Early on, that did not look a vaunted, dominating defense that the Bears like to believe they have. But something happened right around halftime, and low and behold it appeared again, just in time to help Chicago finish off Detroit, and extend its winning streak to five games.
Early on, that did not look a vaunted, dominating defense that the Bears like to believe they have.
But something happened right around halftime, and low and behold it appeared again, just in time to help Chicago finish off Detroit, and extend its winning streak to five games.
Early on in Sunday’s NFC North battle in Detroit, the Bears D was gashed by big runs, and the Lions young quarterback Drew Stanton appeared to be in control. Detroit led 17-14 at the break, and the home team had all of the momentum after a two-play, 91-yard drive led them into the locker room with a hold on the division leaders.
"For some reason we didn’t play as well as needed to to open up the game. Offensively we did, but defensively, with missed tackles and mistakes, we just didn’t," Bears head coach Lovie Smith said. "Upset? Yeah, you could say that. We weren’t happy with what was going on out there…It’s hard to stomach missed tackles on critical plays. Letting a team go 90 yards in two plays? That’s not us. We should have gotten a stop. But I liked the way the guys finished."
It’s still not clear what was said at halftime, but the message was clearly received. Detroit racked up 253 yards of offense in the first two quarters; 143 through the air and 110 on the ground. And the Lions were 4-for-7 on third-down chances, keeping the Bear offense off the field throughout.
But in the second half, Chicago showed up. Detroit netted 49 yards of total offense in the third and fourth quarters, throwing for 25 and rushing for 24 more. And, the Lions were just 2-of-7 on third downs down the stretch, allowing the Jay Cutler-led offense to ground out the clock.
"Today it was fundamentals and missed tackles that hurt us…Then, we just started playing better," defensive end Julius Peppers said. "We had a sense of urgency there, and the veteran players knew it. We all know that first-half performance wasn’t us. We fought amongst ourselves, told each other we had to pick it up, and we did."
The last time the Bears faced a struggling team that was forced to go with its third-string quarterback, they did what they were supposed to do: Dominate.
Chicago blanked the Dolphins 16-0 back on Nov. 18, giving no ground on defense while controlling the clock on offense. On Sunday, facing a third-string quarterback for the second consecutive road game, the Bears D struggled early on.
Stanton fared well against the Bears in the first half, accumulating a 122.0 QB rating in the first two quarters. He finished with a 102.4 rating, the best for any quarterback that has faced the Bears this year; but it didn’t matter much in the end.
"Those are good stats, but at the end off the day you want to get the win," said Peppers, who finished with four tackles, a sack and a tackle for a loss. "(Stanton) played well today, and hats off to him. But you want to get the win instead of great stats."
Like several other times this year, the Bears didn’t get the great stats. Instead, they just got the win. That’s fine with all the players on the defensive side of the ball.
"Everybody was kind of upset; we could see the game and the way it was going. We could see the offense holding up their end, and we knew we had to suck it up," said defensive back D.J. Moore, who had six tackles and a half a sack. "Whatever we were doing we weren’t doing it good, and we changed it in the second half.
"Was it a step back? No way, we won another game. To take a step back, you have to lose. We won, man."
And at this stage of the game, it doesn’t really matter how you win, it just matters that you don’t lose.
Jay Taft covers the Chicago Bears for the Rockford Register Star. He can be reached at 815-987-1384 or firstname.lastname@example.org.