After watching tape of the Bears' 16-14 Thanksgiving win over the Lions, here are three things that stood out to coach Matt Nagy in the game:
(1) Nagy praised offensive coordinator Bill Lazor for the play calls he made on the Bears' game-winning drive.
Trailing 14-13, the Bears marched 69 yards on 18 plays to set up Cairo Santos' game-winning 28-yard field goal as time expired, burning the final 8:30 off the clock. Lazor called seven passes and seven runs before three straight quarterback kneel-downs took the clock down to :01.
Andy Dalton completed 4 of 6 passes for 39 yards and had a 9-yard scramble, while David Montgomery rushed for 17 yards on six carries and Khalil Herbert had a 5-yard rush. Said Nagy: "Just a good mix of balance of run and pass. I thought Bill did a good job of keeping that going. We had some nice runs from under center, the scramble that Andy had, but just a good mix."
After Dalton's 7-yard pass to Damiere Byrd on third-and-4 resulted in a first down at the Lions' 4, the Bears called for the three straight kneel-downs because Detroit had just one timeout remaining and Nagy wanted to give Santos a chance to kick the winning field goal as time expired.
"I thought our coaches did a good job of communicating and then the players executing it," Nagy said. "We practice it and we talk about it every single week and it doesn't always happen. It's a risk. If you don't make that field goal, I'm the one that has to go up to that podium. That's a risk. Usually it ends up working for you."
(2) Nagy was impressed with how the seldom-used Byrd stepped up after injuries thinned out the Bears' receiving corps.
With Allen Robinson II already sitting out his second straight game with a hamstring injury, the Bears were further depleted at receiver when Marquise Goodwin exited Thursday's contest with a foot injury. That gave Byrd expanded playing time, and the six-year NFL veteran took advantage of the opportunity, catching four passes for 42 yards. Byrd made a pair of clutch plays to sustain the Bears' game-winning scoring drive with receptions of 13 yards on third-and-five and seven yards on third-and-4.
In his first year with the Bears, Byrd had just five receptions for 32 yards prior to Thursday's game after establishing career highs with 47 catches for 604 yards last year with the Patriots. "I'm super happy for Damiere," Nagy said. "[He's] a true pro. He does everything you ask. He stays in his lane. He's somebody that we trust immensely. I think he deserves a lot of credit. He had some big-time catches yesterday, a couple of them on scrambles and then the one at the end there. That's who he is. He's a really good player. I think he fits a great role for us."
(3) Nagy liked what he saw from a defense that held the Lions to 14 points.
An injury-depleted Bears defense yielded a season-low 239 total yards, but more importantly, the unit limited the Lions to 14 points. The Bears are 4-0 when allowing 14 or fewer points and 0-7 when permitting more than 14 points. "Thought the defense, really for most of the game, did a great job with the possessions that they had," Nagy said.
Lions quarterback Jared Goff was efficient in completing 21 of 25 passes for 171 yards with two touchdowns and a 121.8 passer rating. The TDs of 39 yards to receiver Josh Reynolds and 17 yards to tight end T.J. Hockenson gave Detroit a 14-13 lead, but Goff's 171 yards were the fewest by a starting quarterback against the Bears this season.
The Bears defense played without injured starters Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks and Danny Trevathan and lost Roquan Smith in the first half with a hamstring injury. Those who stepped up in their absence included outside linebackers Robert Quinn and Trevis Gipson, who teamed up to produce the Bears' only takeaway. As Quinn was sacking Goff, Gipson punched the ball loose and recovered it. The Bears nearly had a second takeaway on a similar play when cornerback Jaylon Johnson punched the ball away from running back D'Andre Swift after a 3-yard reception, but safety Tashaun Gipson Sr. had one foot out of bounds when he scooped up the fumble.
Check out the best images—taken by Bears photographers—from Thursday's Thanksgiving Day win over the Lions in Detroit.