By Chris Morgan
Early on in their home game against the Chicago Bears, the bounces were really going the Lions way. They led 30-13 at halftime, and in the fourth quarter they took a 40-16 lead. It felt like the game would be a blowout win for Detroit. Maybe they wanted to give their fans some stress and angst, because late in the game they proceeded to let up points by the boatload to the Bears. The score got all the way to 40-32, with the Bears just needing to recover an onside kick to get the chance to tie the game. However, Kris Durham fell on the ball, and the Lions held on to win the game and take the lead in the NFC North. Here are the grades for Detroit’s win over Chicago, grades that would have been much higher had the game only ended 10 minutes earlier.
Quarterback Grade: B
For a game where his team put 40 points on the board, Matthew Stafford’s numbers weren’t all that impressive. He only threw for 242 yards on 23 for 35 passing. He threw a touchdown to Calvin Johnson, and he also rushed for a score wherein he fumbled the ball and then caught it again on the way to the ground. He also threw an interception, but it was not his fault, as it took a couple funky bounces before it landed in Chicago’s hands. He also had a fumble that was lost, which was his fault.
The Bears have a tough defense, but Stafford made their job a bit easier by making a lot of bad throws. He was off on a lot of his passes, and it was up to others to pick up the slack to win this game. Overall, a decent performance.
Offense Grade: B+
While Stafford and the passing game didn’t do much, Reggie Bush returned to action for this contest, and was his presence ever welcomed. Bush ran for 139 yards and a touchdown on a mere 18 carries, and he caught four passes for 34 yards as well. A lot of his plays were quite impressive, as he was juking and spinning and making the game quite exciting. Joique Bell didn’t do much, but he helped a bit in the passing game, as he usually does. However, he also fumbled the ball late, and if he had just held on the Lions could have run the clock out more than likely and they wouldn’t have had to sweat this one out.
Kris Durham led the team with 58 yards receiving. Brandon Pettigrew had a good game, catching all seven passes thrown his way for 54 yards and fumbling zero times. Calvin Johnson only had four catches for 44 yards and a score, as Stafford missed him a few times. Bush pushed this offensive performance to a high enough level to score quite a few points. Brian Billick kept talking about style points during this game. Bush certainly earned some of those.
Special Teams Grade: B+
David Akers had a big day, going 4 for 4 on field goals and 4 for 4 on extra points. Sam Martin punted well. Michael Spurlock actually had a big punt return for once. The Lions kept Devin Hester in check, which isn’t as impressive as it once was but is still worth noting. A solid performance all around.
Defense Grade: B
Until late, this was going to be a much higher grade. Then the Lions let the Bears score two late touchdowns and convert two two-point conversions. The defense let up 32 points and 417 yards. On the other hand, they picked up three sacks, three interceptions, and Nick Fairley picked up a Jay Cutler fumble and returned it for a touchdown.
Back in the day, the Bears and Cutler were known for performances like this, but in the first three games of the season Chicago had been good at protecting Cutler and he had been avoiding turnovers. The Lions got the better of them in this game, but you’ve got to knock them down a peg for the late game near comeback.
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Chris Morgan has been a diehard Detroit Lions fan through the good (Barry Sanders) and the bad (Matt Millen) and that love has led him to take jobs writing about sports, including as a fantasy sports “expert.” His work can be found on Examiner.com. .