Lions' first-half observations: Red-zone turnovers devastating vs. Bears
Detroit News contributor Nolan Bianchi offers his first-half observations as the Lions take on the Bears at Soldier Field.
Justin Fields' first-career start against the Browns last week gave some the idea that the Lions would be able to take advantage of the young quarterback on this Sunday. Fields — who finished 6-for-20 with 68 passing yards and nine sacks against Cleveland — was hardly a focal point of the offense on Chicago's opening drive, and it made every bit of difference in opening up the entire offense.
David Montgomery rushed for 31 yards on six carries and Damien Williams 14 yards on two, as Fields completed all three of his passes for a total of 29 yards. The Bears found success on just about every snap they ran, and it resulted in a 12-play, 75-yard scoring drive to put Detroit's defense on its heels — and that paid dividends on the next drive.
The Bears took over after a fumble recovery at its own 10, the Lions buckled up Montgomery for a loss of 1. But that just opened up the secondary for a 64-yard completion to Mooney on the next play, and a few plays later, the Bears were in the end zone again.
The Lions were able to force a three-and-out after a turnover on downs inside the Bears 5, and then Amani Oruwariye came up with an interception with 1:01 to go in the first half after a ball was batted at the line. If Detroit's defensive line can continue to be effective in a variety of ways, the defense at large should have a chance.
Dead zone offense
The score didn't show it, but the Lions offense was right there with Chicago's in the first half. Detroit picked up 11 first downs, rushed for 71 yards, and amassed 143 yards as a whole.
The difference was red-zone efficiency — the Lions had none.
On the opening drive, Frank Ragnow snapped the ball early, it bounced off Lions quarterback Jared Goff, over the offensive line, and right into the hands of a Bears defender.
On the next one, the Lions had it first-and-goal at the 5, and ended up turning the ball over on downs after a fourth-down attempt was batted away.
And then for the Bears' final trick, Robert Quinn got around the left-side edge for a strip-sack that would end another Lions trip to the red zone toward the end of the first half.
How can the Lions reverse their fortune?
Well, starting the second half on offense will help.
After a devastatingly slow start to the game, the Lions can make up all of their bad juju and put a shiver up Chicago's spine with a quick score to open the second half — similar to how it did against Baltimore a week ago. The Bears have gone three straight offensive series without any points, and while Fields has shined thus far, a little bit of pressure on the rookie quarterback could force him to crack a bit, especially with the interception fresh in his mind.
To do that, though, it'll have to be a complementary effort. The Lions haven't worked the Bears' shaky offensive line nearly as much as they should have, and a sack or any other type of forced mistake will go along way toward creeping back into this game.
Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.