The First Battle Between Both Teams This Year Comes At A Crucial Point In The Season For Detroit.
For the first time in team history, the Detroit Lions are looking to defeat all three NFC North teams on the road. While Minnesota and Green Bay are gone, Chicago was the final stepping stone to complete that feat. Detroit needed the win to stay in the race for the division title and to keep their playoff hopes alive. It wouldn’t be an easy game as playing at Chicago is always tough and with it being cold and windy, it was an interesting game.
Matt Stafford was getting hit often and you could see the pain it caused, but that didn’t stop him from doing good. Stafford had a few misthrows but finished going 21/31 for 299 yards and two touchdowns.
Stop me if you heard this one before, the Lions struggled to run the football. Ameer Abdullah led in carries with 11 for 22 yards, while Theo Riddick had two fewer carries with nine for the 35 yards. Dwayne Washington was out and Zach Zenner stepped in and only helped when it came to pass blocking.
The three leading receivers for Detroit were Marvin Jones, TJ Jones and surprisingly Eric Ebron with four each, but M. Jones was the leader in yards with 85 and a touchdown. TJ was next in yardage with 55, and Ebron with 49. Kenny Golladay had two big catches for 52 yards. Tate was held in check for just 32 yards on three catches, and Abdullah had two catches for 13 yards and a touchdown.
The offensive line had a mixed type of play. It was the first game where all five starters started as T.J. Lang returned from his concussion and Taylor Decker played every snap for the first time this season. They let Stafford get sacked three times, he got hit often and the run game couldn’t get going against this tough Bears defense.
The defensive line wasn’t impactful at all as they could only get one sack and they let the Bears run all over them as they allowed the Bears to run for 203 yards. It showed again this week that while on limited snaps, Ziggy Ansah is a big part of the defensive line. Akeem Spence led the group in tackles with four, one for loss, while Cornelius Washington was the only guy to get a sack.
Linebackers struggled in helping the defensive line stop the run and they missed some key tackles. Tahir Whitehead led the team in tackles with nine, one for loss and Jarrad Davis struggled in coverage and had poor tackling, finishing with four tackles.
Passing the ball for Chicago was tougher than running it as the Lions defense held the Bears to just 179 passing yards and with a mistake by Trubisky on a bobbled snap, he fumbled the ball and cornerback D.J. Hayden was able to pick it up and score in the first quarter, giving the team a boost they desperately needed. Darius Slay was at it again, with three tackles and two pass deflections, proving his Pro Bowl bid.
Special Teams was quiet on the day as Sam Martin had four punts for 172 yards, three landing inside the 20-yard line. Matt Prater made both of his field goal attempts, the longest from 52 yards out, and Jamal Agnew had three punt returns for 23 yards and four kick returns for 74 yards, Abdullah had one kick return for 15 yards.
Week 11: What It Means
The NFC North race is getting tighter. The Minnesota Vikings were able to win against the Rams in week 11, and with the Lions win they are still up by two in the division with their Thanksgiving game going to possibly extend or shrink the lead instead of it being a first-place battle. Green Bay lost to Baltimore, putting them back another game and giving the Lions a game and the tiebreaker advantage over the Packers.
Even when he was on limited snaps, the defensive line did better with Ansah out there. The Browns and Bears were able to run through the defensive line and they haven’t given much of an update on Ansah as he is now dealing with a back injury. His return would be a big help to the line.
Golladay being on the field has given Detroit more chances to throw downfield. Golladay was targeted and called for an offensive pass interference, but Stafford later took a shot to TJ Jones that was also incomplete. This team didn’t take too many shots when Golladay was out, now with him back it expands the offense and gives them a bigger field to play with.
Week 11: What To Think About
Stopping the run game has been an issue for the past few weeks for the Lions. What started off as an impressive defensive line that had no big players except for Ansah that could stop the run, has been shown their true colors in the last few weeks and if Detroit is going to win big games, stopping or at least containing the running game is going to be needed.
Along with stopping the opposing teams running game, Detroit has to get theirs going. It has been the storyline all season long as it has been the main weakness in the offense. Detroit also needs to get the ground game going if they want to win big games down the road.
Agnew had a horrible game on returns, fumbling twice and almost fumbling on the opening kickoff. While he has been impressive in his rookie year, returning kicks and holding onto the football is something he needs to improve. Sure it didn’t cost the team a game, but it could in the future if it isn’t addressed.