The Bears shook off a sluggish start to beat the Detroit Lions, 20-13, on Sunday at Soldier Field. Here’s how the Bears did it.
THREE MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
1. Before the game even kicked off, the Lions were in a tough spot. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was ruled out with an apparent back injury. Stafford had started 136 consecutive games for the Lions. That streak snapped Sunday. Backup Jeff Driskel stepped into the starting spot. His best drive was the opening drive of the game, when he led Detroit 72 yards inside the Bears’ 5-yard line, before the Lions settled for a field goal.
2. Trailing in the first half, 6-0, the Bears broke out of another early offensive funk with a 10-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a Mitchell Trubisky 18-yard touchdown pass to Ben Braunecker. The touchdown came with 25 seconds remaining on the clock before halftime. For a Bears offense that produced next to nothing through the first quarter and much of the second quarter, it was a breakthrough. The Bears led, 7-6, at halftime.
3. Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan left the game with a gruesome left elbow injury in the first half. Trevathan pressured Driskel and nearly sacked him. As they hit the ground, Trevathan’s arm was caught underneath Driskel at an unnatural angle. Trevathan did not return to the game. It was a huge loss for the Bears. Trevathan is typically the signal caller for the defense with radio access to the coaching staff inside his helmet. Nick Kwiatkoski took over for the injured veteran.
THREE THINGS WHAT WORKED
1. Tight end touchdown: Braunecker’s touchdown was the first by a Bears tight end all season. The team has seen little production from Trey Burton or Adam Shaheen. Shaheen was listed as inactive Sunday, likely a healthy scratch because he was not listed on the Bears injury reports this week. Braunecker made a nice catch on the touchdown, extending both arms on Trubisky’s throw to the corner of the end zone.
2. Second-half surge: Out of halftime, the Bears put together another solid scoring drive, going 76 yards with the help of Detroit’s 22 penalty yards. Trubisky connected with Tarik Cohen for a 9-yard touchdown pass that put the Bears up by a touchdown. Trubisky wound up with three touchdown passes for the game, matching his season high from a Week 3 win over Washington.
3. Linebacker shuffle: Trevathan’s replacement Kwiatkoski hauled in an interception in the third quarter that gave the Bears the ball at the Lions’ 25. It led to a Trubisky touchdown pass to Taylor Gabriel, putting the Bears up, 20-6. Kwiatkoski made the most of his opportunity, as he did earlier this season when linebacker Roquan Smith missed a game. The Bears defense as a whole was generally solid in the second half.
THREE THINGS THAT DIDN’T
1. Early issues: For the second consecutive week, the Bears offense was almost nonexistent in the first half. The Bears went three-and-out on three of their first four possessions and punted on all four. Prior to the scoring drive before halftime, the Bears had totaled 25 yards in a quarter and a half. It wasn’t as bad as the 9-yard output in Philadelphia last week, but it wasn’t good.
2. Offensive line moves: The Bears appear to be looking for a spark on the offensive line. Coach Matt Nagy moved offensive lineman Cody Whitehair back to center – where he played last year – and James Daniels to left guard. For the most part, the moves seemed to work smoothly. The Bears did not have a particularly good day running the ball, though, and Trubisky took five sacks.
3. Late score: The Bears allowed a late touchdown, a 48-yard pass from Driskel to Kenny Golladay. The score brought the Lions within a touchdown in the final minutes. Golladay, a St. Rita and Northern Illinois product, is the Lions’ top receiver this year. Detroit made it interesting down the stretch but the Bears defense came up with one last stop in the final seconds.
The Bears travel to Los Angeles to take on the Rams in the Sunday Night Football matchup next week.