Lions QB David Blough impressive in NFL debut despite loss to Bears

DETROIT — David Blough said Thanksgiving was what he dreamed about as a kid.

The Lions third-string quarterback started against the Bears in the nationally televised Thanksgiving game.

Although perhaps in his dreams, Blough was able to pull out the win. Instead on Thursday, the Lions lost 24-20 to Chicago.

Still, Blough — a rookie who had never played in an NFL regular season game — was impressive.

Ini his first drive, after throwing a short incompletion to T.J. Hockenson, he aired it out and connected with Kenny Golladay on a 75-yard touchdown pass play. It was his first of four passes for 158 yards to Golladay.

Welcome to Detroit, David Blough.

On his second drive he took the offense 75 yards down the field, wrapping it up with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Marvin Jones Jr. 

“Even though it was a short week, we all had a lot of confidence in him. He had a chip on his shoulder during the week. He was very confident,’’ Golladay said. “He even told (Matt Patricia) Matty P, ‘I’m ready to rip it.’ He definitely stepped-up to the challenge. I’m proud of him.”

Blough, who was undrafted out of Purdue, signed as a free agent in June with Cleveland and came to Detroit in a trade following training camp. 

He finished the game 22 of 38 for 280 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and a 87.6 rating. 

“Going into it I felt comfortable and prepared. In the short week we had a great plan to go into the game and take our shots. We were hoping a guy like me could come in, throw some checkdowns. We were going to throw it around a little bit, credit that to (offensive coordinator Darrell) Bevell you saw how open Kenny was and made great plays, I think that’s where a lot of the credit belongs in the quick start for us.’’

Driskel, who started the previous three games, was bothered by a hamstring since the loss to the Redskins on Sunday. Bough found out on Wednesday night before team meetings that he would be the starter. 

“I had been getting a lot of the reps in the walk-throughs and practices leading up to this week I was ready to go,’’ Blough said. “I prepare every week to play on the field it just so happened it was done on a short week, Matthew has been out, a couple different twists and turns. They told me last night and I was pretty excited.’’

He said one of the best things about his day was all the support he received from the coaches and teammates.

“I just wanted to give everything that I had and the guys lifted me up. It was incredible to have the veterans, to have (Danny) Amendola, the guys just come around me and, ‘Hey, we have your back.’ That was encouraging to me as a guy who’s just been here 10 or 11 weeks or whatever it is, to know that I had those guys in my corner,’’ Blough said. “That was special.”

Detroit Lions defense falters again in Thanksgiving loss to Bears

DETROIT — David Blough, the Detroit Lions’ third-string quarterback played beyond most expectations but once again Detroit’s defense came up short.

Blough, in for the injured Jeff Driskel, threw touchdown passes on his first two drives to give the Lions a one-touchdown lead.

Still the Bears came back and beat the Lions, 24-20, on Thanksgiving at Ford Field.

Coach Matt Patricia said he loves the fight he sees in his bunch and their toughness, but it is not enough.

“This is one of the toughest teams I’ve probably ever been around, this team fights like no other team I’ve ever seen we have to find a way to win, we have to find a way to break through that thing that’s stopping us right now and smash that and get going,’’ Patricia said. “… Obviously the goal is to win and that’s what we have to get done and we will, we’re building toward that and working toward that every single day.’’

The Lions have lost five straight, eight of their last nine, are 3-8-1 and are officially out of playoff contention.

“I think a lot of it is obviously the tangible thing is the mistakes in the game that we have to eliminate, we have to push through and make a couple more plays or coach a couple things better, get that cleaned up,’’ Patricia said.

Safety Tracy Walker said Patricia’s message to the team was that they can’t settle for losses. “So we are just going to continue to try to improve and continue to correct the mistakes we made,’’ Walker said.

The Lions were up 17-10 at the half, but the Bears scored touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters. On the first Mitchell Trubisky passed 18 yards  to tight end Jesper Horsted for the score. It was just Horsted’s second catch all season and his first touchdown. Will Harris was on the coverage.

With 6:40 left in the game, and the Lions leading 20-17, the Bears’ 90-yard touchdown drive included passses of 35 and 32 yards to Anthony Miller, it was capped with a 3-yard touchdown pass to David Montgomery. 

That gave the Bears a 24-20 lead. 

Blough and the Lions’ offense had 2:12 left but couldn’t get the ball in the end zone.

Trubisky has struggled much of the season except in the two wins against the Lions. He’s thrown 13 touchdown passes all season, six of them against the Detroit defense including three on Thanksgiving.

He wasn’t pressure much all day.

“He was throwing the ball fairly fast, got rid of the ball. They out-executed (us) on a lot of different things like that. We just weren’t able to bring him down a lot of times,’’ defensive end Trey Flowers said. “He’s definitely a guy that’s dynamic with his feet, so he’s able to make a few plays, escape the pocket and continue to scramble.”

Flowers sacked Trubisky on a third-and-7 early in the fourth for a loss of 7 yards forcing the Bears to punt.

Chicago had a better second half which has been the case most of the season with Lions’ opponents. Detroit has been outscored 105-70 in the fourth quarter. 

“The quarterback kind of extended a lot of plays and made a lot of plays on the run. We have to do better in the back end, extending plays, finding our guys, plastering around,’’ said cornerback Darius Slay who intercepted Trubisky. “What they did was extend plays, and they overall just were controlling the game almost.”

Lions backup David Blough will start against Bears on Thanksgiving

ALLEN PARK — Lions backup quarterback Jeff Driskel seemed optimistic on Tuesday that he would start against the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving. However, his hamstring will keep him out of the starting role.

David Blough, a rookie who has never played in an NFL regular season game, will get the start for the Lions at Ford Field.

Blough, who played at Purdue, was signed as an undrafted free agent last June by the Cleveland Browns and then was traded to Detroit. Driskel is expected to serve as the backup. Matthew Stafford (back) will miss his fourth straight game.

Thanksgiving spirits might not be so bright since the Lions (3-7-1) have lost four straight and seven of their last eight. They’ll face the Chicago Bears (5-6) for the second straight year 

Ready or not, they’ll be the only NFL game on national TV at 12:30 p.m.

For us, we’re going to obviously try and go out and play as hard as we can. We know how important this game is, we know how important it is to our organization, our ownership and obviously the fans,’’ coach Matt Patricia said. “It’s a great privilege to be in this game. For us, we understand that, we’re very blessed to be here, I think Thanksgiving is a great time, a great week to reflect.’’

Five things to watch:

1. Certainly don’t know what to expect from Blough, although seems likely the run game will need to carry the offense. 

2. Running back Bo Scarbrough has been the highlight of the past two weeks. From the practice squad two weeks ago he has had games of 55 and 98 rushing yards. Although now defenses know to prepare for him. “It’s kind of why you just hesitate to have too many conversations about those guys and not help opponents figure out who they are ahead of time. You try to let the opponents figure it out on their own. Certainly, I think you watch Bo run and some of the things that he did last week, he’s running really hard,’’ Patricia said. The big back (6-foot-1, 235 pounds) has five more games to prove himself. He could be the answer to the question of who will back up Kerryon Johnson next season. 

3. Lions linebacker Devon Kennard thinks the defense is showing signs of improvement in recent weeks (despite four straight losses), especially against the run. But overall the defense has been ineffective and is a big reason the Lions have lost seven of the last eight. If they are close to turning it around, Thanksgiving would be a good start especially with Blough starting at quarterback.

4. Chicago’s Mitchell Trubisky leads the NFL’s 29th best offense averaging just 269.3 yards per game. The quarterback has thrown just 10 touchdown passes in 10 games and three of them were in the first matchup with the Lions — one each to Ben Braunecker, Tarik Cohen and Taylor Gabriel. He was sacked five times by the Lions in that game — perhaps a little more of that type of pressure could be applied.

5. Patricia and the players have talked a good game this week. They say they’re focused solely on the Bears and they take the season one game at a time. There’s been a lot of talk in Detroit from fans who are beyond frustrated at the lack of wins. Some of them want Patricia and/or GM Bob Quinn fired. Fans didn’t seem to expect that the Lions, who were 9-7 in 2017, would fall so low in an effort to rebuild. On Thursday at Ford Field, the team has to show the focus they discuss and they need to do it in all four quarters.

PREDICTION: Bears 23, Lions 10. Not sure the Lions can pull it together.

(Photo courtesy of the Detroit Lions)

Detroit Lions: Ten best Thanksgiving Day games

This will be 80th Lions’ Turkey Day game

ALLEN PARK — Thanksgiving has been special for the Lions for 80 years.

When they meet the Chicago Bears at Ford Field, it will be the 17th meeting between the rivals on Thanksgiving. It started in 1934, the Lions’ first game on Thanksgiving.

In some years, the game plays a pivotal role in the season. This week? Not so much. The Lions (3-7-1) are still licking their wounds after a 19-16 loss at the Redskins on Sunday. The Bears (5-6) haven’t exactly lit up the NFC North either. A year ago, the Bears beat the Lions 23-16 on Thanksgiving.

This list of 10 of the most memorable Thanksgiving games was assembled a few years ago. It still stands:

1. Nov. 22, 1962, Lions 26, Packers 14 —  Roger Brown, the Lions defensive tackle, remembers this game like it was yesterday. The Packers were 10-0 and had beaten the Lions seven weeks earlier. The Lions wanted revenge and got it big-time. Brown sacked Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr seven times. Sacks weren’t an official NFL stat, but they were recorded. Starr was 11 of 19 for 49 yards and minus-6 yards rushing on four carries.

2. Nov. 26, 1970, Lions 28, Raiders 14 —  The Lions fell behind 14-0, then the late Charlie Sanders went to work. The tight end’s first touchdown — a pass from Greg Landry — was the most memorable.  “If you actually look at it you can actually see my fingernails gripping the ball. It didn’t hit in the palm of my hand, it was being gripped by my fingernails. If you look at that, if you are teaching technique, that would not be the technique,’’ Sanders said in the book “Game of My Life Detroit Lions.” The Lions won the next five games and got into the playoffs. They lost 5-0 to Dallas, the eventual Super Bowl winner, in the first round.

3. Nov. 25, 1976. Lions 27, Bills 14 — This was the O.J. Simpson show. The Buffalo running back ran for 273 yards and two touchdowns but the rest of the Bills offense only contributed 49 yards at the Silverdome. Lions quarterback Greg Landry threw touchdown passes of 21 yards and 24 yards to David Hill. Simpson’s touchdowns came late in the game after the Lions had grabbed a 20-0 lead.

4. Nov. 23, 1978 Lions 17, Broncos 14 —  The Broncos were heavily favored but Detroit’s defensive line was ready with a new coach, Floyd Peters, who stressed aggressive play. Defensive tackle Doug English remembers he had four sacks of quarterback Craig Morton. Stats were not an official NFL stat at the time, but there was no question that the D-line made sure it would not be Morton’s best Thanksgiving. The Lions scored on two rushing touchdowns (Rick Kane and Horace King) and a Benny Ricardo field goal. It was quarterback Gary Danielson’s best day but he did enough to get the win.

5. Nov, 28, 1991, Lions 16, Bears 6 —  This might have been one of the more emotional games. It was played 11 days after a freak on-field incident paralyzed guard Mike Utley who was in the hospital watching the game. Before the game Utley’s teammate Lomas Brown read a message on national television: “You’re still as big a part of this team as you ever were. Keep the faith.’’ The Lions defense intercepted Bears quarterback Jim Harbaugh four times and recovered two Bears’ fumbles.

6. Nov. 23, 1995, Lions 44, Vikings 38 — The last time the Lions played the Vikings on Thanksgiving, quarterback Scott Mitchell had a career afternoon completing 30 of 45 passes for 410 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Brett Perriman caught two and Herman Moore and Johnnie Morton each had one. Barry Sanders’ 138 rushing yards included a 50-yard scamper for a touchdown that was possible thank to downfield blocks from Morton and Moore. Minnesota’s Warren Moon had a big day too with 384 passing yards, three touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. The Lions were 5-6 entering the game and won the remaining games in their schedule to finish 10-6 earning a wild-card playoff berth. 

7. Nov. 26, 1998, Lions 19, Steelers 16 OT — How many games are known for the overtime coin toss? That’s certainly what set this one apart. When the captains at the center of the field, referee Phil Luckett asked the visiting Steelers to make the coin toss in the air to determine who would have possession. Jerome Bettis said “tails” — it was clear —, but Luckett heard “heads”, and when the coin came up tails, he awarded the ball to the Lions. The Steelers and Bettis argued but Luckett would not change. The Lions got possession, Charlie Batch and Barry Sanders got them down the field. Jason Hanson kicked the game-winner. It was not the Steelers’ best Thanksgiving.

8. Nov. 24, 2011, Packers 27, Lions 15 — The outcome for this one isn’t remembered as much as Ndamukong Suh’s misdeed. In the third quarter he pushed Green Bay’s Evan Dietrich-Smith’s head into the turf and then stomped on his upper right arm. Afterward Suh claimed he was trying to get his balance and it wasn’t intentional. The NFL thought otherwise and he was suspended for two games.

9. Nov. 22, 2012, Texans 34, Lions 31 OT —  Lions coach Jim Schwartz let his emotions get the best of him and possibly cost his team the game. In the third quarter, Houston’s running back Justin Forsett (who is now with the Lions)  went straight up the gut, looked like he got tackled with his left knee and left elbow on the turf. But he got up and kept going 81 yards into the end zone. The Lions didn’t chase him because they thought he was down and they were right. Even though all scoring plays are reviewed, Schwartz was so hot that he threw the red review flag which at the time prevented a replay due to NFL rules. The Lion were up by 10 before that Forsett touchdown. It took the wind out of their sails. Matthew Stafford was 31 of 61 for 441 yards, two touchdowns

10. Nov. 26, 2015, Lions 45, Eagles 14 — Matthew Stafford threw for five touchdowns with three of them landing in the mitts of Calvin Johnson. It was the third straight win for Detroit after Jim Bob Cooter had taken over as offensive coordinator, bringing their record to 4-7. Ziggy Ansah was on fire with 3.5 sacks (a career high) and a recovered fumble on the Eagles’ 14-yard line. Coach Jim Caldwell called it their most complete win.

Honorable mentions: In 2000, Patriots backup quarterback Tom Brady saw his first NFL action. He was one of three for six yards when the Lions won 34-9. … In 1997’s 55-20 rout of the Bears, Barry Sanders had 19 carries for 167 yards and three touchdowns. … In 2004, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning threw six touchdown passes in a 41-9 beatdown of the Lions. It was the start of a nine-game losing streak on Thanksgiving. … In 2006, Dolphins quarterback Joey Harrington threw for three touchdowns in a 27-10 win. When he was with the Lions, Harrington was 1-3 with zero touchdowns on Thanksgiving.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

Lions LB Devon Kennard believes in Matt Patricia and the process, despite results

ALLEN PARK — Devon Kennard doesn’t listen to all the “noise” in this town concerning the 3-7-1 Lions, their coach Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn.

The volume was cranked up after the Lions lost to the lowly Washington Redskins on Sunday, still Kennard is a believer in Patricia and remains focused on Thursday’s game against the Chicago Bears (5-6). The Lions’ linebacker said he’s learned a lot of football since he came to Detroit last season.

“It hasn’t been a good season so far. I’m a firm believer, I’m riding with (Patricia) until the wheels fall off and that’s my mentality,’’ Kennard said on Monday evening.

His focus is on the Bears, not on the season as a whole. 

“It’s obviously where we’re at, but I’m not the type to be in the middle of the season and be jumping ship,’’ Kennard said. “I’m trying to win a game, I’m trying to win on Thursday, all that other talk and all of that, that’s noise. I think it’s disrespectful to the game to be worried about that kind of stuff. Got a big game on Thursday —  it’s a big thing for fans, this organization to be thinking about anything else but how we’re going to stop losing and how we’re going to get a big win on Thursday. That’s where our minds need to be.’’

In the first meeting two weeks ago, the Bears (5-6) defeated the Lions 20-13. The Lions have lost four straight and seven of their last eight. 

Kennard starting smiling just thinking about the possibility of a win on Thursday.

“It will feel really good. You won’t see me monotone if we get a freaking win I’ll be feeling good. I think it will be a good start it’s one win, you can’t look at anything bigger than that,’’ Kennard said. “It will feel great right now especially on Thursday against a really good team that we’ve lost to a bunch since I’ve been here. Being able to get that win will be huge.’’

Patricia, who is 9-17-1 in his first two seasons, said he’s always disappointed when they don’t win. He’s a competitive guy.

The coach also says this is all a process. 

I know there’s a lot in play here that we’re going through, and we’re trying to build, and we’re trying to do the best we can to improve and get better,’’ Patricia said. “Sometimes, for us, we try to just stay on (the) task at hand for the week. It’s one-week seasons for us. On top of that, we’re looking at other things as far as the development of some of the younger players and the guys that are out there and just how those – even the guys that have been around for a while are improving and going through and learning and improving. For us, it’s just part of the process as we go forward.”

Kennard, who had a sack and a forced fumble in the loss to the Redskins, sees improvement in the defense.

“I actually think the last few weeks there’s been some things we’ve done better. I feel like we’ve stopped the run better the last few weeks — that’s something that’s frustrating me a lot early in the season and I feel like we’re playing better ball when it comes to that,’’ Kennard said. “That needs to continue. That’s a start for me personally and us getting things where we want them, we have to pick up in other areas. I know penalties are killing us, third down is killing us defensively. Those are things we need to address and get fixed.’’

Five things to know about Lions brutal 19-16 loss to Redskins

It looked gloomy for the Detroit Lions, when the lowly Redskins took a 13-3 lead in the first half. It had been an ugly road start for the Lions on Sunday.

It got worse.

Detroit took its first lead, 16-13, early in the fourth quarter. The Redskins kicked a field goal to tie it. Then with 54 seconds remaining, Lions quarterback Jeff Driskel threw an interception, the Redskins marched 53 yards downfield and Dustin Hopkins kicked a 39-yard field goal to grab the 19-16 win.

It was a sloppy game for the Lions who have lost four straight and seven of their last eight. Their last win was on Oct. 27 when they beat the Giants. Seems like a long time ago.

It doesn’t get easier. They host the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving and then play at the Vikings on Dec. 8.

Driskel, in his third start for the injured Matthew Stafford, has shown growth and his athleticism running the ball helped too. His inexperience, though, was a factor in his three interceptions.

Detroit’s defense deserves plenty of blame. 

Five things to know about the loss:

1. The loss is yet another gut punch in a horrid season. A win would have helped with the Lions’ confidence and spirits especially with a quick turn-around to play on Thanksgiving. The Redskins had only won once, their rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins was starting just his third game. Detroit’s injuries don’t count. Every team has to deal with them. The Redskins are 2-9, pretty much a laughingstock. There is no reason the Lions should have lost and yet they did.

2. Once again the Lions’ defense faded late. The Redskins’ offense struggled until their final two drives. The defense, which has struggled big-time this season, did not allow a touchdown and held the Redskins to 230 total yards. Washington’s only score came on a 91-yard touchdown return by Steven Sims. Jr. But when it counted late in the game, the Redskins were able to pick up precious yards and the win.

3. Don’t put this loss all on Driskel’s shoulders. The late interception was brutal, but the Lions should have been all over this Washington team from the get-go. Driskel was sacked six times, but the young quarterback showed moxie and finished 20 of 33 for 207 yards with three interceptions. Also he carried the ball nine times for 63 yards. No clue if Stafford will be ready to play on Thursday.

4. Running back Bo Scarbrough came up just 2 yards short of 100, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. He was held to 24 yards in the first half and lost a fumble, but came out hot to start the second half. He’s been quite a find for the Lions. Looking for a bright spot on this team? Look at Bo.

5. Matt Patricia has preached about limiting penalties. The Lions weren’t called for a single penalty in the first half, but finished with six for 65 yards. All the other miscues were costly too. Not only Driskel’s three interceptions, but Scarbrough’s lost fumble, Matt Prater missed a 39-yard field goal, special teams allowed a 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. The list is long, too long.

NEXT UP: The Lions (3-7-1) will host the Bears (5-6) on Thanksgiving. The Bears defeated the Giants, 19-14, on Sunday. In Chicago two weeks ago, the Lions lost to the Bears, 20-13. The Lions are 2-3 at Ford Field.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

Lions’ QB Matthew Stafford has no plans to shut down for the season

ALLEN PARK — Matthew Stafford said shutting down for the season has not been discussed. 

“This is what I do. I understand your question, this is what I love to do, I love playing football,’’ Stafford said on Wednesday.

The Detroit Lions quarterback, who is dealing with a back injury (he offered no specifics) has missed two straight games. Stafford would not rule himself out for Sunday at the Washington Redskins, but he didn’t practice on Wednesday and it seems unlikely he will get the green light.

“I appreciate all the hard work that all the guys in this locker room and in this organization put into going out there and trying to win games on Sunday and I love being a part of it,’’ Stafford said. “It’s tough for me to sit there without the pads on and not be able to impact the game on the field like I’m used to doing. That’s driving me to get back out there when we all deem it’s the right time.’’

When he is healthy he will be back. No consideration will be given to his future health or the fact the Lions are 3-6-1.

“I think for me if I’m healthy enough to go play I’m going to go play. Every time I step out on a football field the next week, the next play, the next year’s health is in question because it’s a violent game, I understand that,’’ Stafford said.

He repeatedly said he’s doing everything to get back out there as soon as possible.

“It’s not just myself going through it, there’s a bunch of people looking into it, a bunch of people going in on the decision on when is the best time for me to come back,’’ said Stafford who was injured late in the loss at Chicago on Nov. 10.

In the first nine games, he had thrown for 2,499 yards with 19 touchdowns and five interceptions. 

“I was having a blast out there playing and it’s obviously just difficult to not be out there,’’ Stafford said.