Jeff Risdon, DLD Editor
Chicago came into Ford Field needing a win and some help to make the playoffs. They took care of their business, beating the Lions 26-24 thanks to four Detroit turnovers and a lot of field goals.
The opening kick return by Joique Bell went to the 33 yard line. Stefan Logan only passed that mark 6 times in 15 games.
Avril strip sack on Chicago’s 1st drive. Kyle VandenBosch had a chance for an easy recovery but tried to scoop and score, lost it back to the Bears.
On the Lions first scoring drive, Stafford and the offense looked good. He made a great throw to Tony Scheffler on the 1st play, then hit Calvin Johnson for a nice catch. Mikel Leshoure set up 3rd & 1 but the drive stalled. Enter Jason Hanson.
Hanson’s 44-yard field goal broke Morten Andersen’s record for most field goals from 40 yards or further in his career. I was a huge Morten Andersen fan and it thrilled me that Hanson is the guy to break that record.
Punt and kick coverage was very good all day. Kassim Osgood nailed the freakishly declined Devin Hester for a 1-yard loss after a strong punt by Nick Harris. Pat Lee tripped up Hester at the 13 on the next punt, but Osgood got an iffy penalty for not coming back in bounds in a prompt manner. Perhaps the official missed that Osgood was in fact being held out of bounds, but I digress…
Defense got a big stop by Levy on a screen pass to keep the Bears out of better field goal range. Olindo Mare then missed the 42-yard kick.
The two minute drill at the end of the first half was beautiful. Stafford used all sorts of imprudent arm angles to keep the chains moving, and he eventually hooked up with Kris Durham for the touchdown with 12 seconds left. It was the first time all day Stafford didn’t look asleep at the wheel. It was also a nice schematic design by OC Scott Linehan to get Durham isolated on Tim Jennings, who is about 7 inches shorter and had no prayer with a good throw.
By and large the linebackers were very good at reading and reacting quickly. Stephen Tulloch made a great open field tackle on a screen. There was one drive where Forte ripped off a couple of 10+ yard runs, but both were more a case of the defensive ends getting upfield too quickly and leaving a huge lane. Heard that before, no? Still, Tulloch was excellent ad showed why he’s an integral part of the team going forward.
I loved the scoring drive in the 3rd quarter, carrying over the momentum from the score just before halftime. Stafford was sharp, nailed Megatron on a sideline route. The TD throw to Will Heller was an absolute laser on yet another well-designed play, clearing out coverage for a size advantage isolation. On a related note, the Bears lack of size in their defensive back seven outside of Peanut Tillman jumps off the screen.
The Lions D was very good on 3rd down and in the red zone. Chicago was 2-for-9 on third down through three quarters (they finished 4-for-15) and one of the conversions was the pass interference in the end zone on Don Carey that prevented a touchdown (for one play). Three times the Bears took over inside the Detroit 25 and the defense held them to a field goal with no first downs.
Brandon Pettigrew returned. I admire his effort to get back and play, but he clearly wasn’t close to 100% and had little to offer.
But the biggest positive: THE SEASON IS OVER!
3 & out the first drive for the third week in a row. Stafford missed two of his first three throws 13 times in 16 games.
Chicago’s 1st play goes for 55 yards to Jeffery. Jay Cutler had enough time to brew a pot of coffee and read the business section before he threw.
On Chicago’s first touchdown we saw a microcosm of the defensive issues all season. Earl Bennett caught a simple screen that Kyle VandenBosch never sensed. A good block by Brandon Marshall forced DeAndre Levy under and he couldn’t catch Bennett. Ron Bartell couldn’t set the edge, and Louis Delmas took a horrible angle in containment pursuit.
Immediately after the Bennett TD, Bell fumbled the ensuing kickoff and set up the Bears at the Lions 24. Stefan Logan can do that, although he wouldn’t have made it to the 24.
Leshoure not seeing the hole on 2nd & 16 after Peterman penalty, tucked his head and stayed inside instead of bouncing wide left where contain was gone.
Stafford fumble on sack. Israel Idonije overpowers the seam between Peterman and Raiola and swipes the ball from Stafford. Julius Peppers pounced on it. Five plays later the Bears scored after Don Carey was guilty of pass interference and set up the Matt Forte 1-yard TD where the DL got pushed sideways by the embattled Chicago OL.
On the next Lions offensive series, Stafford throws a lazy ball right to Tim Jennings. He plays for the Bears, and he returned the ball 31 yards.
Johnson didn’t make it to 2000, and Stafford came up short of 5000.
Leshoure fumbling a handoff from Stafford. It was not the best handoff from Stafford but Leshoure failed to try and secure it adequately. Against a team like the Bears, ball security is the top priority. I know it was stressed in practice, but it didn’t carry onto the football field.
Once again the Wide-9 technique was easily beaten. What should be the death knell for that in Detroit was Jay Cutler’s 19 yard scamper on 3rd & 4 that kept the icing drive alive. Lawrence Jackson was 7 yards behind Cutler when he took off through the hole, and contain man Andre Fluellen was double-teamed inside because the Bears correctly knew their tackle could handle the wide 9 without help. Did I mention how much I loathe the Wide 9 technique on plays other than 3rd & long?
This is not a game Louis Delmas will want brought up in contract negotiations. Several times he took poor angles in attacking the run, and I counted at least three throws where he was the deep inside cover help but the receiver was behind him, often after blowing past Chris Houston. He missed a tackle diving at feet when a simple form tackle was at hand too. Given his injury issues and the periodic games like this, I don’t expect the Lions to do more than hit Delmas with the franchise tag and see if he responds next year.
On the coaching front, I do not expect a very Black Monday. I will be stunned if Schwartz is fired, as will the team. I do expect changes below Schwartz, notably ST Coordinator Danny Crossman and several defensive assistants. I put Gunther Cunningham’s fate at 80/20 he’s gone. If anything happens, check back here for my swift reaction.