CHICAGO — After a disastrous offensive performance against Cleveland a week ago, the Bears rebounded rather effectively for a 24-14 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Soldier Field.
Three moments that mattered
1. Victory formation: It isn’t a stretch to say this was a very important game for head coach Matt Nagy’s Bears to win, and win with a much more effective offense. They’re not out of the woods by any means – and their next five, six weeks aren’t favorable on paper – but Nagy was under big pressure to have his team ready for a divisional opponent at home. Whoever called plays, it worked this week.
2. Late-game drama: Two offsides penalties, one by linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu and another from defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, prolonged the Lions’ late drive in the fourth quarter after making critical stops. On a 4th-and-1 on the Bears’ 8, Jared Goff threw an incomplete pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown to essentially ice their chances of a comeback and the Bears took over from there.
3. Injury outlook: It’s a big picture concern, but losing defensive tackle Akiem Hicks to a groin injury following the Lions’ first offensive snap for the game will be a key situation to monitor, as will running back David Montgomery’s knee injury sustained in the fourth quarter. Any extended time missed for either is a blow to their respective sides of the ball. On the defensive side, the good news for the Bears is Goldman played his first snaps since Week 16 of the 2019 season and is apparently healthy enough after missing the first three weeks with a knee injury.
Three things that worked
1. Justin Fields looked comfortable: It’s one game, let’s not make grand brushstrokes here about the Bears’ offense getting back on track, but there’s little arguing Fields had a much better feel for the game his second time around. As we’ll discuss further below, Fields (11 of 17, 209 yards, 1 interception) showed tremendous touch on deep passes and appeared more comfortable.
2. Run DM32: There’s little doubt the Bears’ offense runs more smoothly when Montgomery is involved often. After just 34 yards on 10 carries last week vs. Cleveland, Montgomery had 45 yards on the same number of carries with two touchdowns with 14:51 remaining in the second quarter – quite the contrast. Montgomery finished with 101 yards and exited with a knee injury late in the fourth quarter.
3. Let it loose: When Fields had time, he sure made the Lions pay, particularly down field. Darnell Mooney connected with him for a 64-yard completion in the middle of the first quarter, which was the Bears’ longest pass thus far this season. The season-high was previously for 21 yards. Through three quarters, Fields had four pass completions of over 20 yards. Entering Sunday, the Bears had one.
Three things that didn’t
1. Late mistakes: We mentioned it above, but the Bears’ defense found inopportune ways to make closing the Lions out more difficult. Attaochu’s and Goldman’s penalties were ultimately inconsequential in the sense no points were given up, but late mistakes are not something the Bears can afford.
2. Blown coverage: The Lions capped an eight play, 75-yard drive on a 25-yard touchdown pass to Kalif Raymond with 11:17 remaining to cut their deficit to 10. While it’s not immediately clear whose responsibility he was in coverage, Raymond was wide open in the middle of the field. Breakdowns like that in the fourth quarter are costly.
3. Graham? Kmet? Bueller?: We’ll keep harping on it, despite the improved offensive performance; why can’t Jimmy Graham get more involved in passing situations and targets? Despite getting sizable amount of snaps, it seems like he isn’t much of a factor in anything anymore. With 3:11 left in the third quarter, Kmet only had two targets and one reception. The Bears did use three tight ends to open the game on a Montgomery run, so perhaps that’s more indicative of where they feel they’re valuable.
The Bears travel to Las Vegas and visit Derek Carr and Raiders. Kickoff is 3:05 p.m Sunday.