Let's start with the big one - the last time the Bears had two defensive touchdowns in a game was in 1993, December 5 against the Green Bay Packers - one by Jeremy Lincoln and another by Mark Carrier. The Bears won the game 30-17 as they finished the year 7-9. This time, it was one-upped for happening on consecutive drives. The first one, Wright was more open than the receiver and Stafford hit him perfectly. The second, Tillman just jumped the route and had to weave a little more than Wright did, but made his way to the far clear-as-daylight corner of the endzone.
I also need to make special mention of Devin's great day above the fold here - just like Hester, it belongs in the first half only. Hester had three chances to run back punts - the first two, dead center, one he took to midfield and the other returned for a touchdown. The third was a directional kick to the sideline, which he ran completely across the field to midfield, but was called back on a penalty. Thinking a little deeper into it, there was a big difference in the punter style yesterday that contributed. In round one, Donahue threw up some high high punts - not as much vertical yardage, but much less room to run. Malone appeared to be more of a power punter, but he kept outkicking his coverage, even directionally, and we know how dangerous Hester is if there's any room to go. So maybe directional isn't the best way to go after Hester unless it's knocked out of bounds deep - maybe sky punts are just the best thing for other teams to handle him. Three returns, 122 yards, 1 TD - Devin Hester, you are ill, and yet ridiculous.
Now, the final matter for the top half - when I made the "Fight Night Round 2" headline, I had no idea fight night would actually be recreated. First off, if Stafford's got a fractured finger like was brought up all through the broadcast, what's he doing getting his hands wrapped up in DJ's helmet? And second of all, what's DJ doing retaliating - the second guy is always the first one caught. I'm not a fan at all of helmet-tackling - I was expecting a flag on Peppers' tackle/strip of Megatron - but since apparently it's legal, Moore can't be going after anybody, especially the league's golden position while defenseless, for a legal play.
I'm not sure how I feel about the punishments enacted on the play, though. The helmet tackle is a legal play, so I can see Stafford not getting a penalty on it, though I think he could have avoided the helmet altogether - it's a 240 lb QB versus a nickel back, so it's not like either side has a technique edge and Stafford's got the size advantage. That being said, Moore's retaliation is a clear personal foul and should have been flagged, and with the fracas that ensued, they had no choice but to remove him.
And now for the lighter, odder little minutiae of the game. Such as Matthew Stafford throwing the ball 63 times and Calvin Johnson being the target on 19 of those throws. For consideration, Cutler had 19 throws all game.
Other consideration, Johnson caught 7 of his 19 targets for 81 yards. Earl Bennett was targeted six times, catching all six. For 81 yards.
Further consideration, three other receivers caught passes for the Bears - Sam Hurd, Johnny Knox, and Matt Forte each had one catch. The Lions had 7 different pass-catchers, led by Nate Burleson with eight.
One last play-related bullet: the Lions had 19 rushes compared to the Bears' 35. We knew the Lions would be passing more without Jahvid Best manning the running game, but crikey, I don't think we predicted this much. Amazing what an early lead does to the other team's playcalling. Total offensive plays: Detroit, 84. Chicago: 57. Time of possession was nearly even.
The Lions receivers had quite the case of the drops, and there was a lot of physical play, but Jennings, Tillman, Moore and later Graham had a very solid day. When the other team throws 63 times, yardage will accumulate, nothing to really do about that, but they did an excellent job making stops, breaking up passes, and especially preventing extra yardage. Plus, keeping Calvin Johnson off the touchdown ledger deserves achievement points this season, even if he once again let a touchdown slip through his fingers. Similar to the game against Green Bay last year or the year before where Jennings got beat yet recovered the fumble, Jennings gave up enough space for Burleson to make the catch, but pursued the play hard and came back to force and recover the fumble. I love how hard he works on plays, but I wish he didn't have to work so hard for it, you don't get by in the NFL with second chances very often.
Speaking of touchdowns, wouldn't you know it that the one touchdown allowed by the Bears comes through, once again, the freaking tight end position. Stop. This.
Another thing that accumulates with lots of attempts is interceptions - Stafford had 329 yards, but barely a 50% completion percentage, and made several poor throws. The Wright interception was a classic cardinal sin of getting picked on a screen or flat - if that throw gets picked it's almost always a touchdown unless it's caught by a lineman or something. Quite possibly Stafford's worst throw of the game. Speaking of, if he has a fractured finger, why isn't he out of the game in the fourth quarter?
I'll tell you what though, Stafford finally made it through a full game at Soldier Field - maybe he can make it the full season. When he's on, he can be a pretty good quarterback with a pretty good receiver. He was just put in an awful spot today with the two fumbles and the Bears' hot start.
Getting an interception is probably the one thing Peppers didn't get to do, as he was everywhere until he reinjured himself. He even got in the sack column!
Now, offensive line. On the two sacks Cutler took, one was easily a coverage sack. The other was assigned to Avril on the strip/fumble automatically-reviewed no-one-cleanly-recovered fumble. Cutler was under some good consistent pressure all game, though there were occasions he had a pocket to step into or out of. It was probably just as well he didn't have to set himself up to face a pass rush all day like Stafford did. I thought Fairley could have been given an RTP on plopping on top of Cutler's throwing arm in the end zone, and another one on Suh when Vanden Bosch or Avril was around Cutler's ankles and Suh knocked him down like a cheap bowling pin, but I digress. Pass protection was not on the level it was the last few weeks, but maybe we'll see a little more of it - the Bears' next few opponents aren't exactly pass rush demons with the exception of Oakland.
For as chippy as the game was, very little in the way of penalties handed out - Detroit had four for 53 yards, the Bears had four for 37 yards. And neither team was good on third down - the Lions were 4-17 and the Bears were 3-13.
So I had my own meatball moment watching Forte's attempted pass, but after slowing down to think about it... There were really only two outcomes to that play, big gainer or an out of bounds throw. We got the latter, but had Forte been able to just thread it just in front of Davis (a tall order, given Forte's lack of quarterbacking), Davis had no one in front of him and would have at least had a 20 yard gain. Maybe Martz was getting a little cute on first and 10 at the 50, but apart from a red zone/goal line set, is there a better down to pull out the HB Pass? Plus, Forte throws better than Tebow, amirite?
Stafford spent so much time in shotgun I thought I was watching a college football game. Just saying.
Because I didn't make a big enough deal of it last time... OH MY SWEET JUMPING ZOMBIE DITKA ON A POGO STICK MADE OF CANDY CANES LOVIE SMITH WON A CHALLENGE. I mean, granted, it went from 3rd and 15 to 3rd and 7, but still - a more manageable third down distance, which the Bears unfortunately had to cash in for just a field goal.
Robbie Gould, still human, but still really really good.
I mentioned Peppers above, but as impressed as I am he got his sack from the 3-tech, I am disappoint, because it means the glut of other guys playing 3-tech (and I don't mean to name names, but they rhyme with Menry Helton and Omobi Akoye) just aren't getting it done. Nose tackle play has been fine, but Idonije wasn't getting much of anything at the other bookend. There was some pressure, but it was mostly Peppers and Adams crashing the pocket. Okoye and Melton had a few plays apiece of good penetration but were largely ineffective.
It's worthless to call him out since he's done for the year and can't do anything about it, but attention Chris Williams: you can't be standing around in the pocket looking confused on any blocking play of extended duration. You will be used to tackle the quarterback. Please stop this in the coming years.
Quick turnover notes. Entering the game, Stafford had thrown four INTs all year. He matched that. In fact, they had five turnovers all year, which was more than doubled.
Jay wasn't having a good game, and thankfully he didn't need to. He had a solid first quarter, and was great in the first half throwing to Bennett, but when throwing to any other receiver not named Bennett, for whatever reason he seemed to struggle, whether it be a pressure-induced throw or a forced push-throw. He was almost sacked on numerous occasions, which should be as official a stat as an almost-interception. Then the Bears pretty much decided to keep the game in the hands of Forte and Barber.
I dunno guys, 1700 words? Think I need another note? How about a summation of the game. The Bears had 216 yards of total offense, Cutler didn't even throw for 150 and Forte didn't even have 70 all-purpose yards, the Lions had 393 total yards, Stafford had 329 of that passing, time of possession was even, the Lions ran 27 more plays... and the Bears won by 24 points. Time to put this one to bed and let's get ready for San Diego.