Chicago Bears vs. Detroit Lions: Live Score, Highlights and Analysis
Here we are, Week 17 of the NFL season, and we have upon us the end of the season for one or both of these teams. The Bears need a win to survive in the playoff race, and the Lions need to snap a seven-game losing streak.
Keep it here as the Bears chase the playoffs and Calvin Johnson chases 2,000 yards. This one has plenty to keep an eye on.
Current Score: Bears 26, Lions 24 (Mid 4th Quarter)
Final Score: Bears 26, Lions 24
That's going to wrap up the regular season for the Lions, and the Bears' season continues, either to next week or to the conclusion of the Packers/Vikings game.
It's pretty much a complete disappointment for the Lions, who couldn't get Calvin Johnson to 2,000 yards or end their losing streak, which now stands at eight and will until next season.
The Bears did what they needed to do, but they might have raised more questions than answers in an exceedingly sloppy game. They won by two against a 4-12 team, in a game where they were plus-four in turnover margin.
The Bears certainly can win games on their defense, but the storyline for now is whether that will be enough for them in a playoff situation.
But the question before even that is whether they make the playoffs at all. For the answer to that question, check out the Packers/Vikings game, starting right about now.
For the Lions, it's finally time to focus on the offseason, and with this loss, the Lions are guaranteed a top-five pick in the 2013 NFL Draft and post an 0-6 record in the NFC North.
But really, what was most frustrating about this game for the Lions is that they lost it the same way they lost all their games. They played well for about half the game, put themselves in a position to win after avoiding a total blowout, and failed to convert with the game on the line.
It's a bitter taste to take into the offseason, but perhaps that will serve to re-focus a team that suffered such disappointment after a taste of the playoffs in 2011.
But regardless of the way the rest of today's games turn out, both these teams have plenty of questions moving forward, and neither is likely satisfied with what they saw on the field today.
Still, the Bears have something left to cheer for, while the Lions just need to debrief, regroup, and start looking forward to next September.
On third down, Jay Cutler comes up huge.
Cutler has done a good job of using his legs all day, and he comes up with a 19-yard run here on 3rd-and-3, and that keeps the drive alive.
After that, an effort play by Matt Forte gets the Bears the first down before the two-minute warning, and the win after three more kneel-downs.
That's going to do it for the Lions' season. Another disappointing loss, and Calvin Johnson will fall short of 2,000 yards. It's a total win for the Bears, who now just need a Packers win to send them to the playoffs.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Bears put matters into their defense's hands, and Tim Jennings comes up big with a pass breakup on third down.
The Lions punt from their own end zone, and now the Bears can try running the clock down.
With just under four minutes left, the Lions have all three timeouts. This game isn't over, but it's back to being advantage: Bears.
Well, here we go. The Bears offense can't respond to the Lions' scoring drive, and now the Lions have four minutes and 38 seconds to drive down the field for a go-ahead field goal or touchdown from their own nine-yard line.
It looked like a defensive stop, but an awkward slide by Matthew Stafford was met with three Bears defenders and a subsequent flag.
That keeps the Lions' drive alive, and a couple passes later, we're back to a two-point game with lots of time left.
Stafford now has three touchdown passes in this game, to Kris Durham, Will Heller, and now Brian Robiske. Don't let anyone tell you Stafford can't get the job done without Calvin Johnson.
Current Score: Bears 26, Lions 24 (Mid 4Q)
Field Goal Bears!
The Bears needed to respond to the Lions' scoring drives, and they finally did, putting the pressure squarely back on the Lions.
It's back to being a two-possession game, even though the Bears have once again failed to score a touchdown in the red zone.
Still, it was a good drive for the Bears to give themselves a little more cushion and re-claim some momentum. Now they put the game back in the hands of their defense, which is right where they want it.
Current Score: Bears 26, Lions 17 (10:47 4Q)
At the end of the third quarter, Calvin Johnson is 36 yards from 2,000 yards, Matthew Stafford is 100 yards from 5,000 yards, and the Chicago Bears are 15 minutes from keeping their playoff hopes alive.
The Lions are within striking distance, but the offense appears to have fallen back out of sync, as a three-and-out gives the ball back to the Bears with a chance to make this a two-possession game. If they can do that, the clock will start becoming a factor.
Field Goal Bears!
And again, the Lions fumble away a huge chance. Mikel Leshoure can't handle the handoff from Matthew Stafford, and the Bears take advantage.
However, the Bears took over inside the red zone, and once against could not score a touchdown. It's still a one-possession game, and the Lions will try again to take the lead, largely due to their defense keeping them around.
Current Score: Bears 23, Lions 17 (Late 3Q)
On 3rd-and-1, the Bears go to Matt Forte.
And so do about four Lions defenders.
The Bears' offense stalls once again, and now it is Lions' ball with a chance to tie or take the lead.
That said, remember that the Lions offense has to take on the Bears defense, which might actually be a more prolific scoring unit than the Bears offense.
But either way, the intrigue is back. Also, Calvin Johnson could reach 2,000 yards on this drive.
Matthew Stafford, Will Heller, 10 yards, and a touchdown.
And just like that, the Bears are wishing they'd gotten touchdowns instead of field goals. It's a three-point game, the Lions offense is hot, and the Bears' offense seems out of sync.
Midway through the third quarter, we have a close ball game, and the Bears should start playing with urgency if they want to re-claim momentum.
Current Score: Bears 20, Lions 17 (Mid 3Q)
There's Calvin Johnson's third and fourth catches of the game. Johnson now needs 43 more yards for 2,000.
Also, the Lions now find themselves in the red zone, with a chance to give the Bears a serious "uh-oh."
After stringing a couple of first downs together, the Lions defense finally stood up before letting the Bears cross midfield.
It'll be Lions ball from the 20-yard line, and they can cut this lead to one-possession with a score here.
Of course, it's exactly this kind of situation where the Lions have stalled in recent weeks, especially in the third quarter. They can make this a close game and put pressure on the Bears, but will they?
All told, that might have been the worst half of football the Lions have played all season. Turnovers, sloppy play, and unforced errors plagued the team in the first half.
For the Bears, it's impossible to ask for any more out of the defense. The offense hasn't been bad, but the reason this game is even reasonably close is because they keep having to settle for field goals.
Ultimately, this isn't a pretty game for either team thus far. The only unit truly playing to its potential is the Bears defense, and that is arguably the difference in the game.
The Bears receive the kickoff in the second half, and they'll want to sustain some offense to make sure the Lions can't seize momentum.
Current Score: Bears 20, Lions 10 (Start 3Q)
Just like that, we're back to having a ball game.
A 25-yard pass from Matthew Stafford to Kris Durham caps off the first half, and puts the Lions back within striking distance.
It's still a two-possession game, but the Lions are going to feel a lot better going into halftime down 10 after turning the ball over three times in the first half.
Current Score: Bears 20, Lions 10 (Halftime)
Field Goal Bears!
The Bears are in complete control, but the Lions defense deserves some credit.
After a multitude of turnovers have put the Lions defense in bad situations repeatedly, the Lions have effectively been able to limit the Bears' points.
That's the difference between the Bears being comfortable in this game and simply running away with a laugher.
Current Score: Bears 20, Lions 3 (Late 2Q)
Okay folks, after some technical difficulties, on my end here's the situation.
The Lions can't move the ball on this Bears defense, they've now turned the ball over three times, the Bears capitalized on a turnover with a touchdown, and the Bears are dominating an extremely sloppy game.
Calvin Johnson has no more catches, but Tim Jennings just added to his league-leading interception total with an easy catch off a lazy back-footed Matthew Stafford throw.
It's a two-touchdown Bears lead, and Chicago's defense appears to have taken full control of this game at the two minute warning.
Current Score: Bears 17, Lions 3 (2:00 in 2Q)
Field Goal Bears!
Joique Bell fumbles the kickoff after a huge blindside hit, and the Bears take over deep in Lions territory.
But a great defensive stand by the Lions prevents this game from getting out of hand early. We're still within one possession, though the Bears are dominating via turnovers.
Current Score: Bears 10, Lions 3 (Late 1Q)
Field Goal Lions!
The Lions drove into scoring position with some balanced offense, but after a tuck-rule fumble was called an incomplete pass, the Lions were able to capitalize with a 44-yard field goal.
And while I was talking about that,
Jay Cutler to Earl Bennett on a screen pass plus terrible defensive angles by the Lions equals 60 yards and a touchdown.
Current Score: Bears 7, Lions 3 (Late 1Q)
Two catches for Calvin Johnson on this drive thus far, and he now has 85 yards to go for 2,000 yards.
So after a Lions three-and out, the Bears respond with a 55-yard pass from Jay Cutler to Alshon Jeffery on the their first offensive play of the game.
Presumably, that would have resulted in points for the Bears. But on an ensuing third down, Cutler dropped an unforced fumble while rolling out.
The fumble was initially recovered (and then dropped) by Kyle Vanden Bosch, and eventually recovered by the Bears... at the 50-yard line.
So the Bears punted from midfield on 4th-and-33. And something tells me that's what this game is going to look like, as we near the midway point of the first quarter.
The Lions will start with the football, after the Bears win the coin toss and defer. And back to receive the opening kickoff is... Joique Bell.
The Lions' usual return man, Stefan Logan, is not injured, but a series of mental errors in recent weeks seem to have him in the dog house.
And Bell just returned the opening kick past the 30-yard line, which doesn't help Logan's case, either.
At least Lions fans can appreciate the lone bright spot of the season.
Megatron comes out last, even after Stafford, and gets a standing ovation.— Dave Hogg (@Stareagle) December 30, 2012
One thing that is going to get particular attention here is Calvin Johnson chasing the NFL's first 2,000-yard receiving season. That and "will the Bears make the playoffs" are the only real long-term stories here.
This entire blog will cover the latter, as the Bears need to win to even have a shot at the playoffs. But as for Megatron's quest, expect updates every time he catches a pass, though that could get tedious at his current clip.
Inactives for both teams, via NFL.com
Inactive players are always interesting in Week 17. Should the Bears sneak into the playoffs, this list is interesting to see who might be available for their game next week. Brian Urlacher is aging, but missing him still impacts the Bears' defense.
For the Lions, looking at inactive players in the last week of a lost season is sometimes a tip-off to what they're thinking about doing in the offseason. After 31 consecutive starts, the Lions deactivated Julian Peterson for the final game of the 2010 season, which was a precursor to his being released in the offseason.
If that holds, Drayton Florence, Kevin Smith and Ricardo Silva might want to start updating their resumes.
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