DETROIT – Outscored 41-0 in the first quarter in their previous six games, the Bears finally got off to the fast start they so desperately needed Thursday in Detroit, jumping to a quick 14-3 lead.
It was what happened after the first quarter, however, that led to the end of their modest two-game winning streak and further quashed their already slim playoff hopes. The Lions outscored the Bears 31-3 over the final three periods, cruising to a 34-17 Thanksgiving victory at Ford Field.
View photos from the game as the Bears take on the Lions at Ford Field.
"We didn't play well enough to win today," said coach Marc Trestman. "It's very disappointing. Our guys had to work very hard to try to pick ourselves up from the last three weeks and get to this point and we didn't get it done today on either the offensive or defensive side of the ball."
With the loss, the Bears fell to 5-7, dropping further behind the Packers (8-3) and Lions (8-4) in the NFC North, and virtually assuring that they will miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season and the seventh time in eight years since they advanced to Super Bowl XLI.
In the pivotal second quarter Thursday, the Lions scored touchdowns on three straight possessions, turning a 14-3 deficit into a 24-14 halftime lead.
Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery had connected on touchdown passes of 10 and 6 yards, staking the Bears to the early lead. The second came after Jared Allen sacked Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford from behind, forcing a fumble that Allen recovered at the Detroit 5.
But the Lions, who had not scored a touchdown on 25 straight possessions over three games, produced consecutive TD drives of 78, 86 and 64 yards.
"We had a fast start, which was good," Trestman said. "[But] we couldn't sustain offensively. They did a good job defensively. We made the stops early and then they got on a roll and really made their money throwing the football and moving it around. Credit to them."
In the first half, Stafford completed 22 of 26 passes for 275 yards with two touchdowns and a 136.4 passer rating, with Calvin Johnson catching nine passes for 109 yards and two TDs. Stafford finished the game passing for 390 yards with two TDs, no interceptions and a 116.0 rating.
The Bears opened the second half with a 13-play, 63-yard drive, but they had to settle for Robbie Gould's 35-yard field goal, closing the gap to 24-17.
The Lions eventually answered, however, on Joique Bell's 1-yard TD run on the first play of the fourth quarter, capping a 12-play, 95-yard drive and giving Detroit a 31-17 cushion.
"We just didn't do enough," Trestman said. "It starts with me. I'm looking inside and accepting accountability for this loss. We just couldn't get it done and didn't have enough ammunition to stop them or continue drives. We couldn't overcome the adversity that we had over the course of the game, and matching score-for-score, we couldn't do that."
Down by two touchdowns entering the fourth quarter, the Bears abandoned their short passing game and took some shots down the field. One of those throws by Cutler intended for Brandon Marshall was tipped by Darius Slay and intercepted by Glover Quin at the Chicago 42.
The Lions converted their first takeaway of the game into Matt Prater's 40-yard field goal, increasing their lead to 34-17 with 6:16 left in the fourth quarter.
Cutler completed 31 of 48 passes for 280 yards with two touchdowns, two interceptions and a 76.7 passer rating. His second pick came on a desperation throw into the end zone intended for Marquess Wilson on the final play of the game. Cutler was sacked three times.
"It's difficult on any quarterback to throw the ball that much, especially with a pass rush like that," Trestman said. "I thought he did a good job of standing in there. He did the best he could.
"As I said, we didn't have enough to get it done. We got down by two scores and felt we had to throw it a little bit more. We didn't convert. We didn't complete the ones we needed to complete. We had some shots down the field. We didn't get that done either."