Lions vs. Bears - Week 8

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Inside the friendly confines of Ford Field, this game was like any other in recent memory. This game was for the retention of first place in the NFC North. The Bears and the Lions both tied at 3-3 and both teams remembering the whipping handed down to the Lions by the Bears a few weeks ago.

The Lions won the toss and took the ball. Garcia, definitely not the long term answer but for sure better than Harrington, was playing and led the Lions out to begin the day at the Lions 39 after a great return by Drummond. The Lions moved the ball to the Bear 21, and Hanson came into the game and missed the field goal. 

Out came the rookie Kyle Orton trying to take his chance at the highly respected Lions’ defense. Orton had played well in the first game between these two rivals, and if he came into this game thinking how they played the last time was what to expect, he would be sadly mistaken. Even with Shaun Rogers out, Shaun Cody would be on his back all day. He could do nothing and with a quick 3 and out, the Lions took possession of the ball at their own 30.

Garcia came back head up and with a swagger. After a quick survey of the defense, he looked across the line at a hungry Bear, Tommie Harris. Cory Schlesinger punished all-pro LB Brian Urlacher as he opened lanes for Kevin Jones, and Jeff Garcia used Scottie Vines as a secret weapon in the march down the field. On a 3rd and 8 on the Bear 19, the Lions continued the piss poor play calling that has plagued them all season and ran up the middle. Tommie Harris stopped the run and with a 4th and 3 Hanson hit the field goal. 12 plays and 66 yards was the description of the drive. So with 4:11 left in the 1st quarter, the score was Detroit 3 and the Bears 0.

On his next drive, Orton came out with a little more respect for that Lion defense. HE surveyed the landscape to check the Lions’ defensive package. Again it was a 3 and out as the Lions stopped 2 runs by Jones and made Orton rush his delivery on a pass with Cody all over him. After a great run by Drummond on the return, the Lions had the ball at their own 32.

Garcia came on the field with the enthusiasm of a cheerleader. Unfortunately for the Lions that was not enough to get them a TD and the drive stalled. The good news, however, was that Harris hit a great punt and his teammates downed it at the Chicago 1.

The crowd’s thunderous approval carried over to the 1st play of the Chicago drive and the Bears, not being able to hear, committed a false start penalty. The Lions got robbed of a safety as they tackled Jones in the end zone. The 1st quarter ended after that play. Down the field came the teams as they marched to the other end to start the next quarter. The Lions’ sideline was alive with fire, and the Bears acted as if they didn’t want to be here. On the critical 2nd down, Orton out of his own end zone made perhaps the best fake I have ever seen and threw a nice swing pass to Jones for a gain of 15. Orton used the motivation of that play to march his Bears down the field for a 10 play and 99 yard drive that was capped by a 24-yard TD strike to Muhsin Muhammad. The PAT was good and with 9:29 left in the 2nd quarter it was the Bears on top of the Lions 7-3.

Detroitneeded to take this next drive for a score. After another magical Eddie Drummond return to their 35, on came Garcia and the offense. Again the Lions were plagued by more bad play calling and on a critical 3rd and 12, they went for 8. Disappointingly, the Lions again had to punt because of a failure of coaching, not playing. Harris hit another great punt and the Bears began at their own 11 with 7:46 left in the 2nd quarter.

Orton came out with a visible confidence that he hadn’t in opening other drives this game and he should have. He had done a masterful job of leading his team for a score the last time. The Bears marched as far as the Lion 33 and facing a critical 4th and 2 went for it. Orton showed the poise of a veteran (he is a rookie) and threw for a 13-yard completion and a 1st down. The Bears, however, couldn’t get any closer than the Lion 21, which is where they went for the field goal. It was good, and with 1:51 left in the 2nd quarter the score was Chicago 10 and the Lions 3. The drive was 13 plays long as Orton mastered his offensive scheme to get every inch of it.

After an Eddie Drummond return, the Lions had to send out Garcia to work the 2 minute offense from their own 16. The crowd held its collective breath hoping that the pathetic play calling that had plagued us all season would come to an end. Out of the gun, Garcia dumped off a short pass to Vines for a loss of two, continuing the plague. Chicago took a time out in order to stop the clock and possibly get the ball back to make something happen, something our coaching staff has failed to do on multiple occasions this season. On 2nd down, Garcia threw the ball away with 2 open receivers down field. That play also stopped the clock, so Chicago didn’t need a time out. On the 3rd down play, the Lions offense sputtered before the play as Backus got nailed for a false start. So with a real 3rd down and 17 at their 9, that horrendous play calling continued as they threw a 9-yard pass, and the Bears took another time out. Excellent coaching is what the Bears had demonstrated all season, and Lovie Smith certainly didn’t disappoint Bears fans this day. His masterful time management (something lacking in Detroit ) put the Bears in position to score again. Harris shanked the punt (17 yards) and the Bears got the ball back at the Detroit 35. 

Orton quickly hit Gage for a 25-yard gain and a 1st and 10 at the 10. After a pass and a run, the Bears had a 3rd and goal at the 2. They were unable to score the TD and with a 4th down left, they sent out the kicker for the field goal. The kick was good and Bears went to the locker room with a 13-3 lead, mostly because of the terrible Lion play calling.

The Bears got the ball to begin the 2nd half and started at the Lion 48 after a great return. Orton came out with all the confidence in the world. Orton attempted to show the Lions defense that he thought he owned them. He got the Bears down to the Lions 45 only, and the Bears had to punt. Eddie Drummond sat at his own 10 awaiting the punt. He let it go, and the Bears downed it at the Lions 1.

Out came Garcia yet again, and the crowd wanted to see them move away from what had plagued them all season. When Chicago had been pinned earlier in the game at the same place, they had thrown out of the quagmire. The Lions had a 3rd and 8 and threw it 7 continuing the defeatist coaching mentality that had killed them all season. Harris again had a terrible punt, and the Bears began their next charge at the Lions 44.

Mr. Confidence, Kyle Orton, came out all smiles as he surveyed the Lions defense and the awesome field position that his defense had given him. Again they went for the big pass to Muhammad, and he was unable to connect, although Muhsin was open. Again, it wasn’t that the pass was incomplete; it was that they at least stretched the field and the Lions had to respect that. Consequently, the Bears had spent the whole game virtually with 8 men in the box daring the Lions to throw, and the coaching staff was scared of the school yard tactic and let the Bears own them up to this point. The Bears had another dropped pass and had to punt. The Lions took the ball at their own 15.

Again the Bears stacked the box this time, however, Garcia moved away from the short pass that was called and hit his receiver for a 20-yard gain. Then the staff gave us some hope by remembering that they had Scottie Vines and gave him the ball for a reverse. Now, with Urlacher and the Bears having to cover the whole field with some good play calling, Kevin Jones was able to break off a great run to the Bears 43, and catch another pass to the Bears 37. Jones ran the ball to the Bears 33 on 2nd down, and on third, he hurdled Urlacher for the 1st down at the Chicago 31. On 1st down, Garcia threw a good pass to Scottie Vines, but the Bears made a great play. The good news was that the Lions were opening the play calling and they looked good. On a 2nd and 10, the Bears played off the Lions showing respect for the new play calling and Artoose Pinner ran for a first to the Bears 21. On 1st down, Pinner again came back for 6 with the Bears looking for a pass. With a 2nd and 4, the Lions took a time out. What we saw in this drive was that when the coaching staff opened the offense (very similar to MSU) and used the pass to open the rush, they were able to move the ball effectively. I have screamed all year that MSU and the Lions need to do that and finally, at least on this drive the Lions were. Out of the time out, the Lions were in an offset I formation to the right. Garcia ran the ball and was decimated by Tommie Harris. Garcia jumped up, and with a nice pass for the first down the Lions had the ball with a 1st and goal on the 6. With the Bears in an obvious pass defense, the Lions born again play calling allowed them to surprise the Bears with a 6-yard TD run for Kevin Jones. The PAT was good by Hanson and with 3:15 left in the 3rd quarter, the Lions were losing 13-10. The drive was 12 plays for 85 yards. That drive was exactly what the Lions needed to do. They used the pass, at times just the threat to set up the run and with a great back like Jones they were able to move the ball with relative ease against a good Bears’ defense. It makes no sense to expect a new quarterback to do something different with the same pathetic play calling. Ford Field had a new energy as they could sense that the Lions possibly had a metamorphic experience with the offense. After the kick, the Bears began at their own 6.

The Bears, again, with arguably less talent than Detroit or at best comparative, let the rookie throw out of terrible field position. Lovie Smith’s great play calling, again, set his team up for success with his masterful game skill. On 2nd down, the Bears fumbled the ball and the Lions picked it up for the TD, but the referee clearly made a bad call by calling it down. The place went nuts. The Bears did nothing on 3rd down, and the Lions got the ball back on the punt at their own 36.

I am sure that Urlacher was not happy to see Schlesinger back in drooling for the opportunity to deliver another good block that would spring Jones for some more yards.

Garcia missed wide-open Vines, however, on first down but the Lions were reinvigorated. Out of the gun on a critical 3rd down, Jeff hit Mike Williams for the critical 1st down and also to move the chains. Because the Bears were now guessing what the Lions would do rather than knowing, Garcia hit Vines for a 20-yard gain and the Lions had a 1st and 10 at the Bears 14. That was also the end of the 3rd quarter. So as the teams changed ends of the field, the Lions were sitting at the Bears 14 with a 1st and 10. Most importantly, the Lions had the Bears guessing what was coming as the Lions had moved away clearly from the horrific play calling that all fans had endured this year. Garcia had back his swagger as he talked with his teammates during the TV time out that follows the conclusion of each quarter. Facing a 3rd down at the 12, the Lions wasted yet another time out. The Lions brought Kevin Jones out and replaced him with Bryson, and the Bears adjusted appropriately. Garcia showed what concerned many on 3rd down when he missed a wide-open Marcus Pollard for what would have been a first down. Hanson came in and kicked the field goal. So with 13:20 left in the fourth quarter, the Lions and the Bears were tied at 13. That drive being stopped from the TD was not the coaching staff’s issue however, that was Garcia.

The Bears had a great kick return that was also aided by a stupid penalty that the Lions have to avoid to be a championship team. If Detroit loses this game remember that bone headed play. The Bears started at the Lions 43. Again the Lions defense was asked to fix either an offense or special teams’ blunder. The crowd was rocking, but the Bears moved the ball effectively with the great coaching of the Bears staff, led by Lovie Smith. The Bears offense got as far as the Lions 18, but they could go no farther. The Lions defense smothered them and recovered a fumble. That gave Garcia and the gang the opportunity to march down the field for the go ahead score. The fumble was caused by Shaun Cody and recovered by Kalimba Edwards. 

Garcia began at the Lion 28. The crowd roared as they sensed this team growing before their own eyes. Well the crowd was wrong. Jeff Garcia threw the ball to no one behind the line of scrimmage and it was ruled an intentional grounding after much debate. That brought up a 2nd and 20 at the 18 with 9:36 left in the 4th quarter. Garcia made a great pass off of a great call from the coaching staff, a fade to Williams. It was there but Mike dropped it. On the next play, the Bears got hit for a personal foul and the Lions got a 1st down at the 40. Sadly this great opportunity was thrown away on the first 2 plays as the Lions’ coaching staff reverted to the terrible play calling. The Lions failed to get the first and the Lions had to punt. The Bears got the ball at their own 20 after the touchback.

Orton moved his team down the field with relative ease, confusing the Lions defense with some great play calling. The Lions defense, however, helped with the relentless pursuit of the front seven, kept them out of the end zone. Both teams had the opportunity to win the game, but neither could. That sent the game to overtime.

Detroitgot the ball and sadly for Lions’ fans, the coaching staff forgot to bring their change of attitude play calling with them, and they reverted to the pathetic play calling of the past. Detroit was impotent and had to punt. The Bears had one good run, but the Lions held them with some exceptional defensive play.

When the Lions got the ball back, coaching decisions left them out to dry and on a critical 3rd down, Garcia made a bad pass that was intercepted for the TD and the win, 19-13!

Grades:

Offense: F
Defense: B
Coaching: F (horrendous)