NFL Wire News

Lions will take win any way they can get it

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The Sports Xchange

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Detroit Lions players recognized they weren’t perfect Sunday, but after an 0-5 start, they were happy to win any way it happened.

Following a 57-yard pass from quarterback Matthew Stafford to wide receiver Calvin Johnson, Lions kicker Matt Prater made a 27-yard field goal to give them a 37-34 win over the Chicago Bears with 2 minutes, 29 seconds left in overtime of a game filled with mistakes by both teams and questionable calls by the officials.

“Typically, and particularly with a team that’s gone through some of the adversity we’ve gone through, the tough thing is to battle back when things don’t go your way,” Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said. “And I think the guys came together as a unit, as a group, as a team and did that a number of times. It’s a good one to get. Now, we’ve got to get on with the next one.”

For the Lions, the best way to win the next one, which is home against Minnesota on Sunday, is to utilize a similar offensive game plan as they did against the Bears, featuring eight pass plays of 20-plus yards.

Johnson finished with six catches for 166 yards, including receptions of 57, 43 and 39 yards that were his three longest of the season. Stafford was 27 of 42 for 405 yards – his most yardage since throwing for 488 in Week 8 of 2013 – with four touchdowns and the one pick. Wide receiver Lance Moore had five catches for 106 yards, and the Lions more than doubled their season-high rushing total of 69 yards with 155 rushing yards.

“They showed up and we greatly appreciate that,” free safety Glover Quin said of the offense. “It was fun to watch. We see it in practice all the time, and we knew it was only a matter of time before they got going.”

Defensively, there were some issues as the Lions gave up 444 yards and six passes of 20-plus yards. After the Lions took a three-point lead with 21 seconds left in regulation, the defense was lost as the Bears drove to a 29-yard field goal on just three snaps – two deep passes and one long defensive pass interference.

The Lions lost two fumbles on the punt return unit, too, and as much as the win could boost their confidence moving forward, the Bears aren’t a great team and missed several opportunities to win the game.

“Well, one game does not a season make either way, so we still got work to do,” Caldwell said. “Let’s see where we are after next week.”

REPORT CARD VS. BEARS

–PASSING OFFENSE: A-minus. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson had 166 yards on six catches as the Lions finally passed downfield consistently in a 37-34 overtime win. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was good besides a couple fourth-quarter mistakes and finished 27 of 42 for 405 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. Wide receiver Lance Moore added five catches for 106 yards, and the Lions had eight passes of 20-plus yards.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: B-plus. The Lions more than doubled their season-best rushing total with 155 yards on 32 carries. Running back Ameer Abdullah led the team with 14 carries for 48 yards, but was benched in the second half after a fumble. Running back Theo Riddick was good with seven carries for 28 yards, and quarterback Matthew Stafford ran for 37 yards.

–PASS DEFENSE: D. The Lions sacked quarterback Jay Cutler just once and created little pressure as the Bears had 353 passing yards. Plus, Chicago drove easily against the Lions on the final drive of regulation, needing just three snaps to set up a 29-yard field goal on a 21-second drive. One plus was an interception by Lions cornerback Rashean Mathis, but the team allowed eight catches for 147 yards to Chicago receiver Alshon Jeffery.

–RUSH DEFENSE: B. Chicago running back Matt Forte had just 69 yards on 24 carries as the Lions held the Bears to 91 rushing yards and 2.9 yards per carry overall. After being weak against the run last week, the Lions were much better, though they allowed two touchdowns.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus. There were definitely highlights as Matt Prater made all three field goals, the Lions converted a fake punt with a 30-yard direct-snap run by safety Isa Abdul-Quddus and Sam Martin averaged 55.3 yards per punt. But, wide receivers TJ Jones and Corey Fuller each gave away turnovers on the punt-return unit, which were costly second-half errors.

–COACHING: C. To keep the Lions focused in the face of an 0-6 start was impressive, but head coach Jim Caldwell’s conservative approach nearly cost the Lions a chance to win. He chose to kick a field goal when the team was down seven with 2:50 remaining instead of going for it on fourth-and-4. It worked as the Lions forced a three-and-out and scored a touchdown, but it was still a questionable decision. Offensively, coordinator Joe Lombardi called a good game to take advantage of a weak Chicago secondary.


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