There may be long-term questions for the Chicago Bears, but they at least figured out a way to defeat the winless Detroit Lions.
Chicago beat Detroit 16-14 in Thursday's NFC North clash at Ford Field. Andy Dalton led the way for the victors, who improved to 4-7 on the season and snapped a five-game losing streak even though starting quarterback Justin Fields was sidelined by a ribs injury.
The Bears marched down the field to end the game while facing a one-point deficit, and Cairo Santos drilled the winning field goal as time expired.
Jared Goff threw two touchdowns for the Lions, who fell to 0-10-1 on the season and could finish without a win once again after doing so in 2008.
Notable Player Stats
- Andy Dalton, QB, CHI: 24-of-39 passing for 317 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
- Darnell Mooney, WR, CHI: 5 catches for 123 yards
- Jimmy Graham, TE, CHI: 2 catches for 34 yards, 1 TD
- Jared Goff, QB, DET: 21-of-25 passing for 171 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs
- Josh Reynolds, WR, DET: 3 catches for 70 yards, 1 TD
Clutch Drive Wins it for Dalton, Bears
The on-field results took a backseat for the Bears leading up to Thursday's game.
Fields suffered cracked ribs during Sunday's loss to the Baltimore Ravens, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. What's more, Mark Konkol and Jeff Arnold of Patch reported Tuesday that this would be Matt Nagy's last game, although the head coach told reporters it was "not accurate."
Rapoport also reported Nagy likely will not be fired during the season, but the coaching situation overshadowed any storylines on the field going into the matchup with the Lions.
Chicago Bears @ChicagoBears
OUR BALL!<a href="https://twitter.com/trevisgipson?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@trevisgipson</a> picks it up after the Quinn sack.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CHIvsDET?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CHIvsDET</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DaBears?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DaBears</a> <a href="https://t.co/m8MVA0Cmg9">pic.twitter.com/m8MVA0Cmg9</a>
Things got even worse for the Bears when star linebacker Roquan Smith was ruled out with a hamstring injury, and Dalton threw an interception in the end zone near the end of the first half to spoil a promising drive that could have allowed the visitors to seize control.
Still, the veteran quarterback had Chicago in the lead in the second half thanks to two field-goal drives and a touchdown strike to Jimmy Graham. The defense also played well for stretches, recovering a Jared Goff fumble and bouncing back from Detroit's touchdown on its opening drive.
Yet it was the offense that was under the spotlight, and it looked bleak when the second half started with a missed field goal and two punts.
That's when the offense took over, though, using the final eight minutes and 30 seconds over the course of 19 plays in a dominant drive that helped erase a week's worth of bad headlines. Dalton was efficient and put the ball where it needed to be, and Santos buried the winning field goal in the clutch.
Lions Offense Doesn't do Enough in Win
It's hard to script a better opportunity for Detroit's first win than what it faced Thursday.
The Bears trotted out their backup quarterback and had questions circulating about their coaching situation. Throw in the fact that the game was at Ford Field, and the Lions appeared primed to finally notch a 2021 victory.
Their opening drive did nothing to change those feelings, as Goff unleashed a perfect strike to Josh Reynolds for a deep-ball touchdown to start the scoring. However, things took a turn for the worse from there when running back D'Andre Swift was ruled out with a shoulder injury, Goff lost a fumble and the offense stalled for a number of punts.
Detroit Lions @Lions
First drive, first to score!<br><br>39-yard dime from <a href="https://twitter.com/JaredGoff16?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JaredGoff16</a> to <a href="https://twitter.com/J_Rey_11?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@J_Rey_11</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CHIvsDET?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CHIvsDET</a> | 📺 FOX <a href="https://t.co/pEhozRvmJb">pic.twitter.com/pEhozRvmJb</a>
It wasn't like Detroit was facing Chicago's best defenders either, as Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks were both out, while Smith exited during the game.
Many of Goff's throws were the safe, underneath variety, although he gave the Lions the lead late in the third quarter. His second touchdown throw of the game went to T.J. Hockenson after he found an opening in the corner of the end zone, and the Lions took a one-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Yet Detroit punted on its final drive in that fourth quarter and never got the ball back because of the Bears' long drive.
While the Lions were unable to get the key defensive stop at the end of the game, 14 points against a Chicago defense that was missing Mack, Hicks and Smith was not good enough to finally get a win.
Both teams are home in Week 13, when the Bears face the Arizona Cardinals and the Lions host the Minnesota Vikings.