By: Will Burchfield
The Lions knew if they could stop the Bears on the ground, they’d have no trouble with Mitch Trubisky.
Point proven Saturday at Ford Field.
“Our mindset was, ‘Hey, put the ball in 10’s hands and you’ll see what happens,'” cornerback Darius Slay told NFL Network. “We stacked the box on 24 (Jordan Howard) and made the receivers and (Trubisky) try to beat us, and we came out with a victory.”
After being gouged by the Bears’ run game for 222 yards in Week 11, the Lions held them to 43 yards on the ground in the grudge match. Left to his own devices, Trubisky played like the rookie he is. He threw three interceptions — two to Slay — and finished with a passer rating of 66.8.
Detroit’s two best defensive backs said Trubisky made life easy for them.
“He stared down a lot of things, so my whole game plan was trust my first instinct and go because he’s looking at it,” said Slay. “That’s what I did.”
Said safety Glover Quin, “He was staring (his receivers) down all night. He was staring them down pre-snap and he was looking at me the whole time. Just looking right at me, trying to figure out what we were doing. He’s a young guy.”
Slay’s first interception came on the opening drive of the second half when he hauled in a Trubisky overthrow to Kendall Wright. He said he recognized the play from watching film.
“I saw it, I jumped it. Either it was going to be an incomplete pass or a complete pass to me. I just made a play on it,” said Slay. “If he would have tried to jump and catch it I would’ve smacked him right out of bounds.”
Said Trubisky, “I got it over the first guy, it sailed on me a little bit and there was another defender there to catch it. So, right place, right time for them.”
Quandre Diggs came up with the second pick, jumping in front of receiver Dontrelle Inman in the back of the end zone to keep the Lions comfortably ahead early in the fourth quarter. And then Slay grabbed his second of the day and league-leading seventh of the season with time winding down.
The three interceptions were the most Trubisky has thrown in one game. It was all part of the Lions’ plan.
“We made him throw the ball more than he wants to,” said Slay. “Last week they ran the ball pretty good on Cincinnati, but they couldn’t run the ball on us, so he had to throw it. Our goal was to make him beat us, and we knew he couldn’t do that.”
Quin said Trubisky was the least of the Lions’ worries.
“It didn’t matter about him. It was the run game. If we’d stopped the run game the first time we played them it probably would have been the same thing. We got the run game stopped today and we were able to have a good bead on him,” said Quin.
In two games versus the Lions this season, the 23-year-old Trubisky completed 49 of 76 passes for 493 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. It’ll likely be a battle for years to come, and Trubisky promises to improve.
“He’s learning,” said Slay. “He’s a great one and he’s going to get better. I can see it in him. He’s got the drive to keep working, he believes in himself and the team does. If the team’s behind his back he’ll be alright. But he did learn his lesson, though — ain’t too many times he’s gonna throw over at 23.”