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Lions' strengths stand out in victory

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Posted Oct. 11, 2011 @ 4:45 p.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening

The Lions' 24-13 win vs. Chicago on Monday night keeps them atop the NFC North alongside Green Bay. The NFL's two lone undefeated clubs are now three games clear of Chicago and four games up on Minnesota in a division-title competition that looks like it will be a two-team race. 

Despite trailing at halftime for the third consecutive game, the Lions won Monday with relative ease despite Chicago holding the ball for the majority of the final two quarters. Let's take a closer look at how the Lions pulled away. 

The PFW Spin

Detroit seized control Monday for these reasons:

A robust pass rush, coupled with an extremely loud home crowd. The Lions were credited with six QB hits and three sacks. Five QB hits and two sacks came in the final two quarters. Chicago had nine — nine! — false-start penalties, with eight committed by the offense. The Bears managed just three second-half points, and their longest drive in the second half came as the Lions protected an 11-point lead in the final moments of the game. The Lions' defensive line's disruptiveness is no secret, but the Ford Field crowd noise was a revelation — something that can only be an asset as Detroit positions itself to play games of greater and greater consequence.

The offense is loaded with playmakers. The Lions simply can score more easily than most clubs. They scored on a 73-yard TD from Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson and an 88-yard Jahvid Best TD run. Best's rushes on Detroit's final drive of 43 and 15 yards set up a fourth-quarter field goal that essentially salted the game away for the Lions. All told, the Lions gained 36 more yards than the Bears despite running 19 fewer plays. Detroit averaged 8.4 yards a play, with Chicago averaging 5.4 yards.

Johnson continues to play at an exceptionally high level. Of his five catches on Monday, one went for a touchdown, and the other four went for first downs. Only one of Stafford's six passes to Johnson fell incomplete.

The offensive line played very well. Stafford was sacked just once, and Best rolled for 163 yards on 12 carries.

Best's career-best rushing output came at a great time. Best gashed a Chicago defense that has struggled vs. the run, and his three longest rushes were key to the Lions' win. He made the most of some prime opportunities to show his game-breaking speed. The Lions' running game isn't the strength of the offense, but it was very good on Monday night.

Even if you aren't convinced the Lions can be major players in the NFC — and their doubters are dwindling in number — they have the ability to pose numerous problems for opponents, and they have shown they can seize control of games with bursts of brilliance. That's impressive.

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