DETROIT – The Bears held a 26-14 lead late in Sunday's game at Ford Field, but the Lions scored 17 unanswered points in the final 2:59 to rally for a 31-26 victory.
After Cairo Santos' 39-yard field goal gave the Bears a 12-point lead with 4:15 to play, the Lions cut the deficit to 26-21 on Jared Goff's 32-yard touchdown pass to receiver Jameson Williams with 2:59 left, capping a 6-play, 75-yard drive that took just 1:16.
After the Bears went three-and-out, David Montgomery's 1-yard TD run coupled with Goff's two-point conversion pass to tight end Sam LaPorta put Detroit ahead 29-26 with :29 remaining. The TD culminated an 11-play, 73-yard drive.
On the Bears' next play from scrimmage, defensive end Aidan Hutchinson's sack of Justin Fields resulted in a fumble that bounded out of the end zone for a safety.
With the defeat, the Bears fell to 3-8 on the season.
"Obviously, very disappointed with the loss," said coach Matt Eberflus. "We didn't finish it as a football team. We didn't finish it as coaches, as players, the right way, and there's a lot of plays to be had out there, good calls that we could have made in those situations to get us that victory."
Prior to Detroit's comeback, an inspired effort in all three phases had powered the Bears a 26-14 lead over the NFC North leaders.
In the game, Fields threw for 169 yards with one touchdown and a 105.2 passer rating and rushed for a season-high 104 yards on 18 carries in his first start since dislocating his right thumb Oct. 15 against the Vikings. The defense intercepted three Goff passes. And the special teams produced one takeaway and four Santos field goals.
"I accentuated the positives with those guys because there was a lot of good football," Eberflus said. "Justin Fields came back from injury. Thought he played really well, ran the ball nice. I thought when he did scramble, he avoided sacks most of the time. And he did a really good job of looking downfield and hitting some side pockets, hitting some things down the field, and I think that's growth there with him."
The Bears trailed 14-10 at halftime before producing three field goals and a touchdown on their first four possessions of the second half to take a 26-14 lead. Two of those scores came after takeaways had given the offense the ball at the Lions' 40 and 43.
The Bears got off to a fast start in the game.
D'Onta Foreman capped a masterful game-opening 10-play, 75-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run through a gaping hole in the right side of the line, giving the Bears a 7-0 lead with 9:23 left in the first quarter.
Fields showed zero rust on the opening possession, completing 3 of 4 passes for 38 yards and rushing for 28 yards on three carries—11 yards on a designed run, seven yards on a read option and 10 yards on a scramble.
Rookie cornerback Tyrique Stevenson then recorded his first NFL interception, picking off a slant pass from Goff at the Bears' 32 and returning it five yards. Defensive end Rasheem Green pressured the quarterback on the play.
The Bears defense followed with its second interception on as many possessions as linebacker T.J. Edwards picked off a Goff pass over the middle and returned it two yards to the Chicago 37.
But the Bears gave the ball right back. Rookie receiver Tyler Scott was stripped by cornerback Cam Sutton after a 4-yard reception and linebacker Alex Anzalone recovered the fumble at the Chicago 34.
The Lions converted the takeaway into a game-tying score on Jahmyr Gibbs' 2-yard touchdown run, making it 7-7 with 9:23 left in the second quarter. The TD came one play after cornerback Jaylon Johnson dropped a potential interception.
"We had a couple opportunities to get some picks, so we've got to make sure we catch those," Eberflus said. "That's a big thing."
The Bears took a 10-7 lead on Santos' 31-yard field goal with 1:47 left in the first half. The 15-play, 62-yard drive was sustained by Roschon Johnson's 5-yard run on fourth-and-1 and Moore's brilliant run-after-catch on a 12-yard reception from Fields on third-and-12.
The Lions answered by taking a 14-10 lead on Goff's 7-yard TD pass to receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown with :11 left in the half. Detroit marched 75 yards on 10 plays in just 1:36 for the go-ahead score.
Santos' 53-yard field goal drew the Bears to within 14-13 midway through the third quarter. The drive was sustained by an illegal contact penalty on the Lions that came on an incomplete pass on third-and-15.
The Bears generated their third takeaway of the game on the ensuing kickoff, as Stevenson submarined return specialist Craig Reynolds, causing a fumble that linebacker DeMarquis Gates at the Chicago 40.
The Bears followed by taking a 20-14 lead on Fields' 38-yard TD pass to Moore with 4:41 left in the third quarter. Fields stepped up in the pocket and made a perfect deep throw to Moore, who made an over-the-shoulder catch.
The Bears then registered their fourth takeaway of the game—and third interception—as Tremaine Edmunds picked off a Goff pass over the middle and returned it nine yards to the Lions' 43.
The Bears converted the takeaway into Santos' 40-yard field goal, giving them a two-score lead at 23-14 early in the fourth quarter. His fourth field goal made it 26-14 before the Lions stormed back in the waning moments.
"It's about playing four quarters and playing to the last couple seconds," Edmunds said. "We've just got to do a better job of reading our keys and executing."
"It hurts," Fields said. "It hurts a lot, but I think you've just got to take the positives out of it and learn from the loss. We did a lot of good things this game and just have to build on that."