It takes a comeback, but Bears beat Lions
During the week, the prognosis was that Drew Stanton simply wasn’t good enough to beat the Bears. No matter how strange the NFL has been this season or how much talent the Lions have at other positions, the quarterback would hold them back. After the game, I think the theory holds.
Even though the Lions had the lead with 11:55 left in the fourth quarter, Stanton had little to do with it. Stanton may have been too good against a defense that wants to be considered elite, but I’m not ready to say, “Well, if Drew Stanton tore up the Bears like this, just imagine what Tom Brady will do next week.”
Brady might slash the Bears’ secondary, but Stanton’s 102.4 passer efficiency rating is not a telling number. There are a few more things to be more worried about: things the Bears normally eliminate that the Lions ran successfully.
Stanton would have looked more Stanton-like if the Bears had controlled the things around him. Too often, Stanton found himself in 3rd-and-manageable (usually because the Bears missed a tackle or two on first or second down). He was aided by a screen game that gave the Bears some issues and a running back capable of a big play against a run defense not as stout as they have been for much of this season.
On to some bullet points:
- When ProFootballFocus.com’s charting numbers come out later this week, I’ll be curious to see how Stanton handled the blitz, especially on third down. By my count, the Bears were in the Tampa-2 on the first four third-downs they faced — only one of which they prevented the Lions from getting a new set of downs. But, Rod Marinelli seemed to dial up more blitzes as the game went along.
- Surely, this is something team beat writers have asked Lovie Smith before, but why are they always forced to take timeouts early in the game? Either I’ve just missed reading or hearing the answer, or Smith doesn’t feel the need to give one. Or, maybe both.
- Earl Bennett made a few great plays, including some great second efforts after the catch; finished the game with 7 catches for 104 yards. Perhaps, no catch was more crucial than the one he made on 3rd-and-9 in the first quarter. The rush forced Jay Cutler to get rid of it before he wanted to, but Bennett carried a tackler on his back and stretched for a first down. Before that play, the Bears’ offense had done little, even looking lost on a couple of plays. After Bennett converted though, the Bears offense steadied and went on to tie the game at seven.
- I don’t know if the Bears’ coaches saw something from the Lions’ defensive line on tape or if Cutler just didn’t have the lanes to roll to the outside, but Cutler spent less time outside the pocket than in previous weeks. Instead, the offense used the quick pass (the really, really quick pass) to make up for their offensive line’s inability to block. Either way works, Cutler’s been great doing both in the last few weeks. I’m more interested to know what the Bears saw from the Lions’ defense. The teams that the Bears have played since the bye have all been susceptible to the play-action boot pass. But, we didn’t see much of that play on Sunday, even though the run game (4.1 yards per carry) should have been solid enough to sell it.
- D.J. Moore caused some problems in the backfield for Stanton and the Lions. It’ll be interesting to see how the Bears use Moore against the Patriots. Brady doesn’t not see blitzes and the Pats have some of the best slot receivers.
- The Bears continue to run the outside stretch play with success. Rushing yards between the tackles have been nonexistent, but they’re gaining yards when Olin Kreutz and the playside tackle pull to the outside and give their backs a chance to find a cutback lane. Here’s an old article from Smart Football with details about the “Pin and Pull,” a similar play the Colts run/used to run consistently.