'They were more ready': Bears bash defenseless Lions
Chicago — The score doesn't tell the story. For the third consecutive game, the Detroit Lions were thoroughly outplayed and embarrassed by the competition in a 34-22 loss to the Bears on Sunday.
It marked Detroit's third straight defeat by double digits, and once again, the team could offer little more than tired cliches to explain its sluggish start on offense and overall defensive ineptitude.
"Obviously they were just more ready to go than we were," Lions coach Matt Patricia said. "Can't say we were or we weren't. I thought we were. They just did a better job than we did on execution."
Chicago scored touchdowns on their first four possessions, jumping out to a 26-0 lead in the middle of the second quarter and abusing a secondary missing All-Pro cornerback Darius Slay.
Big plays were a big issue for Detroit, allowing eight pass plays of 20 or more yards.
"You can always pinpoint a few plays in the game where we allow big plays," linebacker Devon Kennard said. "The last couple weeks it might have been runs, this week it was more so passes. We get those under control and play consistently, I like where we stand."
After receiving the opening kickoff, the Bears needed eight plays to cross the goal line for the first of five times. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky completed all five of his throws on the drive, including a 35-yard slant to Allen Robinson, which set up Tarik Cohen’s 3-yard touchdown plunge.
Cody Parkey missed the PAT, part of a comically bad day for the Chicago kicker, which saw him miss two extra points and two field goals all off the upright.
The Lions responded by driving into Chicago territory and converting a fourth-and-2 en route, but were knocked out of field-goal range after quarterback Matthew Stafford was sacked on third down.
Stafford had another rough day, getting sacked six times by the Bears, one week after being dropped 10 times by the Vikings.
"It's a really good front," Stafford said. "I've got to do a better job getting the ball out faster to help those guys out."
Two long passes, a 27-yard completion to Robinson and a 20-yarder to tight end Ben Braunecker quickly put the Bears back in Lions’ territory. Robinson capped the drive catching a 36-yard deep pass down the right sideline, working against Slay’s replacement DeShawn Shead.
"I think we do a good job preparing, seeing what the other teams are doing, and they're doing exactly what we prepare for, but it just comes down to execution," Shead said.
After fullback Nick Bellore was stuffed on third-and-1, leading to another punt, the Bears connected on another big pass play. A blown coverage assignment allowed Anthony Miller to get open and safety Glover Quin missed an open-field tackle, clearing the way for the rookie receiver to race 45 yards for the score.
Parkey missed his second PAT, making it 19-0.
The Bears added one more touchdown in the second quarter after cornerback Bryce Callahan stepped in front of a Stafford pass intended for Marvin Jones and returned it to Lions' 18. After a series of penalties, including a pair against the Lions, Trubisky went up the gut on a designed run from four yards out.
Lions nose tackle Damon Harrison took the blame for not controlling his gap on the score.
"I ran up the field instead of settling down and squeezing back," Harrison explained on Twitter after the game. "Terrible situational awareness by me."
The Lions finally snapped the shutout late in the first half, driving 75 yards on 14 plays. Wide receiver Kenny Golladay got away with a fumble early in the possession thanks to a quick snap by Stafford negating a possible review.
A pass interference committed against Golladay in the end zone put the ball at the 1-yard line, and after LeGarrette Blount was stuffed twice, rookie runner Kerryon Johnson went up and over the pile to make it 26-7 at the half.
Detroit got it within two scores with a 52-yard Matt Prater field goal on the opening possession of the second half.
Parkey didn’t have the same success, missing a pair of field goals in the third quarter from 41 and 34 yards out, but the Lions couldn’t capitalize on the opportunities. That opened the door for the Bears to extend their advantage.
Taking over at midfield after the Lions went three-and-out, Trubisky need two throws, a 24-yarder to tight end Trey Burton and a 26-yard slant to Robinson for the receiver’s second touchdown of the day. That made it 34-10 with 2:57 to go in the third quarter.
Trubisky finished 23-for-30 passing for a career-high 355 yards and three touchdown throws.
"It would probably be one of my best games," Trubisky said. "Just felt really comfortable out there, thought the O-line played fantastic today and we got open on the outside and it was just me doing my job, sitting back there and getting the ball to the playmakers."
The Lions managed to narrow the margin of defeat in the fourth quarter with a pair of meaningless touchdowns. Golladay caught the first, from five yards out. And after Bellore recovered an onside kick, Johnson weaved through traffic on a short throw from Stafford for the back’s second touchdown on the day.
"I mean, we're fighting," Johnson said. "Nobody can say we're not fighting to the very end. The problem is we start off slow and the fight at the end doesn't matter."
Stafford finished 25-for-42 for 274 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, the second coming on a desperation heave to TJ Jones into triple coverage on a fourth-down play early in the fourth quarter.
Detroit failed to convert either two-point conversion, leaving them down 34-22 with 7:21 remaining. That was the end of the scoring.
The Lions, losers of three straight, will return home to face the Panthers next Sunday.
"Look, no one is going to feel sorry for us," Patricia said. "We've got a big game again this week, too. It's the National Football League. We've got to get ready to go and go back to work tomorrow."