Lions stuff Bears, keep playoff hopes alive
Detroit — The Lions did what they needed to do to keep their playoff pulse alive, methodically dominating the Chicago Bears, 20-10, Saturday at Ford Field.
The Lions (8-6) were the better team on both sides of the ball, doing a particularly impressive job shutting down the Bears (4-10) on the ground. The last time the teams met, Chicago racked up more than 200 rushing yards, but it was held to 43 on Saturday.
“They did a lot of run blitzing and stuff like that, a lot of stuff to counter our runs,” Bears running back Jordan Howard said.
Detroit got points on the game’s opening possession, driving 47 yards with the help of an unnecessary roughness penalty against the Bears, which set up a 48-yard Matt Prater field goal.
After the teams traded punts, Prater extended Detroit’s first-quarter advantage to six with a 31-yard make.
Behind some impressive running by rookie running Tion Green, the Lions worked their way into the red zone, but quarterback Matthew Stafford missed high on a throw to tight end Eric Ebron in the end zone, leading to Prater’s field goal.
“I wish I had that one back, man,” Stafford said. “Check at the line, I got a good check to him and I just missed it. Frustrated at that one.”
While the Bears continued to spin their wheels on offense, the Lions broke it open with a big-play connection between Stafford and Marvin Jones. Facing third-and-18 after a holding call and blown-up screen pass, Stafford sliced through a pair of pass rushers and rolled out to his right, heaving a prayer to Jones.
With the cornerback camped under the high-arcing throw, Jones got to the spot just as the ball arrived, jumped and outmuscled the defender for the ball for the 58-yard gain.
“Yeah, he’s made some great ones for us,” Lions coach Caldwell said. “Those 50-50 balls, he finds a way to come up with it, get his body in position to go up and pull that thing down aggressively.”
Three plays later, on a designed rollout, Stafford found TJ Jones for a 3-yard touchdown, putting the Lions up 13-0.
Stafford completed 25 of his 33 throws, to eight receivers, for 237 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
It appeared that would be the score heading into the half, but running back Theo Riddick fumbled a handoff at the end of the second quarter, allowing the Bears to kick a field goal before the break and cut the lead to 13-3.
The Bears couldn’t capitalize on the momentum, quickly coughing the ball up early in the third quarter. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, rolling from the pocket, overthrew receiver Kendall Wright directly into the arms of cornerback Darius Slay, who managed to tap both feet in bounds for the interception.
“Our goal was to come out there and stop them,” Slay said. “I had, watching film, I saw it and I jumped it. It was either going to be an incomplete pass or a complete pass to me, so, I just made a play on it.”
After running back Ameer Abdullah made a tackler miss on a short third-down pass to extend the ensuing drive, Stafford found Ebron for an 8-yard touchdown. The throw was high, but the tight end climbed the ladder to make the grab, making it 20-3 after the PAT.
Ebron caught five passes in the victory, marking the fifth straight week he’s caught at least four balls after accomplishing that once in the first nine weeks.
“They’re putting a lot of trust into me and I’m just happy to be delivering,” Ebron said.
The Bears threatened to cut into the lead early in the fourth quarter, driving 59 yards to the Lions 5-yard line, but on third-and-goal, Trubisky was intercepted by safety Quandre Diggs in the end zone.
It was Diggs' second interception in as many weeks.
The Bears finally got into the end zone with 2:32 remaining, driving 92 yards in 13 plays. Trubisky found Benny Cunningham in the flat and the running back made a tackler miss to get into the end zone.
With Chicago driving in the game’s closing seconds, Slay sealed the victory with his second interception, taking advantage of miscommunication between Trubisky and tight end Daniel Brown.
The turnover was Slay’s league-leading seventh interception on the season.