Detroit — Lions rookie linebacker Jarrad Davis let the Bears know this time around was going to be different.
On Chicago’s first rushing attempt of the game, Davis blew up the hole and dropped Bears running back Jordan Howard for no gain.
It was a forceful message that ignited a stellar run-stuffing performance in Detroit’s dominating 20-10 victory Saturday at Ford Field.
“I mean, every game you got to set the tone,” said Davis, who finished with six tackles. “You got to come out and you got to not so much to let them know, but to let yourself know and let your own defense know that you got to come out and really shut things down, especially in the run game.
“If they would've got that started, we would've been guessing on what they're doing, when they're going to do it. That would've made our D-coordinator T.A. (Teryl Austin) job a lot harder. We just knew we needed to come out and shut the run down.”
The Lions limited the Bears to 43 yards on the ground and 2.9 yards per carry, Chicago’s third-lowest rushing output of the season.
It was a far cry from the teams’ first meeting in Week 11 when the Bears racked up 222 yards rushing and averaged 7.4 yards per carry, the bulk coming from Howard’s 125-yard outing.
“Stopping the run, we took that as a challenge because last time they ran the ball all over our defense and that's something we couldn't live with,” defensive tackle Akeem Spence said. “That was eating at us.”
In the rematch, it was the Lions who were feasting as they flew around the field and aggressively filled their run gaps. It resulted in Howard being held to 37 yards on 10 carries — with 16 of those yards coming on one carry — and forced the Bears to put the ball in rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky’s hands.
The plan worked to perfection as Trubisky threw for 314 yards on a season-high 46 pass attempts but had three interceptions and was unable to catch the defense off guard with any read option plays.
“Being able to run and being able to stop the run is more of a pride thing,” Davis said. “If you let a team come out and run the ball then you let them control the game, you let them control things from a physicality standpoint. We're not a team that likes to get out-physicaled, so we knew we had to come out and really bring it to them.”
Davis added it helped seeing the same team a second time because he was able to pick up on some of Chicago’s tendencies from the first encounter, which played a vital role in him knowing where he needed to look and where he needed to be on every play.
For a much-maligned unit that surrendered over 100 yards rushing each of the past five games, Saturday’s showing was a much-needed shot in the arm that can hopefully add some steam to the Lions’ playoff push with two weeks to go.
“We definitely wanted to show we could stop the run against Chicago and we did that. But that's every week that we want to do that, it's not just one week,” Spence said. “We just got to keep playing lights out as a defense and not get comfortable because now we're at the time where we need to be playing good defense, team defense.
“We got to take this to Cincinnati and keep it going."