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Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
Justin Rogers

Lions bury hapless Bears, keep playoff hopes alive

DETROIT — The Detroit Lions didn't have control of their playoff destiny entering Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears, ceding that opportunity in last week's loss to the Carolina Panthers. All the Lions could do is handle their own business and hope for a little help.

To their credit, they took care of the first part of that equation emphatically.

Behind an impressive defensive effort — fueled by a trio of rookie defensive linemen — paired with a relentless offensive attack, the Lions steamrolled the Bears at Ford Field, 41-10.

James Houston, Aidan Hutchinson and Josh Paschal combined for 5.5 sacks, an interception and a forced and recovered fumble. Meanwhile, quarterback Jared Goff threw for three scores and Detroit racked up 264 yards and two touchdowns on the ground in the victory.

With the win, the Lions moved to 8-8 on the season and kept the team's playoff hopes alive heading into next week's season finale against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

The Lions did get some help early Sunday, jumping the Washington Commanders in the standings after they fell to the Cleveland Browns. The result from the Seahawks game against the New York Jets was still pending at the time of publication.

The coming blowout certainly wasn't foreshadowed by a competitive first quarter.

Behind the mobility of dual-threat quarterback Justin Fields, and a miscommunication in the Lions secondary, the Bears jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead, driving 70 yards on nine plays with the game's opening possession.

Fields, taking a pitch on a direct snap to tight end Cole Kmet, got around the left side of Detroit's defense for a 31-yard gain to convert a third-and-short. Three plays later, the quarterback returned the favor, hitting Kmet on a shallow cross after he got lost during a botched assignment switch between Lions cornerback Will Harris and linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez, resulting in a 13-yard touchdown.

Despite some clear communication issues between quarterback Jared Goff and the sideline, the Lions managed to counter with a lengthy touchdown drive of their own. Going for it on fourth down in Bears territory, Goff heaved a deep ball into the end zone to DJ Chark, who drew a pass interference penalty attempting to come back to the ball. With the ball put on the 1-yard line after the infraction, Goff found tight end Brock Wright for the tying score.

Fields led Chicago's response, slicing through the heart of Detroit's defense for a 60-yard gain on the ground, but the Lions held firm in the red zone, forcing the visitors into settling for a short field goal and a three-point lead.

Fields finished the opening quarter with 105 rushing yards on five rushes, marking the third time he's topped the century mark this season. But that was largely the extent of the damage he did with his feet, finishing with 132 yards rushing.

Following the field goal, the Lions had no such intention of settling for a field goal, working back across the goal line in just six plays. Chark hauled in a 28-yard throw before the end of the first quarter to get the offense across midfield before running back D'Andre Swift picked up a couple of key blocks from receivers Josh Reynolds and Amon-Ra St. Brown en route to a 17-yard touchdown run.

After sacking Fields twice to force a punt, the Lions pushed their lead to double-digits. Jamaal Williams kickstarted the drive with two carries and a reception totaling 27 yards, leading to Goff finding Wright for the tight end's second touchdown of the game, a 9-yard score out of play-action.

The Lions were able to add three more points to the lead before the half. Linebacker James Houston, chasing Fields down from behind, chopped the ball free from the grasp of the quarterback, while teammate Aidan Hutchinson jumped on the loose ball to complete the turnover.

From there, Goff completed four consecutive throws, setting up a 23-yard Michael Badgley field goal in the closing seconds of the second quarter.

Detroit continued to pour it on in the second half. After Swift spun out of a tackle attempt to convert third-and-18, rookie receiver Jameson Williams took a reverse 40 yards into the red zone. Jamaal Williams then finished the series with a 2-yard touchdown run, his 15th on the ground this season and first in the past four games.

Following a three-and-out by the Bears, Goff stayed hot, completing all four of his throws during the possession, starting with a 28-yarder to Chark down the right sideline and capping the drive with a 21-yard catch-and-run by Swift, putting the Lions up 38-10.

It marked the first multi-touchdown game for Swift since Week 15 of his rookie season in 2020.

Both teams went through a long scoring lull down the stretch, but a 58-yard run by Jamaal Williams in the closing minutes set up a 41-yard Badgley field goal to cap the day's scoring.

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