DETROIT – Looking to build on last Sunday's impressive win over the Bengals, the Bears instead took a step in the wrong direction with a deflating 20-10 loss to the Lions Saturday at Ford Field.
Plagued by a stagnant offense and a slew of costly penalties, the Bears fell behind 13-0 in the second quarter and 20-3 early in the second half in dropping to 4-10 on the season.
"We just didn't start fast," said coach John Fox. "We had penalties, particularly on offense. The guys battled and kind of semi got back into it, but I think it was a little bit too little, too late."
The Bears have now lost eight straight games to NFC North opponents dating back to last season and have dropped nine of their last 10 to the Lions since 2013. They're also assured of four straight double-digit losing seasons for the first time since 1997-2000.
On Saturday, an offense that produced season highs with 33 points, 482 yards and 29 first downs last Sunday in Cincinnati struggled from the outset. The unit did not cross the 50 until 2:00 remained in the first half, reach the red zone until the fourth quarter or score a touchdown until there was 2:32 left in the game.
Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky passed for a career-high 314 yards and one touchdown, but the first-round pick also threw three interceptions—all in the second half—for the first time as a pro.
"Mitch had some really good throws and then we had a couple errant ones, just looking at it by the naked eye," Fox said. "I saw maybe some of the better ones I've seen him throw all season. But you don't want to go into a game with three picks."
The Bears struggled on the ground, mustering just 43 yards on 15 carries after rushing for 222 yards on 30 attempts in their first meeting with the Lions Nov. 19 at Soldier Field.
The Bears constantly shot themselves in the foot, committing 13 penalties for 97 yards—both season highs. The costliest was a holding penalty on DeAndre Houston-Carson that erased Tarik Cohen's 90-yard kickoff return to the Detroit 14, costing the Bears 76 yards in field position.
"I think some of it was some new guys in because of some guys lost," Fox said. "That's not an excuse; it's just reality. For whatever reason, we had a lot of holding penalties, which I think was partly due to some of the changes. But all-in-all, it wasn't good enough."
Veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford powered the Lions offense, completing 25 of 33 passes for 237 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 115.3 passer rating.
After Matt Prater's field goals of 48 yards on the game's opening possession and 31 yards on the first play of the second quarter gave the Lions a 6-0 lead, Stafford's 3-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Jones made it 13-0 with 6:10 left in the first half.
The TD came three plays after receiver Marvin Jones Jr. outleaped safety Eddie Jackson to haul in a 58-yard pass from Stafford at the Bears' 12 on third-and-18.
The Bears closed the gap to 13-3 on Mike Nugent's 41-yard field goal with :02 left in the half. The kick came :10 after Sam Acho stripped the ball from Theo Riddick on a 12-yard run and Jackson recovered at the Lions' 27.
The Bears offense continued to sputter in the second half. Trubisky's overthrown pass intended for Kendall Wright was intercepted by cornerback Darius Slay at the Chicago 41.
The Lions capitalized on the turnover as Stafford lofted an 8-yard TD pass to tight end Eric Ebron over Danny Trevathan, widening the margin to 20-3.
The Bears marched to the Detroit 5. But on third-and-goal, Trubisky's ill-advised pass into the back of the end zone intended for Dontrelle Inman was intercepted by Quandre Diggs.
Trubisky's 9-yard TD pass to Benny Cunningham drew the Bears to within 20-10 with 2:32 remaining, capping a 13-play, 92-yard drive. But the rookie quarterback was picked off by Slay again with :28 to play.
Adding injury to insult, the Bears lost both of their starting guards, with Tom Compton exiting in the first half with a concussion and Josh Sitton leaving in the second half with an ankle injury.