Cairo Santos' 28-yard field goal as time expired lifted the Bears to a 16-14 win over the Lions Thursday in Detroit, snapping their five-game losing streak.
The winning kick capped an impressive 18-play, 69-yard drive that burned the final 8:30 off the clock. Andy Dalton, starting in place of the injured Justin Fields, connected with Damiere Byrd for completions of 13 yards on third-and-5 from the Bears' 37 and seven yards on third-and-4 from the Lions' 11 to sustain the drive.
After Byrd's 7-yard reception resulted in a first down at the 4, Dalton took a knee on three straight snaps before the Bears called timeout with :01 remaining, leaving the Lions with no time on the clock following Santos' field goal.
"That drive was so important for us," Dalton said. "To go 18 plays and to run the clock out with eight minutes left is huge. To get down and get into that position where we were able to kick the field goal at the end, it's just a testament to our guys' no-quit attitude and finding a way to get it done."
Making his first start since Week 2 against the Bengals, Dalton completed 24 of 39 passes for 317 yards with one touchdown, one interception and an 85.1 passer rating in helping the Bears (4-7) register their first victory since a 20-9 win over the Raiders Oct. 10 in Las Vegas.
"It's like a breath of fresh air," Santos said. "We've had opportunities to put games away in the last couple weeks, but there's no pointing fingers. That's what I love about the room. It's kind of just, 'Put your head down and keep working.'"
Coach Matt Nagy praised players and coaches for remaining focused on the task at hand during a tumultuous few days that began Tuesday when a completely false report that Nagy would be relieved of his duties after the Lions game was reported.
"The only thing I can do is give complete appreciation and thanks to the players and coaches," Nagy said. "I can't ask for anything more. This is a special group across the board. Stating the obvious, we've been through some stuff, the distractions the last couple days. But it just proves who they are; what type of fighters they are, what type of winners they are … I just can't tell you how much this win means today to me because of what they did."
The Bears defense allowed a season-low 239 total yards and just 14 first downs, but the unit permitted an efficient Jared Goff to complete 21 of 25 passes for 171 yards with two touchdowns and a 121.8 passer rating.
Goff's 39-yard TD pass to receiver Josh Reynolds on the Lions' first possession of the game gave Detroit an early 7-0 lead.
The Bears scored 13 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a 13-7 halftime lead. They cut the deficit to 7-3 on Santos' 28-yard field goal, capping a 10-play, 74-yard drive that was highlighted by Dalton completions of 33 yards to Darnell Mooney and 17 yards to Jimmy Graham.
The kick came one play after Jesse James alertly broke up a potential interception by Lions cornerback Amani Oruwariye in the end zone.
The Bears later took a 10-7 lead, covering 69 yards in just two plays and :52. Dalton rainbowed a 52-yard completion to Mooney and followed with a 17-yard touchdown strike to Graham with 4:29 left in the second quarter.
The Bears defense then generated a takeaway when Trevis Gipson punched the ball away from Goff and recovered the fumble at the Lions' 39. Goff lost the ball while being sacked by Robert Quinn. It was not originally ruled a fumble, but Nagy challenged the call and it was reversed via replay review.
On third-and-10 from the Detroit 23, the Bears were in excellent position to extend their lead with at least a field goal. But Dalton's underthrown pass intended for Byrd in the end zone was intercepted by Oruwariye.
After the defense forced a three-and-out, Dalton engineered a 7-play, 29-yard drive to set up Santos' 43-yard field goal as time expired in the first half, increasing the Bears' lead to 13-7.
Goff put the Lions back on top 14-13 with a 17-yard TD pass to tight end T.J. Hockenson with 1:46 remaining in the third quarter. But Bears rallied late, orchestrating their lengthy game-winning drive and dropping the Lions to 0-10-1.
"There was a lot going on this week," said Cole Kmet, who caught a game-high eight passes for 65 yards. "So, for us to come together and get that win there, it just feels good to break that streak. We were having fun out there, which is good. We weren't executing like we wanted to the whole game, but at the end of the day we executed when it mattered and ended up getting that win."
Watch the Bears' Thanksgiving matchup against the Detroit Lions unfold through the lenses of our sideline photographers at Ford Field.