Quick Game Comments: Bears at Lions 12/11/16

Defense

  • The Bears came out playing man to man defense.  The Lions did a good job of passing against it.
  • Matthew Stafford came out ready to play.  He was accurate, he got rid of the ball quickly and on time.
  • I was also impressed with Stafford’s mobility this game.  He did a nice job of avoiding the rush, all things considered as he made hay outside the pocket.
  • The Bears did a nice job of holding the defensive front early and they did a nice job of both stopping the run and getting pressure on Stafford.  The Lions offensive line is certainly nothing to write home about and the Bears did a nice job of taking advantage of that.
  • Leonard Floyd, in particular, really looked good today.  He and Akiem Hicks seemed to be living in the Lions offensive backfield.

Offense

  • Everyone wondered how Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin was going to attach Matt Barkely.  It became evident early on.  Though they mixed it up a bit, they blitzed him quite a bit the whole game.  He wasn’t perfect but I thought he handled it reasonably well all things considered.
  • The Bears response was to run the ball and stick with the short passing game and they didn’t do a bad job of it.  Eventually the Lions stacked the box and dared Barkley to beat them through the air.
  • The offensive line did a pretty good job of moving the Lions defensive front and the Bears found some success in the running game.  They protected Barkley pretty well despite the blitzing up until the fourth quarter when Barkley started to see a lot more pressure.
  • Having said that, I thought Barkley’s ball placement eroded a bit in the after the first quarter.
  • Barkley did a nice job early of getting the ball out quickly and accurately to the right receiver.  He also showed some all important pocket movement to find throwing lanes that we haven’t seen before.
  • Barkley tried hard to throw an interception when under pressure in the second half.  It reminded me a great deal of his first start.  He’s going to have to get out of the habit of just chucking the ball up every time he gets in trouble.

Miscellaneous

  • Spero Dedes and Solomon Wilcots were your announcers.  I don’t have a problem with these guys in that they are professional and clear.  They hit all of the high points and do a good job of describing the action.  But if you are waiting for those, “Gee, I’ve been watching football for forty years and I never thought of that” moments, you aren’t going to find many.  I didn’t learn much from them today.
  • Special teams were OK on both sides.
  • I like Josh Bellamy as an underdog well enough.  But I’m getting tired of watching him drop balls.  Having said that, it was really the Lions who dropped far too many balls today.  That, along with their penalties really hurt them.
  • The Jeff Triplette officiating crew held to form today, calling a lot of penalties as is their habit.  The Lions (7 for 55 yards) shot themselves in the foot with wit too many penalties at critical times and the man to man coverage that the Bears were running caused them to commit a number of damaging pass interference penalties that hurt them badly.  The had 11 total for 139 yards and a couple holding penalties on the final Bears drive in the fourth quarter were killers.
  • The Bears finally came up with a turnover as Demantre Hurst intercepted a ball in end zone in the fourth quarter with a big play.  That was follwed by a pick six by Cre’Von LeBlanc that put the Bears up 17-13 midway through the fourth quarter.  Now it has to go from being a miracle when they get one to something we see regularly.
  • This wasn’t the prettiest game you’ll see but the Lions clearly played better when it counted today.  The Bears had their chances and couldn’t get the job done.  Clearly learning to finish is one more thing that this team needs to do before they will climb out of the cellar to win more football games.

Quick Comments: Lions at Bears

Offense

  1. Brian Hoyer picked up where he left off last week going to tight end Zach Miller on the first play. That connection continued all game.
  2. Bears were apparently determined to run the ball. Jordan Howard doesn’t look like much but he certainly moves the pile and finishes the run, something we heard all offseason Jeremy Langford was trying to work on but which yielded few results.  The team averaged 4.1 ypc in the first half and they rarely lost yardage.  They finished the game with 4.5.
  3. The run game opened up the play action pass, which appeared to work well as the Lions were obviously concentrating on stopping the run.
  4. Interestingly, the Bears ran Howard an awful lot to the left side. Supposedly the right side of the line was going to be the strongest in this respect with Bobbie Massie definitely having a reputation as a better run blocker than pass blocker.  But the Bears evidently believe that running behind Josh Sitton and Charles Leno is a better option.
  5. To my surprise, Darius Slay was not following Jeffery around. The Bears obviously consider Jeffery a mismatch on the other cornerbacks (and maybe on Slay as well).  So they started the game concentrating on getting the ball to him a little more than they have.
  6. The Lions were stunting a lot up front in an effort to get pressure on Hoyer. The offensive line generally did a very good job of exchanging men and handling it.  They generally picked up the blitz reasonably well, too.  They seem to be shaping up nicely as a unit.
  7. Cody Whitehair looks very solid up front now. He’s obviously settling in and showing his potential.   He’s got some power.
  8. Eddie Royal was on fire again. He seems to have a gift for popping open from the slot, which is absolutely his best position.  The Bears should never, ever put him outside again.
  9. Brian Hoyer was doing a good job of spreading the ball around. He’s also accurate and that quick release is something else.  He fits the ball very well into tight spaces.  Hoyer does two things that we never see from Jay Cutler.  He throws with anticipation and he often manages to get rid of the ball when the defense sends an unblocked man on the delayed blitz.  He was still sacked by Darius Slay on such a blitz in the first quarter, though.  So that problem isn’t completely solved.
  10. Somewhat surprised to see Joique Bell get significant snaps in this game only a week after he was signed. He got up to speed fast.
  11. There were a lot of positives about how the Bears moved the ball this game. But the bottom line is that they couldn’t turn it into points. That’s disappointing and they still have work to do finding ways to finish. 

Defense

  1. The Bears had a similar defensive game plan to the Lions. They sank back in coverage and tried to keep anyone from getting the ball deep.  The idea was evidently to let the other team make mistakes and stop themselves.  I’d say it worked for the most part for both teams.
  2. The Bears got sporadic pressure on Matthew Stafford in part because they were only rushing 3 or 4 for most of the game. Stafford did not have a good start to this game.  The Bears managed some good zone coverage, sometimes dropping as many as eight into coverage, and Stafford appeared to be a bit unhinged.
  3. The Lions spent a good deal of the game shooting themselves in the foot with mistakes and penalties. It looked to me like they were simply struggling to execute.
  4. The Bears did a pretty good job of stopping the run in the first half allowing only 2.7 ypc. The final stat was 3.7.
  5. Nick Kwiatkoski isn’t the most athletic linebacker and we aren’t going to see him roaming sideline to sideline like Brain Urlacher. He made his share of mistakes but he seems stout against the run.
  6. Despite Kwiatkoski’s play, the Bears did once again miss Danny Trevathan. The Lions took advantage of the Bears linebackers in coverage for a lot of yardage today.
  7. I thought Will Sutton held up better against the run this week. That’s encouraging with Eddie Goldman out.
  8. One thing that I’d like to see the Bears do more of is disguise their coverages. Whether it was man or zone – which they played an awful lot of today – there was never much doubt about what they were trying to do.
  9. Kudos to the Bears for stiffening and making a stand in the third quarter with the Lions having 1st and goal inside the 5 yard line. They forced a field goal, keeping the score 7-6 at the time.
  10. I think Stafford is channeling his inner Jay Cutler. His body language today every time something went wrong was deplorable.

Miscellaneous

  1. Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin. Always glad to have Johnston doing a Bear game.  He often points out things that the fans can’t see and I usually learn something from him.
  2. Allowing a punt return for a touchdown with 2 minutes left in a two score game is a terrible travesty. Just awful.  Deonte Thompson with a nice return to start the game.  Eddie Royal had a good put return in the first quarter as well.  Too bad it was called back after a block n the back penalty.  The boos rained down on Connor Barth as he missed a 50 yard field goal from the left hash.  Admittedly its not a chip shot but Ryan Pace and John Fox didn’t win any friends dropping Robbie Gould for him.
  3. Logan Paulsen dropped what was admittedly a tough catch in the first quarter.
  4. Both teams had more than their share of penalties in what was a sloppy game where is seemed that each team was shooting itself in the foot every time you turned around. Deonte Thompson with a stupid holding penalty early in the second quarter.  That killed the drive.
  5. The interception right before halftime by Jacoby Glenn was huge in that it saved at least three points for the Bears. It was evidently a miscommunication between Stafford and Golden Tate, who Stafford apparently though was going to cut his route short.  Glenn was facing Stafford and saw the whole thing develop very well and got a good jump on the ball.  At least as important was the second Stafford interception, this time in the fourth quarter with the Lions moving the ball well and threatening to cut the Bears lead to one score.  Deandre’ Hall was the one in the right place at the right time this time.  Hoyer, on the other hand, did a good job of protecting the ball.
  6. I’m seeing more of Peyton Manning now than I ever did when he was playing. We seemingly can’t have a single commercial break without seeing his face.  I like the guy but I’m already getting very sick of seeing him.
  7. Oh, and the point at which I was seeing Marshawn Lynch too many times was the first time. For a guy who never talked to the media he sure does seem to be on television a lot.
  8. There were times during this game when I didn’t think either side deserved to win. With 18 penalties for 131 yards, the game was terribly sloppy and both teams seemed to take turns killing themselves with mistakes.  If you are the Bears, you take a win any way you can get it.  But the message I took away was that both of these teams have a long way to go before they are going to truly compete for the division.

Defensive Linemen on the Rise in 2016 NFL Draft. Offensive Linemen, Not So Much.

Reports from the Senior Bowl at nfl.com support previous indications that the defensive linemen are going to be a strength in this year’s NFL draft. Here’s a cross section of the comments from the first day of practice:

Mike Mayock

“We knew going in the deepest positional group was defensive tackle, and boy did that hold true. I thought Matt Ioannidis from Temple had a great day. I thought the kid from Louisiana Tech, Vernon Butler, had a phenomenal day. But the topper was Adolphus Washington from Ohio State. He was all over the field in one-on-one drills; he was too quick, too stout. He was great in team drills. I thought he put on a show.”

Lance Zierlein

“[Clemson DT D.J.] Reader‘s 340-pound frame was often too much for many of the linemen he faced on Tuesday. Keep an eye on this late addition because Reader could make himself some money this week.

“Louisville DT Sheldon Rankins showed off his ‘karate’ hands by defeating blockers with astounding quickness at times. While Rankins is undersized, his compact frame, outstanding balance, and next-level hand usage should make him one of the most consistent performers on the South squad this week.”

All this is great news for teams like the Bears who need defensive line help. It looks like they’re going to have a great selection to choose from.

But much of the rest of the league might not be too pleased. This dominant performance by the defensive tackles in these practices can’t speak well for the offensive linemen that are getting beat on a consistent basis. Judging by what I saw during the regular season, I’d be very surprised if less than three-quarters of the league is in need of offensive line help. That includes most of the playoff teams, as was graphically demonstrated by the beating that New England quarterback Tom Brady took on Sunday. In the NFC North, Minnesota, Detroit, Green Bay and Chicago all need help in one form or another along the offensive front.

The Bears might be able to find multiple defensive linemen in this draft. But the indications are growing that offensive linemen are going be at a premium.

Bears Will Face Stiff Competition for a Guard in Free Agency

Dave Birkett at the Detroit Free Press thinks the Lions could be big spenders in free agency:

“With a projected cap north of $150 million, and the likelihood they free up more room with cuts or retirements, the Lions have the potential to be significant players in free agency if new general manager Bob Quinn chooses.”

“The Lions have holes on both lines, at linebacker and at receiver this off-season, and their need for a pass catcher could amplify if Calvin Johnson retires, as he’s hinted he might do.

“If Johnson retires, the Lions, who currently have more available cap space than 11 other teams, will gain an additional $11 million in spending room.”

The Lions, like the Bears, might have plenty of cap space but they are one of many, many teams that have needs on the offensive line including playoff teams Minnesota, Seattle and Arizona to name a few. All of these teams will face stiff competition for any offensive lineman who is worth his salt and who hits free agency. That’s going to drive the price up into the stratosphere.

The Bears, at least, are going to have to look for their right guard in the draft. Any team hoping to fill their holes in that area through free agency and is willing to put out the money needed to do it is likely building the foundation of their offense on sand.

The Reality of the Bears Situation

Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune reviews the problems that the Bears have to overcome in order to continue to win football games.

Jay Cutler’s turnover-free night? Well, Quentin Rollins dropped a shoulda-been interception in the first quarter. And Cutler had to make a desperate hustle recovery to avoid disaster on a fumbled fourth-quarter snap.

“That spirited defensive effort? The Bears still are getting pushed around up front and proving way too vulnerable against the run.

“This list could go on for awhile. And it’s why the Bears can’t take their newfound position as favorites against the 49ers and Redskins as a sign that they can exhale. They still have a razor-thin margin for error and haven’t enjoyed a three-game winning streak since September 2013.”

He’s got a good point. In talking to Bears fans around town and around the Internet, there’s considerable optimism about how this team is going to finish the year. What I’m hearing a lot is, “With that schedule? They’re going to the playoffs.” Much though I like what I see, I think fans are setting themselves for disappointment.

Looking ahead, I see San Fransisco, Washington, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, and Detroit. Are those winnable games? You bet. But I feel compelled to point out that those teams are saying the same thing about their game against the 5-6 Bears. And with the exception of the Vikings, all of them are on the upswing, just as the Bears are. And the Vikings were pretty good to begin with.

San Fransisco just limited the Cardinals, possibly the best team in the NFC, to 19 points. Tampa Bay has won three of their last five and is in contention for a playoff spot. Washington has also won three of five and are the favorites to win their division. The Lions just beat the Packers three weeks ago in Lambeau, matching what the Bears just did, and they absolutely destroyed the Eagles on Thanksgiving. And both the Vikings and the Lions beat the Bears earlier in the year.

Could the Bears finish strong and be in contention for the playoffs? No doubt. But much more likely fans will be sitting at the end of the year and be happy that the Bears gradually improved over the course of the season with a bright future ahead of them. But only if they stay grounded in reality.

Revising Expectations for the Bears

Jon Greenberg at ESPN is revising his expectations for the Bears:

“In the beginning … we predicted 6-10 for the Chicago Bears and it seemed just about right.”

“But then Jay Cutler returned [from injury] ahead of schedule and things settled down, and now, weeks after fans stopped watching games between their outstretched fingers, this looks like, knock on Mike Ditka’s pompadour, it could be a wholly respectable team with a longshot chance of making the postseason.”

The Bears are on a hot streak and Cutler is certainly a big part of that. But Cutler or not, I’m sticking with 6-10.

The Bears are 4-5 and at this point in the season, I think that’s great. But let’s not forget that they are the same team that lost to the Lions a month ago. They’ve won two games since then but they’ve gotten a lot of help from two teams that, frankly, played well below their talent level. Such things have a bd habit of evening out and more often than not, given decent coaching and a good environment, teams end up right where their talent level says they should.

I’m not disparaging the Bears here. I think they’re a well-coached team that is making progress every week. But Denver is a much better team that is unlikely to give the game away with poor discipline in the same manner that the Rams did. And I don’t care how badly the Packers are slipping at the moment, I can’t believe that they won’t pull it together and beat the Bears on Thanksgiving. I also see the Vikings as a loss in Minnesota. After that, the Bears are still a team that’s going to be no more than a coin flip against Washington, San Fransisco, Tampa Bay, and Detroit. If they win half of those, that’s two more wins. And that’s where I’m still sitting.

Could the Bears Trade Alshon Jeffery?

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune evaluates the film from Sunday’s loss to the Lions:

“[Alshon] Jeffery was dynamic after missing four games with a hamstring injury, showing his ability to dominate cornerbacks on back-shoulder throws on the final drive of regulation and how his 6-foot-3 frame makes him a mismatch on high throws in the end zone on his touchdown. The return of Eddie Royal also opened creative screens.”

Aishon_jeffrey
Alshon Jeffery (Wikipedia)

Eddie Royal has come alive because the Bears finally put him back in the slot where he belongs. But that’s not what stuck out to me in Biggs’s comment.

Just a week ago I was asked by a Jets fan if I thought the Bears would take a second round pick for Jeffery. The question was not unreasonable given that his contract is up after this year and he hadn’t been able to get on the field. I told the fan that I thought the Bears wouldn’t trade Jeffery until they got a good look at him on the field. This game demonstrated why.

There were (ands still are) questions about whether Jeffery can be a real number one wide receiver who can perform despite the absence of Brandon Marshall, who was traded in the offseason. In his first game back last Sunday, Jeffery made all the difference, providing a deep threat that the Bears simply don’t otherwise have.

That doesn’t mean the Bears might not trade Jeffery eventually. There are still a lot of games to play and Jeffery likely hasn’t seen anyone’s best shot yet. And the Bears do still have Keven White, who they surely drafted in the first round with the expectation that he would eventually be a number one receiver.

It says here that the Bears probably franchise Jeffery. They’ve got cap room and don’t have anyone else to tag.  It will keep the price reasonable  down while they negotiate a long-term extension.  Jeffery would skip offseason workouts but he’d probably rather train with Marshall anyway.

Still, you never know.

Cutler More than Just Right Against the Lions

Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune evaluates three Bears including quarterback Jay Cutler:

“Cutler’s final numbers look OK. He was 26 of 41 passing for 353 yards, a touchdown, an interception and an 88.8 passer rating. But the Bears scored only three touchdowns on eight trips inside the red zone, and he acknowledged those failures start with him. Cornerback Rashean Mathis intercepted Cutler’s poorly thrown fade in the end zone on the opening possession of the second half. On the up side, Cutler delayed the Bears’ demise by moving them 69 yards in 17 seconds just before the fourth quarter expired.”

Its worth noting that, at least to my eye, Cutler had his best game of the year Sunday. He still missed some throws, his ball placement isn’t always great and he still threw his weekly interception.  But generally speaking I thought he was more consistent than he has been and I think that passer rating of almost 90 reflects that.

Not much is really going wrong for Cutler and, as far as I’m concerned, he is still on perhaps the best roll of his career in Chicago. Here’s hoping that continues after the bye.

Lack of Pass Rush a Huge Factor in Loss to the Lions

With the Bears on a mini-winning streak before Sunday, I think Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune has been saving up his angst. He let loose on Monday. I’ll just highlight one comment:

“Who’s the genius who let Harold Jones-Quartey take Calvin Johnson deep in overtime?

“The one real threat the Lions have, and the Bears let him make the biggest play of the game.”

It’s always dicey guessing what’s going on in the defensive backfield while watching on television. Having said that, the Bears used some zone but for the most part it looked to me like they were using bracket coverage on Johnson with safety Jones-Quartey over the top and cornerback Terry Porter underneath for a good part of the game. As a defensive coach, that’s pretty much the most you can do with Johnson (or anyone).

Sure, Jones-Quartey was a problem. Though it hadn’t emerged a a serious weakness with Adrian Amos on the other side, the safety position hasn’t been a strength for the Bears and I think everyone knew there was the potential for one or both of them to be exposed, especially with Antrel Rolle on the list of walking wounded.

The reason the safety position hadn’t been exposed previously is in part because the Bears were generating a decent pass rush. That disappeared on Sunday against a Lions offensive line that has been putrid all year. That, more than any other factor, is the reason Johnson, fellow wide receiver Lance Moore and the much maligned Matthew Stafford busted out against the Bears. I won’t degrade Pernell McPhee too much because he was around Stafford for most of the game. But Jarvis Jenkins, Sam Acho, Lamarr Houston, Willie Young and especially Jeremiah Ratliff were invisible.

I find it hard to get too upset over this loss. I thought the team played hard and we knew it was a developmental year. But there’s little doubt that the Bears pass rush took a step back on Sunday. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, the Bears do about it after the break this week.

Quick Game Comments: Bears at Lions 10/18/15

1580257938_322e911f7cDefense

  1. The Lions come out mixing it up and playing well. They sustained a good, long drive starting at their own 20 yard line and ending with a touchdown. In contrast to recent weeks, they looked ready to play and take care of business. The Bears didn’t do anything fancy in defense, playing both their standard 3-4 and their nickel defense when expected. The Lions simply executed.
  2. Tracy Porter came out on Calvin Johnson as expected. If he was getting any special safety help, it wasn’t evident at first. Later after Porter had some help with Harold Jones-Quartey was bracketing Johnson deep. Kyle Fuller also had a very tough time with Lance Moore. The lack of pressure on Stafford didn’t help (see below). All in all it was a tough game for the defensive backs.
  3. In fairness to Fuller, he did come up aggressively on some quick throws to the outside to make a few good tackles.
  4. Having said that, Harold Jones-Quartey missed a tackle to allow Calvin Johnson to go 43 yards on a drive in the second quarter. Johnson hasn’t looked good this year but he somehow managed to take advantage of the Bears defense, which was playing zone on the play.
  5. Jones-Quartey wasn’t the only one who wasn’t tackling well. For the first time all season I can say that there was some bad tackling out there pretty much all over on occasion.
  6. The Bears had trouble getting pressure on Stafford over a much maligned offensive line. They were running stunts but the Lions were blocking it well.
  7. As with the pass protection, I thought the Lions offensive line did a good job blocking the run. All in all the Bears were getting blown back off the line and were having a tough time getting off of blocks. Aggressive play behind them helped limit the damage.
  8. I love Ameer Abdulla but was disappointed to once again see him put the ball on the ground again. The Lions got it back but it’s still a problem.
  9. Jeremiah Ratliff was out there but it sure didn’t show.

Offense

  1. The Lions came out playing eight in the box on first down. The Bears were glad to take advantage by attacking the edges with a lot of quick screens to the outside. The Bears didn’t abandon the run but the Lions defense was definitely stopping it. The Bears success with the pass eventually loosened them up and Forte saw more room later in the half .
  2. It was funny to watch the Lions come out for the second half because it was like a replay of the first half. They went back to what they started with, putting eight in the box and stopping the run. The Bears eventually went to the pass to beat it. I’d say that the Bears were reasonably successful taking what the Lions gave them, today.
  3. Again, its worth noting that the Lions looked aggressive and ready to play. They weren’t world beaters but to my eye they was still plenty of effort.
  4. Eddie Royal was back in the slot, this time helped out by having Alshon Jeffery back out wide. Royal came to the Bears hoping he could prove that he could play on the outside. But its obvious that the slot is where he belongs and he looks good there.
  5. Jay Cutler was far from perfect with his ball placement again, occasionally making it a lot tougher on his receivers than it should have been. He threw behind his receiver twice near the goal line late in the second quarter – once on a simple wide receiver screen – and the Bears settled for a field goal. Once again I was shaking my head over some throws.
  6. Cutler didn’t see a whole lot of pressure from the Lions front four against a patch work Bears offensive line. Once again, Cutler was very effective moving around the pocket when he did see pressure . On one pass late in the second quarter, he pulled off a near miracle to get away from pressure and throw up a 45 yard jump ball for Alshon Jeffery. Cutler threw some good clutch passes on the Bears last possession in regulation.
  7. The Bears struggled in the red zone today, settling for field goals more often than I’d like. They did score a critical touchdown midway through the fourth quarter but they needed an extra set of downs on what I thought was a questionable defensive holding call to do it.

Miscellaneous

  1. Chris Myers and Ronde Barber were OK. Again, I didn’t feel like I learned much and Barber gave me the distinct impression that he had some sympathy for the Lions but not enough to really be bothersome. Looking at Jen Hale makes me happy.
  2. I’m getting a little tired of watching other kickers put the ball out of the end zone while Robbie Gould kicks it short. Marc Mariani had a nice return in the second quarter but it was the usual story as it was brought back by a holding penalty. On the good side, the Bears recovered two muffed punts, one in the third quarter and one in the fourth in what was some poor special teams play by the Lions. The Lions pulled out a nicely timed fake punt in the fourth quarter to help make up for some of it.
  3. Walt Coleman’s crew had the fewest called penalties in the league going in to this game but apparently the Bears were out to ruin their record. Will Sutton was offsides, eliminating a sack from Jonathan Anderson. Sam Acho had a damaging face mask penalty on a Lions touchdown drive in the second quarter. Kyle Long had two holding penalties which put the Bears offense in a hole, one in the second quarter and one in the third. The Bears lost a first down in the third quarter on an Alshon Jeffery hold. Jeffery also had a pass interference in the red zone in the fourth quarter. He made up for it with a nice touchdown catch a play later. Fuller had a bad pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter to put the Lions into the red zone. For the Lions, Glover Quin had an unnecessary roughness call in the second quarter. They lost a touchdown on and offensive pass interference call on Calvin Johnson. It looked like a bad call to me, though. Josh Bynes had a bad holding call on Alshon Jeffery in the end zone to give the Bears four new downs in the red zone. Forte put the ball into the end zone.
  4. It felt like there were so many penalties in over time I stopped counting.  Suffice it to say I thought it was sloppy.
  5. There weren’t that many drops but Tim Wright had a bad one midway through the fourth quarter with the Lions down 31-24. Golden Tate also had a drop in the red zone on a ball thrown behind him in the red zone in the fourth quarter. Eddie Royal had a bad drop in over time.
  6. Jonathan Anderson almost came up with a huge interception late in the second quarter in the end zone. Great play by Kyle Fuller stripping the ball on that play. Unfortunately the call on the field was reversed and the referees awarded the Lions a touchdown on the field. That non-turnover meant as much to this game as any real turnover did. Good for Anderson for getting another one in the fourth quarter as Matthew Stafford pulled a Cutler on a badly thrown, soul-crushing interception deep in Detroit territory. Cutler had a third quarter interception in the end zone on a bad throw which cost the Bears at least three points.
  7. With the score at 24-22 early in the fourth quarter, I was pretty surprised to see the Bears kick the extra point rather than go for two. I con’t see the downside to going for it. It will be interesting to hear John Fox’s explanation after the game. They successfully went for two after scoring a touchdown later in the quarter.
  8. On the Lion’s side, kicking the field goal with less than three minutes to play on 4th and four in the red zone was a head scratcher. They did have three time outs and the Bears did have to run the ball to try to run the clock out. Nevertheless, it wasn’t the decision that I would have made. But I guess it worked out.
  9. The last Lions possession in regulation was a circus. There was a devastating intentional grounding call with 45 second left in the game on what I thought was a simple cross up between Stafford and Golden Tate. That was followed by a tough roughing the passer call against Pernell McPhee. Calvin Johnson finally put an end to it with a good six yard touchdown catch from Stafford.
  10. Though it was far from perfect, this was a pretty good football game to watch. These were reasonably well-matched, competitive teams, one that has a bad habit of turning the ball over and the other that has a bad habit of shooting itself in the foot with penalties. I thought both teams played hard, though. That was especially notable from the Lions, who some speculated might simply throw in the towel on a disappointing season after starting 0-5. There are worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon than watching these two teams play ball.