores, the Bears kept with their run game, and it continued to work. But on a play action pass, Fields tried to do a little too much and got caught from behind by Houston, who stripped the ball and it was recovered by Aidan Hutchinson.
A couple of play action shots to St. Brown (12 yard gain, 11) and a pass to James Mitchell pushed Detroit quickly into the red zone with less than two minutes left. Detroit stalled in the red zone, but bled most of the remaining clock, leading to a chip-shot field goal and a 24-10 Lions halftime lead.
The Bears did get a big kick return, but had no shot to score with seven seconds left, so Fields just threw it to Aidan Hutchinson for a hilarious interception.
It looked like the Lions would quickly go three-and-out after Goff took a sack. However, Swift took a third-and-18 draw for 35 yards, breaking several tackles along the way.
Hell of a spin move from Swift! pic.twitter.com/EshXeLYoqQ— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) January 1, 2023
On the next play, the Lions put the ball in Jameson Williams’ hands for a reverse that went for 40 yards.
Jamaal Williams punched it in a few plays later for a quick score and a 31-10 Lions lead.
Chicago quickly went three and out after a couple of incomplete passes, giving the ball back to the Lions offense. However, a special teams penalty on Amani Oruwariye set the Lions up inside their own 10-yard line.
But a one-handed grab by DJ Chark quickly got them to the 30-yard line, and the Lions running game took over from there. Swift and Jamaal Williams hit on back-to-back successful runs, and then Goff found Swift for a 21-yard touchdown pass on a perfectly executed screen pass. 38-10 Lions.
From there, the teams traded three-and-outs. Along the way, James Houston continued his ridiculous game with this half-sack, pushing his game total to 2.5 and season total to 7.5.
Detroit would continue to bleed some clock, but eventually punted back to Chicago with under 12 minutes left with the score still 38-10. But nothing was doing for the Bears offense on this day.
Eventually, the Lions would turn the ball over on downs, giving Chicago the ball on their own 40-yard line with eight minutes remaining. But Ifeatu Melifonwu made a nice play on the ball to get Chicago to turn it over on downs themselves.
From there, the Lions put in Nate Sudfeld to essentially mark the end of the game. But before it ended, Jamaal Williams broke out a 58-yard run to cross over 1,000 yards for the season.
The Lions would tack on a field goal to make it 41-10 Lions.