Opponent: Detroit Lions
Record: 10-6 (3-3)
11-5 (5-1) Green Bay Packers
10-6 (4-2) Minnesota Vikings
4-12 (0-6) Detroit Lions
Note: I actually wrote this about a week ago...I just kept forgetting to post it.
Again, Charleen and I were still out of town and with New Years, writing this post hasn't been high on my priority list. Happy New Year everyone! Anyway, the Bears needed a win against Detroit coupled with a Vikings loss to get into the playoffs. The Bears did their part, but unfortunately the Vikings did what they needed to get themselves into the playoffs. Congrats to them, they played a good game against Green Bay. Anyway, back to the Bears game.
It was a bit of a mixed bag. We got 26 points, had 389 total yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions. On the surface, those look like some pretty good stats. Unfortunately we were in the red zone 4 times and only got 1 touchdown when we were there. Yes Detroit has a good defense, but when you win the turnover ratio 4-0, you should win by more than 2 points. Now for a little bad news, good news. The Lions held Brandon Marshall to only 5 catches and 42 yards when he was targeted 14 times. The good news is that Earl Bennett caught all 5 of his targets for 109 yards, and Alshon Jeffery caught 4 of 7 targets for 76 yards. I don't remember if the majority of Marshall's targets were earlier in the game or throughout, but this spread of catches is the most balanced of any game this year. I'm hoping that next season we can start this way. I think injuries really hindered Bennett and Jeffery from stepping up as second and third receiving threats this season. After an off season working with Marshall and Cutler, those three could be a very scary receiving threat for opposing defenses to cover. Overall the offense did a pretty good job, it just would have been nice to get into the end zone a bit more.
The D held Calvin Johnson to 5 catches and 72 yards. They didn't shut him down quite as much as they did in their last meeting, but keeping him well under 100 yards is quite an accomplishment. Where they were really struggling is in the red zone. Detroit was 2/2 in the red zone for getting touchdowns. If I remember correctly, on both of those touchdowns, Detroit targeted our rookie safety. Chris Conte was out with a hamstring injury and his replacement was debuting in his first NFL start. It showed and Detroit took advantage of this on both of their red zone visits. Our Defense made up for these mishaps with 4 turnovers. Again, like the offense, it was a mixed showing, but overall positive.
Hester has not been Hester all year. His kick returns are decent, but he averaged 2 yards on three punt returns. We also had one missed field goal. Orlando Mare is better than Green Bay's kicker, but he's no Robbie Gould.
Overall, it was a typical Bears division game. Nail biter, closer than it has any right to be, and pretty fun to watch. I'll be posting about what happened on Monday, Lovie Smith fired, at a later time.