Dominant second-half performances on both sides of the ball powered the Bears to an impressive 28-13 win over the Lions Sunday at Soldier Field.
Detroit overcame a double-digit deficit against the Bears for the second time in three weeks, as the NFC North leaders rallied from a 10-0 deficit to take a 13-10 lead. But this time, Chicago responded to the adversity by outscoring the Lions 18-0 in the second half.
After allowing Detroit to score touchdowns on its final two drives of the first half, the Bears defense did not permit a first down on the Lions' first five possessions of the second half. The unit opened the half with three straight three-and-outs, recovered a fumble on a botched center/quarterback exchange and forced Detroit to turn the ball over on downs at its own 34.
"In the first half, we weren't really good on defense on third down," said coach Matt Eberflus. "We didn't do a good enough job in the run game. They popped a couple runs on us. So we had to go back to the basics and the guys came out in the second half and did a really good job of executing the calls, and that gave us a chance to win."
The offense produced two touchdowns and two field goals on its first five drives of the second half. With the game tied 13-13, the Bears scored two TDs and one field goal on drives that started at the 50 and the Lions' 29 and 30. Justin Fields threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to DJ Moore on 4th-and-13 and scrambled for an 11-yard TD.
Fields completed 19 of 33 passes for 223 yards with one TD and a 88.3 passer rating and rushed for 58 yards on 12 carries. Moore caught six passes for 68 yards and one TD. He scored another touchdown on a 16-yard run.
The Bears defense continued to produce impact plays, registering three takeaways and four sacks. The effort helped avenge a 31-26 loss to the Lions Nov. 19 at Ford Field. The Bears led that game 26-14 before Detroit rallied to score 17 unanswered points in the final 2:59.
"The way we lost that last game in Detroit, that kind of left a bad taste in our mouth," said defensive tackle Justin Jones, who registered 1.5 sacks in Sunday's win. "So we came out here and knew that we had to pay attention to details and made sure that we honed in on what exactly we had to do this game."
The defense limited Goff to a 54.6 passer rating, his lowest since Nov. 29, 2020, when he posted a 52.9 while playing for the Rams against the 49ers. On Sunday, he completed 20 of 35 passes for 161 yards with one TD and two interceptions. Goff has thrown five of his 10 interceptions this season in two games against the Bears.
After winning the coin toss and choosing to receive the opening kickoff, the Bears marched 69 yards on eight plays to take a 7-0 lead on Moore's 16-yard touchdown run.
The TD came on a well-designed play. Moore took the direct shotgun snap, ran to his left, faked a hand-off to Fields and sprinted around the corner. Offensive linemen Lucas Patrick and Braxton Jones, receiver Trent Taylor and running back Roschon Johnson all threw blocks on the play.
After Yannick Ngakoue forced a Lions punt with a third-down sack, the Bears increased their lead to 10-0 on Cairo Santos' 46-yard field goal late in the first quarter. Fields set up the kick with a nifty 19-yard scramble on third-and-8 and a 28-yard completion to Darnell Mooney to the Detroit 16.
The Bears had a chance to extend their lead after Jaylon Johnson intercepted a Goff pass on fourth-and-10 from the Chicago 35. Fields connected with Cole Kmet for a 41-yard completion, but on fourth-and-1 from the Detroit 38, the Bears faked a "tush push" and Fields pitched the ball to Moore, who was stopped for no gain.
The Lions then scored touchdowns on their next two possessions to take a 13-10 halftime lead. They cut the deficit to 10-6 on Jahmyr Gibbs' 12-yard TD run with 6:59 left in the second quarter. Riley Patterson missed the extra point wide left.
After the Bears went three-and-out, Goff capped an 11-play, 53-yard drive with an 8-yard TD pass to receiver Josh Reynolds to make it 13-10 with :26 left in the half.
Despite trailing at halftime, the Bears were unfazed.
"The mentality was 'just keep hammering,'" Patrick said. "We knew we left some things out there, both sides."
Patrick wasn't surprised the Bears rallied given what he experienced at Halas Hall in the days leading up to Sunday's game.
"The locker room might have been the best shape I've seen it this year," he said. "This was the best week I've seen the guys interacting and talking across the room and just seeing guys come together. It doesn't surprise me that when adversity hit, we answered the bell. The vibes were high."
After the Bears defense opened the second half with a three-and-out, Santos' 25-yard field goal tied the score 13-13 midway through the third quarter. The drive was sustained by Fields' 13-yard pass to Moore, who made a leaping catch along the sideline. The Bears settled for the kick after having first-and-goal at the 7.
After the defense registered its third straight three-and-out, the Bears took over at the 50. On fourth-and-13 from the Detroit 38, Fields induced the Lions to jump offsides—resulting in a free play—and he rifled a 38-yard touchdown pass to Moore, giving the Bears a 19-13 lead with 1:36 left in the third quarter. Santos' extra point attempt was blocked.
After T.J. Edwards recovered a fumbled snap at the Detroit 29, Fields' 11-yard TD scramble on third-and-goal gave the Bears a 25-13 lead early in the third quarter.
The Bears took advantage of the excellent field position, increasing their lead to 28-13 on Santos' 28-yard field goal with 9:20 to play.
With their second straight win (following a victory over the Vikings), the Bears improved to 5-8, including 5-4 in their last nine games after an 0-4 start.
"It's a big deal," Eberflus said. "It's been a long time coming, to win two in a row, and it's two division opponents, which is big. The guys are super excited, but we could feel this coming. The improvement was happening over time and I just kept telling them, 'If you keep doing right, it's going to be right and good things are going to happen.'"