DETROIT – Rookie cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc turned his first NFL interception into his first pro touchdown in Sunday’s 20-17 loss to the Lions at Ford Field.
LeBlanc picked off a Matthew Stafford pass and returned it 24 yards for a score that gave the Bears a 17-13 lead with 7:07 left in the fourth quarter. The interception came on third-and-five at the Detroit 14 on an out-pattern intended for Anquan Boldin.
“When they’re backed up a lot of times they run a lot of quick [passes],” LeBlanc said. “So in my mind I was thinking something short, something just to get them to the sticks.
“[Bolden] uses his hands to push off for separation. So once he tried to come in and get into me and push off to create separation, I was firm in my coverage and once he broke out I just beat him with quickness.”
The TD was the second by the Bears defense this season—Leonard Floyd recovered a fumble in the end zone Oct. 20 in Green Bay—and the first on an interception return since Sept. 22, 2014 when Ryan Mundy brought back a pick 45 yards in a win over the Jets.
“It felt great to give the team the lead,” LeBlanc said. “That’s what we needed. We needed that momentum change and just that extra juice and extra buzz.”
Cam comes through: The only other Bears touchdown in Sunday’s game was scored by receiver Cameron Meredith on a 31-yard pass from Matt Barkley down the right sideline.
“It was outstanding,” said coach John Fox. “[Barkley] is an accurate passer. I think he’s proved that. He doesn’t get rattled. He wasn’t rattled by road noise, crowd noise. His teammates respond to him well and he is an accurate passer. He hangs in there and made throws not everybody can.”
Meredith beat cornerback Darius Slay on the play.
“That was kind of a double move; it was a slant-and-go,” Meredith said. “I kind of gave him an in-and-out move. I was able to get my hands on him, trying to get past him. Matt put that in a great place. All I had to do was just go up and run into that one.”
With six catches for 72 yards, Meredith helped pick up the slack for an offense that played without receivers Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White, Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson and tight end Zach Miller.
Ball security: After throwing two interceptions in his first start two weeks ago against the Titans, Barkley has quarterbacked an offense that has not committed a turnover in its last two games.
“He’s doing pretty well,” said running back Jordan Howard. “We definitely have faith in him. He stands in the pocket. He keeps his composure. He doesn’t let anything get him rattled.”
Howard rushed for 86 yards on 13 carries and caught two passes for 24 yards. His runs of 28 and 31 yards set up the offense’s only two scores, a field goal and a touchdown.
“We’re always going to be confident in our game plan,” Howard said. “The defense, they might know what’s coming, but they still have to stop it.”
Sick list: Cornerback Tracy Porter exited late in the first half with an illness and did not return. He was replaced by rookie Deiondre Hall, who had missed the last eight games with an ankle injury.
“That caught us off guard a little bit,” Fox said. “He was very sick quickly, but I don’t know all the exacts. I don’t want to get into it too much, not being a doctor, but obviously he could not return.”
Nose tackle Eddie Goldman left the game with an ankle injury.
News and notes: The Bears committed 11 penalties for 139 yards. … The Lions converted 6-of-12 third-down opportunities (50 percent), which helped them possess the ball for 34:17. … Akiem Hicks recorded a sack to increase his season total to a career-high seven. Defensive end Mitch Unrein and linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski also registered sacks.