Coming off a big 41-38 win over the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 10, the Detroit Lions returned home as they took on an NFC North rival in the Chicago Bears. The game had some injury woes before kickoff as the Lions were down starting left guard Jonah Jackson, while the Bears got quarterback Justin Fields and running back Khalil Herbert back from their injuries.
Detroit changed their defensive mindset in this game, as they only had three defensive tackles in the lineup with others out due to an illness or a healthy scratch. The move seemed to be to combat the dual-threat ability of Fields as the Lions needed to keep him in check and limit his scrambling ability. That strategy ended up not working for the Lions in the end as Fields was able to run all over them.
The Lions had a rough game all around, all three phases didn’t show up to play today, but despite not everyone playing at their best, the Lions were able to come back and defeat the Bears 31-26. Heading into Thanksgiving, the Lions will be 8-2. Check out our winners and losers from the win against the Chicago Bears.
Another week, another appearance in the winner column for running back Jahmyr Gibbs. He is becoming involved with the offense more and more every week. He wasn’t just doing well on the ground, he was a threat in the passing game as well. Gibbs finished with eight carries with 36 yards and a touchdown, along with six catches for 59 yards.
Gibbs being more involved with the offense gives Goff another weapon to throw in the passing game. It also takes the pressure off of fellow running back David Montgomery as he doesn’t need to be the main bellcow and feature back on the team. If Montgomery can get more rest time on the sidelines, he will be able to handle more of the hits he takes.
Going up against his former team, David Montgomery sure knew how to leave his mark. Montgomery had a strong final drive for the offense, finishing the drive with a one-yard touchdown drive to give the Lions the lead, 27-26. On that drive, Montgomery had 45 yards of offense, sealing it with that touchdown run.
OH. MY. GOODNESS.— Tony Dombrowski (@tonydombrowski) November 19, 2023
TOUCHDOWN DAVID MONTGOMERY AGAINST HIS FORMER TEAM. TOUCHDOWN DETROIT LIONS. WE HAVE THE LEAD. WE MADE THE COMEBACK. @MontgomerDavid
LET’S GOOOOOOOOO ‼️#OnePride
Montgomery finished the game with a team-high 12 carries for 76 yards and the touchdown. Nothing is better than defeating your former team in any sport. With how successful Montgomery has been in Detroit, him being the person to put the nail in the coffin against his former team had to feel good.
After having an impressive first few games of his rookie season, defensive back Brian Branch had a big impact on the game for the Lions' defense. In classic Branch style, he wasn’t just excelling in pass coverage or stopping the run, he did it all. Branch finished the game with six tackles, three tackles for loss, and a pass deflection. He started the game by getting to Fields in a blitz and contributing to the run defense.
Later in the game, Fields tried to test Branch through the air and once again, Branch made a play as he almost intercepted the pass that was thrown to wide receiver D.J. Moore. On the last field goal by the Bears, Branch got pressure and almost blocked it too. Branch was one of the few players who came to play this week and it showed, even if he was tagged for a couple of ticky-tack penalties.
Amon-Ra St. Brown
Another week where St. Brown was one of the biggest factors for the offense. He led the team in catches and yards with eight catches for 77 yards and a touchdown. The offense was struggling to move the ball through the air as the Bears defense was getting pressure on quarterback Jared Goff throughout the game, and the coverage by the Bears was tight. St. Brown also had some short-yardage completions where his legs did more of the work after catching the football. It doesn’t matter though, St. Brown was the most reliable receiver Goff was able to throw to all game long.
The past few weeks have been quiet for the former first-round pick, but this week, Hutchinson made a clutch play when the Lions needed it most. He was going up against rookie right tackle Darnell Wright all game long and for the most part, Wright did a good job in containing Hutchinson. When it mattered most though, Wright faltered under the pressure from Hutchinson as he allowed a sack, and fumble, and he kicked the football in the end zone for a safety.
Aidan Hutchinson puts the game away pic.twitter.com/TyS3nn4qgm— Erik Schlitt (@erikschlitt) November 19, 2023
Hutchinson was very smart on that play, as instead of hitting Fields for a sack and possibly ending the game, he hit the ball as he hit Fields, forcing the fumble. Then while the ball was rolling around, he pushed Wright to try and get him down, but it helped force Wright to kick the ball out of the end zone for the safety to make it a five-point game. Hutchinson finished with six tackles and a sack—his first since the game against the Carolina Panthers.
So far this season, the first-round linebacker has shown flashes of being what the team is looking for in a linebacker. He hasn’t exploded onto the scene, but he has contributed well. This week, though, Campbell had his worst game of his rookie season as he just seemed out of place all game long. He wasn’t able to wrap up on tackles multiple times, and one time he was juked out by Fields and he looked silly.
Coming out of college, Campbell was known as a solid tackler and someone who could take anyone down. This week, Campbell played like a rookie and with how he is as a football player, I expect him to learn a lot from this week's film and rebound next week.
Containing Justin Fields
This season when the Lions have taken on scrambling quarterbacks, they have done well in limiting their rushing ability, but it’s because they are making the quarterback throw. They are eliminating any threat of scrambling and while that makes sense, it hasn’t worked out well for them so far. This week against the Bears, the Lions seemed to have adjusted their ways of attacking scrambling quarterbacks by letting Fields run, but they are doing a poor job at limiting his legs.
The Bears ran RPO and read-option plays to get Fields open in space, and the few times Fields dropped back to pass, he was able to escape pressure. Fields was the Bears’ leading rusher with 18 carries for 104 yards. The Lions changed up their method but still didn’t have any quarterback spies. The defensive edge rushers did a poor job in accounting for Fields on the read options as they ran toward the running back a majority of the time.
While the Lions struggled with containing Fields on the ground, cornerback Jerry Jacobs was getting targeted heavily in the passing game, and for the right reasons if you are a Bears fan. Jacobs was tasked with covering Moore, the Bears’ No. 1 wide receiver and he didn’t do well in covering him as he was open throughout the game. Moore finished with seven catches for 96 yards and a touchdown.
Moore beat Jacobs deep on a 39-yard touchdown pass from Fields as he simply ran right by Jacobs. Like last week against the Chargers, Jacobs was matched up with their best wide receiver Keenan Allen and he got destroyed all game long. Jacobs isn’t a bad cornerback, but he shouldn’t be given the task to try and shut down the opponent's best wide receiver because he can’t handle it.
After having a dominant game against the Chargers the week before, Goff had a rough outing, as he finished going 23-for-35 for 236 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. The first interception Goff threw wasn’t on him, as tight end Sam LaPorta ran into a defender and Goff threw the ball where LaPorta should have been. The second interception he threw, though, was all on Goff as he stared down his receiver and while under pressure, threw a bad ball that the defense was able to read and intercept.
The good thing for Goff this week was that despite his struggles, he didn’t need to have his best game to win the game. The run game went up against one of the best rush defenses in the NFL in the Bears, and they did well with 22 carries for 115 yards and two touchdowns. The defense, while struggling early on in the game, got a turnover in the first half to make it a short field for the offense to work with and they would score on the drive.
Goff was able to finish the game strong with an 11-play game-winning drive in the fourth quarter to give the Lions a 29-26 lead with 29 seconds left. If he would have played better earlier in the game, he wouldn’t have needed to make a big drive like that to win the game. I give him credit for pulling out that to win the game, but he put the team in that spot to begin with and thankfully he got them out.
In what has been a great rookie season so far for LaPorta, he had his worst game of the season against the Bears. LaPorta only had three catches for 18 yards, along with a two-point conversion catch. On the first interception thrown by Goff, he was expecting LaPorta to be in a certain space, but LaPorta ran right into a defender, which left the ball right into the hands of the Bears defense.
Later in the game, Goff was looking for LaPorta while he was getting blitzed and once again him and Goff were not on the same page—almost leading to another interception. It didn’t help Goff wasn’t playing his best, but when your quarterback is having a rough game, you need to step up and try and help him out.
Like Goff, LaPorta stepped up later in the game and corrected his mistakes from earlier, but, like Goff, if he hadn’t made at least the first mistake, the game would have been different.