DETROIT – The Bears defense produced a three-and-out and a key takeaway in the first quarter of Thursday's Thanksgiving game in Detroit. But things quickly went downhill from there.
The Bears allowed the Lions to score touchdowns on three straight and four of five possessions, with drives of 78, 86, 64 and 95 yards en route to a 34-17 victory. Detroit entered the game ranked 29th in the NFL in scoring and not had produced a touchdown in its last two games.
"We've just got to stay confident and stay on top of it," said defensive end Jared Allen. "And when we're in a rhythm like that we can't allow ourselves to get out of it no matter what's going on."
Allen gave the Bears early momentum when he sacked quarterback Matthew Stafford, forcing a fumble that Allen recovered at the Detroit 5. Two plays later, Jay Cutler's 6-yard touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery gave the Bears a 14-3 lead.
But the defense couldn't stop Stafford or receiver Calvin Johnson after that. Stafford completed 34 of 45 passes for 390 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 116.0 passer rating. He was only sacked twice—both by Allen—even though the Lions were playing without two injured starting offensive linemen, left tackle Riley Reiff and right guard Larry Warford.
Johnson caught 11 passes for 146 yards and two TDs—a 25-yarder down the seam and a 6-yard fade in the left corner of the end zone to beat rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller.
"We had coverage on him hip-to-hip," said coach Marc Trestman. "Throws were accurate. He made the catches. He made some run-after-catch. He's as good as there is in this league."
With veteran cornerback Kyle Fuller out for the season with a triceps injury, Fuller covered Johnson most of the game.
"It's always difficult," Fuller said. "He's a good receiver, so you just have to go out there and compete with him. It's going to be a dogfight the whole game. He'll make a play, but you've got to go out there and make your plays."
The Lions offense played much better than it had in generating five field goals and no touchdowns in back-to-back road losses to the Cardinals and Patriots the past two Sundays.
"When they got going they took care of the football," Trestman said. "[Stafford] was extremely accurate. There weren't the drops that you had seen on tape; things that stop an offense. Usually it's more about them executing plays and doing the things they had to do and they did that today."
The Bears defense struggled mightily over the final three quarters, allowing 31 points. But Trestman refused to place all the blame on one phase of the team.
"It was extremely disappointing today, [but] I don't put it [solely] on the defense," he said. "We lose as a team here. We had opportunities to move the football, to keep drives alive, to keep the defense off the field. We just didn't play well. That's the bottom line. We didn't play well offensively. We didn't play well enough defensively to win this game."