Defensive tackle Bilal Nichols provided a bright spot on an otherwise gloomy day for the Bears defense Sunday at Soldier Field.
The third-year pro registered his first career interception and also recorded a sack of quarterback Matthew Stafford in a 34-30 loss to the Detroit Lions.
With the Bears leading 30-20 early in the fourth quarter, Nichols picked off a pass that Stafford side-armed to tight end Jesse James, returning it seven yards to the Lions' 46. It was the first interception by a Bears defensive tackle since Tommie Harris Oct. 4, 2009, also versus Detroit.
Nichols, though, was not in the mood to celebrate after the Bears defense allowed two touchdowns in the game's final 2:18, turning a 30-20 lead into a bitter defeat. The first score capped a 7-play, 96-yard drive that didn't even require a third-down play and included Stafford completions of 14, 22, 17, 13 and 25 yards with the 25-yarder a TD pass to Marvin Jones that cut the deficit to 30-27.
"We've got to do a better job of executing, making sure that we're doing everything we can as a defense to stop them," Nichols said. "There's some plays that we wish we would've got back. There's a lot of plays where we want to get better at. That's why it stings a little bit because we know we can be better. We hold ourselves to that standard."
Making an impact: Cordarrelle Patterson returned the game's opening kickoff 45 yards to the Bears' 46, setting up Cairo Santos' 45-yard field goal.
The Lions kept the ball out of Patterson's hands the rest of the game, recording two touchbacks and pooching two kickoffs to J.P. Holtz, who had returns of 12 and 5 yards; and one to Darnell Mooney, who had a 5-yard return. The Bears started their drives following the three pooch kickoffs at their own 32, 28 and 11.
Patterson entered Week 13 leading the NFL with a 29.6-yard kickoff return average.
Patterson also contributed on offense, rushing for 59 yards and one touchdown on 10 carries and catching one pass for five yards.
Top receiver: Allen Robinson II led the Bears in receiving yards for the 10th straight game with 75 yards on six catches. He had five receptions for 71 yards in the first half before catching just one pass for four yards in the second half.
Kicking it: In making his only field-goal attempt of the game, Santos has now connected on his last 16 in a row and is 19 of 21 on the season (90.5 percent). His last missed field goal came in a Week 3 win in Atlanta.
Santos' first extra-point try was blocked Sunday. It was his first missed PAT of the season after hitting his first 20 and he is now 23 of 24 this year.
Back at it: Javon Wims played for the first time since serving a two-game suspension, catching one pass for 13 yards. The 2018 seventh-round pick from Georgia sat out games against the Titans and Vikings and was inactive versus the Packers. Wims was suspended by the NFL for punching a Saints defender in a Nov. 1 game at Soldier Field.
One-liners: The Bears offense failed to score in the third quarter for the 11th time in 12 games. The unit's only points in the third period this year have come on Nick Foles' 1-yard TD run in a Week 6 win over the Panthers … The Bears have rushed for 100 yards or more in all five of Mitchell Trubisky's starts and fewer than 100 yards in all seven of Foles' starts … Rookie tight end Cole Kmet made his second TD reception of the season, an 11-yarder that gave the Bears a 30-20 lead with 11:23 remaining in the game. Kmet caught a season-high five passes for 37 yards.
See the game unfold through the lenses of our sideline photographers as the Bears face off in a divisional matchup against the Lions in Chicago.