By Dan Hasty,Detroit Lions Radio Network
The Lions improved to 3-1 after picking up a 40-32 win over the Chicago Bears Sunday at Ford Field. After posting a record of 0-6 within their division last year, they’ve won their first two games against NFC North teams to begin 2013. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who had won 7 of 8 games against the Lions, threw only one interception in those games. Sunday, Detroit picked off Cutler three times while forcing a fumble returned for a touchdown in the process.
I recently spent a few minutes with Amy Lawrence of CBS Sports Radio talking about the victory. Hear it HERE.
While the Lions start has been a nice surprise, we have a few items that shouldn’t be overlooked:
1. Louis Delmas: Productive and healthy.
We’re four games into the season, and the Lions have what looks to be a fresh ‘LouDel’. Having success without him last year was nearly impossible. In Sunday’s win, Delmas made an exceptional interception, stepping in front of a Cutler bullet-pass over the middle during the closing minutes of the first quarter. Later in the game, Delmas would add his second pick, nearly doubling his career total (3) in one afternoon.
While Delmas doesn’t fill up stat sheets, the eye test has always shown his effect on the Lions defense to be substantial. This year, the Lions have figured out how to keep him on the field. It’s no coincidence that a healthy Delmas is the reason the Lions have won three of their first four games.
2. The Bears need Henry Melton like people need air.
Milton, given his teams’ franchise tag last off-season, almost single-handedly shut down opposing running games during the past two seasons. It’s clear his affect on the Bears defense is similar to Delmas for the Lions. Milton is a Pro Bowler, and an anchor for Chicago with a string of dominance against the Lions.
During the last two seasons, Melton racked up a total of 13 sacks. While he hasn’t gotten to Stafford much, the defensive tackle shut down the Lions run game. Heading into last Sunday, the Bears held the Lions under 100 total rushing yards three straight times. Without Melton, Detroit racked up 159 yards, its highest rushing total vs. Chicago since Javhid Best carved up the Bears in the Week 5 Monday Night Football contest in 2011.
3. A huge play from special teams.
Did I see that right? There were no flags? It feels like the last time we saw a Lions return man making plays, it was Mel Gray. Certainly, Michael Spurlock is no Eddie Drummond circa 2004, but the value of his 57-yard punt return cannot be understated.
With the Lions trailing 10–9, Detroit forced a Bears punt. At the time, the Lions ended up with field goals despite making three trips into the Chicago red-zone. Next thing you know, Spurlock nearly ran the second quarter punt back for a touchdown. The Lions got the ball at Chicago’s 22, and only needed four plays to get in the end zone. Spurlock played a part, albeit a small one, in why Detroit’s starting field position was their own 43-yard line. That explains how a team scores 40 points on the Chicago Bears Defense.