MIKE O'HARA

O'HARA'S BURNING QUESTIONS: Suh's domination, second quarter explosion and more in Lions' 40-32 win

Posted Sep 29, 2013

Mike O'Hara looks at factors in the Lions' 40-32 win over Chicago, including DT Ndamukong Suh's play, RB Reggie Bush's running and some misplays

Burning questions – Ndamukong Suh’s domination, the Lions’ second quarter explosion, Reggie Bush’s running, role players playing their roles and some misplays in the Lions’ 40-32 victory over the Bears at Ford Field on Sunday:

Q. It was lopsided most of the way before the Bears rallied late, but the victory tied the Lions with Chicago for first place in the NFC North. With so many points scored, why single out a defensive tackle as the dominant player in the game?

A. Short answer: Because he was. Ndamukong Suh absolutely controlled every millimeter of space in his area on every snap he was in the game. Defensive tackles don’t often compile the stats that Suh had  -- two sacks, two tackles-for-losses, two quarterback hits and a forced fumble.

The forced fumble came late in the third quarter. Suh hammered Bears quarterback Jay Cutler from his right side and knocked the ball loose. Nick Fairley grabbed it at the four-yard line and ran it in for the clinching touchdown – a 37-16 lead with 27 seconds left.

No matter how many rules changes the NFL makes to put more offense in the game, it is still the hardest, toughest, most physically demanding sport in America. And Suh was the toughest player on the field in a game that the Lions would have been satisfied to win 2-0 on a safety.

Q. Reggie Bush: He sat out last week’s victory at Washington, and Joique Bell performed well in his place. What did it mean to have Bush back?

A. He gives the offense a player that the Lions haven’t had since Barry Sanders last played for them in 1998. And that includes Jahvid Best, who made some big plays before his career was ended by a concussion he sustained in 2011.

Bush maneuvers with the ball in his hands. He doesn’t need a match-up advantage. He accelerates, and he also re-accelerates, if that’s even a word. In other words, he can change gears at full speed, then hit high gear again.

Bush showed that on his 37-yard TD run that gave the Lions a 30-10 lead with 2:43 left in the half. Bush kept running away from defenders, all the way to the right pylon in the end zone. Bush had another big game.

Q. Explosion: The Lions took command in the second quarter, scoring 27 points to take a 30-10 lead. What was the key?

A. The question should be keys, not key. There was more than one play. Every unit had a hand in a 27-point second quarter – offense, defense and special teams.

Q. Pick one play that gave the Lions an unexpected lift?

A. If I had to, and since I’m the one on the witness stand here, then I’ll take Micheal Spurlock’s 57-yard punt return that made it first down at the Bears’ 22-yard line.

Q. Why Spurlock? Bush had a long TD run. Calvin Johnson had a short TD catch. Glover Quin had a big interception return. What was so special about Spurlock’s play?

A. it gave the Lions something they haven’t been able to count on. The return game, punts especially, has been nowhere all season. The Bears had a 10-9 lead at the time, and they’d forced the Lions to settle for field goals on three possessions.

Spurlock returned up the middle, then cut outside to his left and down the sideline until he was knocked out of bounds sat the 22-yard line. Four plays later, the Lions had their first TD – a one-yard run, bobble and catch in the end zone by Matthew Stafford.

Q. The bobble: Wasn’t Stafford a little lucky on that play?

A. No, he wasn’t a little lucky. He was a lot lucky. But he also was alert enough to catch the ball after he was hit by Lance Briggs and score the touchdown. Call it bad luck, good luck – and a head’s up play by the quarterback.

Q. Safety first: The Lions got interceptions from both safeties. Louis Delmas had two picks and Quin had one, and both had one in the first half.

A. First it was Delmas. His pick led to a field goal. On the first play from scrimmage after Stafford’s TD, Quin played the ball perfectly, coming over from the middle to snatch the ball in the air and return it to the two-yard line.

Q. What does Quin bring to the Lions?

A. He’s consistently good, and sometimes he’s very good. But he’s never bad, and he’s smart. He had a clinching pick against Minnesota, a big fumble recovery last week against Washington, and his pick against the Bears helped the Lions pile on the momentum.

Q. Give-aways – two fumbles, bad D: Ford Field was rocking, but some of the steam went out when Stafford was hit and fumbled late in the first half. Chicago converted that into a field goal on the last play of the half to make it 30-13 at the half.

Bell lost a fumble when the Lions were in Chicago’s territory late in the game. That gave Chicago some life.

Who was at fault Stafford’s turnover, and what did a fumble by Bell mean late in the game?

A. On Stafford’s fumble, it looked like Julius Peppers got a good push on tackle Riley Reiff from right end, and he chopped the ball loose from behind. Stafford had the ball a little too far out, and that exposed it to Peppers.

The Bears only got a field goal on the last play of the half, but it could have been worse.

There was no excuse for Bell’s fumble in that situation. Possession was everything. An extra yard was nothing. It gave the Bears a chance, trailing by 16. They needed two TDs and a pair of two-point conversions.

Late in the game, the young defensive backs, Bill Bentley and Darius Slay, had problems in coverage. That isn’t encouraging, considering the Lions play the Packers and Aaron Rodgers next week.

Q. Coming up – Packers: The Lions are 2-0 in the North, and they’ve won two straight. Next up: the Packers at Lambeau Field.

What is your early pick in Lions-Packers?

A. Before the season, I said I’d never pick the Lions to win at Washington, where they had never won, or on the road against the Packers, where they haven’t won since 1991.

Last week, the Lions won at Washington.

Next week – I’m taking a bye from picking this game.