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Defense Unable To Bail Out Bears In Detroit

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Sep 30, 2013 4:00PM

The Bears headed to Detroit hoping to take a commanding lead in the NFC North but fell to 3-1 after a 40-32 loss to the Lions that was nowhere near as close as the score suggests.

The Bears looked good early as they stopped Detroit on the game's first possession and scored a field goal on their first turn on offense. The Lions added a pair of David Akers field goals to take a 6-3 lead as the Bears defense had trouble stopping running back Reggie Bush. Akers's second field goal was set up by Jay Cutler's first turnover of the day. The Bears took a 10-6 lead when Matt Forte hit a hole and raced 53 yards for a TD. Akers booted his third field goal of the game to cut the early Bears lead to one the first of 24 consecutive points by the Lions to blow the game wide open. A 57-yard punt return set up a Matt Stafford QB sneak for a touchdown in which he fumbled the ball and then recovered it over the goal line. Two plays later, the Lions were in the end zone again following Jay Cutler's second interception and Lions receiver Calvin Johnson hauled in a jump ball pass from Stafford. Suddenly, the Lions had a 23-10 lead but they weren't finished scoring. Reggie Bush, who rushed for 139 yards, gained 37 of them on the way to the end zone resulting in a 20-point Lions lead. The Bears tried to regain momentum, forcing a fumble in the final minute of the half and driving to kick a field goal that made the score 30-13 at the half.

For a short while, the Bears looked like they had regained the momentum with another Robbie Gould field goal and an interception of Stafford by Major Wright. On the Bears' ensuing possession, however, Cutler was sacked by Ndamukong Suh, fumbled the ball and Detroit's Nick Fairley recovered and ran it four yards for a score. The Lions lead was 37-16 and the rout was on. Akers's fourth field goal of the afternoon extended the Lions lead to 40-16 early in the fourth quarter before the Bears offense got untracked. Cutler marched the Bears down the field and connected with Alshon Jeffrey on a 14-yard touchdown pass, followed by a successful two-point conversion. An onside kick failed but Corey Wooten forced and recovered a fumble and that set up a drive that ended with Cutler finding Earl Bennett in the end zone. Another successful two-point conversion, caught by Brandon Marshall, cut the lead to eight points. But with less than a minute on the clock, the Bears needed a miracle. Another onside kick failed and the Lions ran out the clock.

Jay Cutler's four turnovers—three interceptions and a fumble—killed the Bears, who outgained the Lions 417 yards to 387 yards on the afternoon. The offense was unable to convert on third down (0 for 12 before Jeffrey's late TD). Cutler passed for a season-high 317 yards, which isn't surprising given how the Bears played from behind most of the game and much of that yardage came when the game was already out of reach. He completed 27 of 47 passes and threw two TDs in addition to the three INTs. Alshon Jeffrey was the top target, catching five passes for 107 yards. Martellus Bennett caught eight passes for 90 yards, and Brandon Marshall caught seven for 79 yards. Matt Forte ran for 95 yards on 14 carries.

Unlike prior weeks, the Bears defense couldn't bail out this team. While Wright did have an interception and the Bears recovered two fumbles, the defense didn't score and Cutler gave the ball right back to the Lions. While the defense held Calvin Johnson to 4 catches for 44 yards even with Charles Tillman hobbled, the defense didn't have an answer for Reggie Bush.

With the Bears early play they steadily climbed various publications' Power Polls as well as to the top of the NFC North standings. With this ugly loss, the Bears fall behind the Lions in the Black and Blue Division on account of the tiebreaker and will likely see their ranking among the league's elite take a hit as well. The Bears schedule certainly doesn't get any easier, as they host the undefeated (though playing tonight) New Orleans Saints next weekend.