Lions beat Bears to keep playoff hopes alive
DETROIT — Jim Caldwell cringes at the mere mention of the playoffs. The Detroit Lions’ head coach doesn’t want his team to think about the postseason, even though they moved closer to a berth on Saturday.
Matthew Stafford tossed two touchdown passes and the Lions kept their playoff hopes alive with a 20-10 victory over the Chicago Bears at Ford Field. The Lions (8-6) need to defeat Cincinnati and Green Bay in the final two weeks of the regular season to have any realistic chance of reaching the postseason.
“That’s not our focus. We don’t talk about that stuff,” he said. “Our focus is on one thing — Cincinnati. That’s it.”
Stafford completed 25 of 33 passes for 237 yards, but the Lions mainly relied on their defense. They intercepted Bears rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky three times in the second half and limited Chicago to 43 rushing yards on 15 carries.
The Bears gashed Detroit’s run defense for 222 yards in their first meeting this season.
“Our defense played incredible today,” Stafford said. “You go out there and get those turnovers, that’s what we feed off of on offense, more chances. They got the turnovers and then just stopping that run game. That’s as good a run game as we face all year. I know our guys were looking forward to the challenge and they stood up there and shut them down.”
Eric Ebron caught five passes for 33 yards and a score for the Lions, while Marvin Jones caught three passes for 85 yards. Darius Slay intercepted two passes to lead the defense.
“Everybody (knows) this time of the year, every game counts in this league and they’re all big,” Stafford said. “There’s something about December football. People know the regular season is closing down. You’ve got to go out there and play well.”
Trubisky completed 31 of 46 passes for a career-high 314 yards and a touchdown but that was offset by the turnovers.
“We’ve got complete confidence in him,” Bears coach John Fox said. “Sometimes quarterbacks have those days. He’ll have better days. It wasn’t all on him. We just didn’t play well enough.”
Chicago’s Jordan Howard, who entered the game with 1,032 rushing yards, was limited to 37 yards on 10 carries. He also caught four passes for 26 yards for the Bears (4-10). Kendall Wright hauled in seven passes for 81 yards.
The Bears were penalized 13 times for 97 yards.
“We just didn’t start fast,” Fox said. “We had penalties, particularly on offense, to spot them 13 points in the first half. The guys battled and got semi-back into it but too little, too late.”
Slay intercepted a Trubisky pass in the opening minute of the second half. That gave Detroit a short field and it cashed in on Stafford’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Ebron for a 20-3 lead.
The Bears drove inside Detroit’s 10 early in the fourth, only to have Trubisky get picked off again by safety Quandre Diggs in the end zone.
Trubisky completed a 9-yard scoring pass to Benny Cunningham with 2:32 remaining. He picked off again by Slay on Chicago’s last possession.
The Lions led 13-3 at halftime.
Detroit settled for a pair of Matt Prater field goals from 48 and 31 yards out to grab the early lead.
Midway through the second quarter, Stafford rolled out and hit TJ Jones on a third-down pass from 3 yards out for the game’s first touchdown. Jones’ only other career touchdown came against San Francisco on Dec. 27, 2015, during his rookie season. The score was set up by Stafford’s 58-yard heave to Marvin Jones.
Chicago’s Tarik Cohen had an 89-yard kick return wiped out by a holding penalty. Another holding penalty pushed the Bears out of field-goal range late in the half.
The Bears would have been shut out in the half if not for Theo Riddick’s fumble at his 27 in the closing seconds. Mike Nugent drilled a 41-yard field goal with two seconds left.
NOTES: The Lions were missing two starting offensive linemen, C Travis Swanson (concussion) and T Rick Wagner (ankle). G T.J. Lang departed during the game with a foot injury. ... TE Adam Shaheen (chest) and S Adrian Amos (hamstring) were among the Bears’ inactives. S Chris Prosinski suffered a concussion in the first quarter. ... Detroit has won nine of the last 10 meetings. ... Lions QB Matthew Stafford became the first player to reach 34,000 passing yards before the age of 30. He needed 14 yards entering the game. ... The last time Chicago won a Saturday game was Dec. 14, 1996, against San Diego. ... Bears RB Jordan Howard has 12 100-yard games since the start of last season, tops in the NFL.