Five things to know about Lions 24-14 loss to Bears

In the first three losses, the Detroit Lions showed flashes on both sides of the ball, but never could put it all together. The team took a step backward in Chicago on Sunday with a 24-14 loss to the Chicago Bears.

Injuries played a factor but every team has injuries so that is not going to fly as an excuse.

The ugly loss was on everyone from Dan Campbell on down. 

Communication was a problem in the last-second loss to the Ravens the previous week so they worked on it last week, but it remained an issue all-around.

The Lions scored on a pair of touchdown passes from Jared Goff to Kalif Raymond in the second half, but it was too little too late. That always seems to be the case.

Five things to know about the loss:

  1. The Lions fumbled the ball twice in the red zone. Center Frank Ragnow appeared to snap the ball early, Goff was not looking for it and the Bears recovered in the first quarter. Then later in the half, Goff fumbled when sacked by Robert Quinn on Chicago’s 3-yard line. Khalil Mack recovered for the Bears.
  2. Instead of going for a field goal from the Bears’ 5-yard line on fourth-and-goal, the Lions went for it and Goff’s pass intended for D’Andre Swift was deflected and incomplete. Again late in the game with a fourth-and-one — and down by 10 points — instead of going for the field goal Goff threw an incomplete pass. Six points is six points. Not enough to win but enough to matter.  Goff finished 24 of 38 for 299 yards and no interceptions.
  3. Lions defense allowed too many chunk plays. Bobby Price, a safety just converted to corner, could not keep up. But it was not all on him.  Rookie Justin Fields completed 12 of 18 pass attempts for 215 yards with one interception.
  4. The Lions looked unprepared for the Bears. They didn’t know until Saturday that Justin Fields would start at quarterback but Campbell said earlier in the week he didn’t think Chicago’s offense would change no matter who got the nod. So, again, no excuse. Not to say Campbell and his staff don’t work hard, they certainly do. But along the way whether it’s on the players or the coaches the team did not look ready. They know they can’t get in a hole early and they were down 14-0 at the half.
  5. At 0-4 the Lions are at a critical point. Dan Campbell can’t lose the team. He has said all along the margin of error was small in part because the team is so young. 

NEXT UP: Lions (0-4) at Vikings (1-3) on Sunday, Oct. 10. The Vikings lost 14-7 to the Browns on Sunday.

Five things to know as Lions face Bears in Chicago

In the NFL losses are losses and then there was the last-second loss to the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday. That could be a tough one to get over for the Lions but they have no choice.

The Lions (0-2) face the Bears (1-2) at Chicago’s Soldier Field on Sunday.

“Between my coaching staff and myself, we’re just trying to preach the right things every day. You go back to work. It’s about being resilient. It’s about learning from your errors. It’s about not giving up,’’ coach Dan Campbell said this week. 

“It’s all of the things and I think that the veterans that we have here that have been retained or that we have brought in believe the way we believe. They’ve been winners in other programs and they know what it takes and I think while we’re bringing them along, particularly the young guys, I think their voices are beginning to get louder,’’ he added.

The Bears are coming off a 26-6 loss to Cleveland in quarterback Justin Fields’ first start.

Five things to watch: 

1. Fields will get his second start on Sunday. All week the Bears were mum about who would get the nod, but announced on Saturday it will be Fields. The rookie completed 6 of 20 pass attempts for 68 yards with zero touchdowns and zero interceptions in the loss to the Browns last week. He was sacked nine times for a loss of 67 yards. It was not pretty.

2. Trey Flowers (shoulder/knee) will miss his second straight game. It looked like he was trending to play but was officially declared out on Friday. Holding him out is not devastating because of the depth on the defensive line. “I think, to be honest with you, we’re in a pretty good place just depth-wise and it’s more – I just feel like if we are – this is the right thing for Trey, too, which in turn is also the right thing for us long-term,’’ Campbell said. “I think if we can get him back to where he’s feeling really good, I think in the long run, that’s going to be a good thing for him and for us.” DE Michael Brockers and OLB Romeo Okwara are both questionable due to shoulder injuries.

3. They say if you have three quarterbacks you really don’t have one. That’s an issue for the Bears but at least starting quarterback is not a problem for the Lions. Jared Goff has been steady in the opening three losses with five touchdowns, two interceptions and a 69.6% completion percentage. He’s had the offense rolling for stretches, but not a complete game yet. “I think we’re really close. It’s a constant, ‘How do we get better today? How do we get better the next day?’ It’s always that way, but you feel close, you always do and we have to do it,’’ Goff said. “We have to put it on the field, we have to do it on game day on Sundays and make it come to life. Yeah, I do feel like we’re close to doing that and putting four quarters together.”

4. Tight end T.J. Hockenson is the leading receiver in yards with 18 catches for 173 yards, but Campbell things Quintez Cephus could be ready for a breakout game.”I think he’s – you see things last week, though he didn’t get targeted as much, I thought he did some good things on tape. He’s getting there. I think (Amon-Ra) St. Brown is close. I think he’s due to have a game for us. He does a ton of dirty work for us. I think his opportunities are going to come. And so, there again, it’s got to happen,’’ Campbell said. “I think once one to two of those things happen, then there will be confidence in those players and then, in turn, in all of us. It helps the quarterback, helps us game plan, all of those things.”

5. While the 66-yard field goal crushed the Lions hopes of a win last week, it was the fourth-and-19 conversion that allowed that kick to happen. Campbell blamed lack of communication for the breakdown on that play so they worked on it in practice this week. “Everything that we talk about emphasizing has really shown up and you can hear it. You can hear the communication, you can see them talking, you can see the hand signals. We do pre-practice walkthroughs, we do walkthroughs before practice. So, we have a pre-practice, pre-practice, then a pre-practice,’’ Campbell said. “It has, it’s really shown up. Now, do we still make mistakes? We do, but the point is, the emphasis, and it is, it was better. I thought (Thursday)  was one of the best practices that we’ve had all year. I was encouraged. It was good.”

PREDICTION: Lions 24, Bears 10

Five reasons the Detroit Lions beat the Chicago Bears

In Darrell Bevell’s first game as Detroit Lions interim coach, the Lions made a fourth-quarter comeback to remember. Certainly, it will be one sweet memory for Bevell whose head was spinning after the game.

The Lions (5-7) snapped a two-game losing streak with a 34-30 win over the Bears at Chicago on Sunday. 

In the locker room afterward quarterback Matthew Stafford presented Bevell with the game ball.

“I think his energy is infectious and guys feed off of it and really appreciate him as a person and just happy to help us get the win today,’’ Stafford said. “Guys went out and played fast and free, it wasn’t perfect you know, there were plays we want back but never quit, never looked at the scoreboard, just kept playing, let it figure itself out and it did.’’

Detroit was down, 23-13, at the half. Bevell had a message for them.

“I just told them to continue to keep playing, don’t measure the game, play until there’s no time left on the clock and to continue to play with joy and enthusiasm we want them to play with and we’ll see what happens at the end,’’ Bevell said. “I think they did exactly that and good things happened.’’

It was the sixth straight loss for the Bears (5-7) who took the lead with their first possession and held on until late in the fourth quarter.

Turns out the Lions defense had a few huge plays left and Stafford did too. 

Five reasons the Lions won: 

1. Romeo Okwara, likely the Lions’ best defensive player this season, came up huge with a strip sack of Mitchell Trubisky with 1:37 left. He stripped the ball and John Pensini recovered it at the Bears’ 7-yard line. Two plays later Adrian Peterson ran over four Bears on his way to the end zone for what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown. Okwara’s play was obviously key. “To get that big play right there in that moment, it changed the whole momentum of the game. It was a cool play. … Just so happy for him, the defense and how they responded in the second half,’’ Bevell said.

2.  The offense appeared to open up a bit under Bevell who still made the play calls as he had as offensive coordinator. Even after Stafford missed on two deep balls, he went back deep to Quinten Cephus for a 49-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. “The game plan was kind of do what we normally do but let Matthew kind of take the game over a little bit,’’ Bevell told WJR. “Receivers, we felt good about that, mixing in the run game. The offensive line protecting him. Matt Nelson has to go in and play right tackle, a converted defensive lineman to go out there and play tackle and block Khalil Mack play in and play out.’’ Stafford finished completing 27 of 42 attempts for 402 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception and a 109.4 rating.

3. Stafford is no stranger to fourth-quarter magic. With 4:33 left, he drove the offense 96 yards down the field in 2:15, ending with a touchdown throw to Marvin Jones Jr. that put the Lions within 3 points of the Bears. Stafford now has 31 fourth-quarter comebacks, the most in the NFL since 2009. He tied with John Elway for the seventh-most in history. His 38 game-winning drives are the second-most in the NFL since 2009 and tie quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Johnny Unitas for the eighth-most in history. He did have one big hiccup. On the Lions’ first possession in the fourth, Stafford threw a side-arm pass and it was intercepted by a Bears’ defensive linemen. They were down 30-20, but obviously the game was not over. And Stafford said he kept his confidence because he felt he’d been in a good rhythm all game.

4. The Lions defense struggled in the first half, giving the Bears a 23-13 lead at the half. The Bears were held scoreless in the third. Chicago did run the ball practically at will finishing with 140 rushing yards but only 34 of those yards came in the second half. Before Sunday, the Bears had two rushing touchdowns in their first 11 games. They had three against the Lions

5. Bevell is a breath of fresh air. The emotion on the sideline was evident throughout the game, even though the Lions were losing for the first 58-plus minutes. In some of the most recent efforts, the sideline was dead. The game at Carolina stands out — the Lions were a team without a pulse. Bevell has injected much needed energy late in the season. So far it’s a winning formula

Next up: Green Bay Packers at Lions, 4:25 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 13.

(Photo courtesy of the Detroit Lions)