Bears vs. Lions: Detroit's Biggest Winners and Losers from NFL Week 17
But after an eight-game losing streak marked with disappointments, it's nice to know the season won't allow the streak to extend to nine.
Still, there are some guys who played well in this game, and regardless how disappointing the loss, they deserve credit along with all the blame about to be tossed around.
We'll start this week with a controversial one.
Winner: Matthew Stafford
This is going to bring some ire, because Stafford didn't have a great game overall.
He turned the ball over, made bad decisions, and...threw three touchdowns to bring the Lions back in a game that seemed lost before halftime.
The problem with crediting Stafford is that the hole the Lions fell into early is partially Stafford's fault, and when the game was on the line, Stafford couldn't close the deal.
But after this game, nobody should have any questions about Stafford's raw ability. He can throw the ball, he can score points. He has the arm and the ability to be a really good quarterback.
What he needs is to spend the offseason watching films and refining his mental and technical flaws. If he does that, he has everything else in place to improve on an inconsistent 2012 season, and he showed it in this game, even with a ragtag bunch of receivers.
Loser: Jim Schwartz
Nothing kills the goodwill of a successful rebuilding effort and playoff run like following it up with a 4-12 season capped by an eight-game losing streak.
Somehow, Jim Schwartz needed only 12 months to go from beloved to reviled, though his job is ostensibly safe through at least next season.
A win against Chicago would have alleviated that a little bit, but now Schwartz is the man who stood at the helm of a disappointing season and eight-game losing streak.
A more astute observer would see how the Lions fought back while down three possessions in a meaningless game and credit Schwartz for keeping his team together, even through adversity.
But all anyone will remember in the offseason is that the Lions couldn't win a game over the latter half of the season, and that's going to reflect poorly on Schwartz.
Winner: Mikel Leshoure
At this point, what the Lions are looking for is guys they can build around for next season.
Though Mikel Leshoure fumbled a handoff in this game, and much of his season was understated statistically, Leshoure got visibly better throughout the season, and he had a very solid game against a good Bears defense.
Though he may never have big-play potential, Leshoure has the most important attribute for a running back: the ability to make the first guy miss.
Leshoure did that repeatedly against Chicago, which is a good tackling team. That's a good sign for a guy who just finished playing his first NFL season.
Loser: Stefan Logan
Today, the Lions' returners were Joique Bell and Mike Thomas.
Stefan Logan played on the return team, but you have to wonder if that was the only reason he was anywhere within miles of the team.
Logan's last two seasons have seemingly gotten progressively worse by the game, and it culminated with a downed free kick on the 4-yard line last week.
That was the straw that moved Logan out of the return role and likely off the team by March.
Worse yet, Bell actually performed reasonably well as a kick returner, which just makes Logan that much more expendable.
Winner: Team Defense
The Lions' defense, particularly the secondary, has been under fire for much of the season, and mostly understandably.
But it turned in a mostly stellar performance in this game, holding down the Bears' most dangerous weapons and forcing them into field goals despite turnovers putting them on a short field.
Considering the circumstances, the defense may have posted its best performance of the season.
That's cold comfort, considering many of the components in the defense are heading for free agency. But maybe it will give the Lions at least some confidence in their defensive system.
Or maybe it just means the Bears are an atrocious offensive team.
Loser: Louis Delmas
Louis Delmas is a fine player, and the only thing he had to play for this late in the season is to show he can stay on the field.
Delmas couldn't even finish this game. He played sporadically in the second half and will almost certainly need some sort of knee treatment in the offseason.
Going into his first free-agency period, Delmas' inability to stay healthy in this game reflects his inability to stay healthy this season, which reflects his inability to stay healthy throughout his NFL career.
That's going to change the price Delmas is likely to command this offseason. That might make it more likely that Delmas stays in Detroit. But if he can't stay on the field, does it really matter?
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