FIRST DOWN: BEVELL'S FIRST WIN
What has been an exciting and whirlwind week for Darrell Bevell in his first week as interim head coach was capped off Sunday with a 34-30 victory over the Bears in Chicago.
"It's amazing," Bevell said after the game. "I mean, I'm still on cloud nine right now. I'm not quite over it."
The Lions played inspired football down the stretch for their interim head coach, and this is certainly something Bevell will never forget.
He said this week he wanted his team to play loose and fast like their hair was on fire. In the fourth quarter, we saw that. The offense orchestrated a late 96-yard scoring drive, and the defense came up with a huge turnover inside the Chicago 10-yard and then sealed the game in the end with a 4th and 1 stop late.
It was a terrific win for Bevell. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford gave Bevell the game ball in the locker room after the win.
"I thought it was fitting he needs to get that game ball," Stafford said after the game. "It's his first game as a head coach and to get a win is huge."
There was a different feeling in Allen Park this week with Bevell running the show. Stafford said Bevell was genuine while learning on the fly. Bevell told the players to go out and play with a lot of energy and have fun, and they did that.
SECOND DOWN: BIG PLAYS
Bevell wanted to see two things out of his offense this week. He wanted them to play with more consistency, which they did most of the contest, and he wanted to see more big plays, which they did.
Stafford credited the offensive line and their ability to give him time in the pocket for their ability to push the ball down the field in the passing game.
"Without time I can't get the ball down the field," Stafford said. "And then our guys on the backend were getting open and making big plays. Proud of our guys for making plays."
Stafford threw for 402 yards and three touchdowns. Five different players recorded catches of at least 20 yards. Jamal Agnew had a 19-yarder for his long.
The offensive line was good all game, the receivers on the back end did a good job of gaining separation, and Stafford didn't hesitate in pulling the trigger down the field. Detroit's a fun offense to watch when they're pushing the ball down the field like they did in Chicago.
THIRD DOWN: OKWARA'S IMPACT
Lions defensive end Romeo Okwara is having a heck of a season. He's been Detroit's most consistent player on defense all year, and he made a huge play late Sunday in Chicago that helped Detroit ink a much-needed victory against a division opponent to improve their record to 5-7 on the year.
Okwara stripped the ball from Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky at the Bears' 9-yard line with 1:54 left in the game and the Lions trailing 30-27. Rookie defensive tackle John Penisini jumped on the ball at the Bears' 7-yard line.
"Just trying to get a good rush," Okwara said after the game. "We got some good pressure from the middle and pushed the quarterback back and I was able to get a strip there."
Lions running back Adrian Peterson would score two plays later, and Okwara and the defense would preserve the win with a 4th and 1 stop at the end.
Okwara finished Sunday with four tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, a blocked extra point and a tackle for loss. He has seven sacks, eight tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and two blocked kicks this season. Those are impact plays, and Sunday they helped turn the tide the Lions' way.
FOURTH DOWN: CEPHUS STEPS UP
The Lions released wide receiver Marvin Hall Saturday, in part, because of what rookie receiver Quintez Cephus has shown over the last month and with veteran Mohamed Sanu being a bigger part of the passing game the last two weeks since he was promoted from the practice squad.
It's been an up and down first season for Cephus, who started the year with back-to-back three-catch performances, filling in for Kenny Golladay. But once Golladay returned, Cephus was a healthy scratch for a bit. He's worked his way back into the offense over the last month with Golladay missing time due to a hip injury, and he was rewarded Sunday with his first touchdown catch of his career, a beautiful 49-yard reception down the right sideline in the second quarter that helped keep Detroit in the game early on.
Cephus finished with two catches for 63 yards and a touchdown. He now has at least one catch in five straight games.