FIRST DOWN: BLOUGH'S DEBUT
Undrafted rookie free agent David Blough found out he was starting his first career NFL game at quarterback Wednesday night. In roughly 15 hours, he was set to be make his NFL debut on the national stage of Thanksgiving Day against a Chicago Bears defense ranked in the top 10 in the league.
“This is what you dream about as a kid,” Blough said Thursday. “I’m thankful for it all. The ups and the downs. I knew there was going to be some, I wasn’t going to be perfect. I wanted to give everything I had and the guys lifted me up.”
Blough said he got a ton of support from teammates after they found out he was starting. He even had to shut his phone off Wednesday night because the outpouring of support he got was overwhelming after the Lions announced the move.
After bouncing his first pass in front of an open T.J. Hockenson down the seam, Blough fired a perfect strike to a wide open Kenny Golladay for a 75-yard touchdown for his first career completion. Blough would go on to complete 22 of 38 passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns. His lone interception came on a 4th and 22 play on the offense's final play.
Overall, Blough played pretty well for a third stringer stepping into the spotlight on a short week. How well Blough played didn’t surprise head coach Matt Patricia.
“He’s a football player,” Patricia said. “Just goes out and plays ball and works really hard at it. He works diligently to prepare himself and he’s been doing that all year.”
SECOND DOWN: A TOUGH OUTING
It was evident from the start Thursday that Chicago liked the matchup they had in the slot with receiver Anthony Miller on Lions cornerback Justin Coleman.
Coleman, a big free-agent signing for the Lions this offseason, has had an up and down year. He’s defended 10 passes and forced a couple fumbles, but he’s also allowed seven touchdowns.
The Bears targeted him early and often Thursday. Miller finished with nine receptions for 140 yards, including 35 and 32-yard receptions on Chicago’s go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter, both with Coleman in coverage.
Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky had a 101.8 passer rating when throwing at Coleman Thursday, per Pro Football Focus, with nine completions and 131 yards.
View photos from the Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears Week 13 game at Ford Field on Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019 in Detroit.
THIRD DOWN: GREAT GOLLADAY
Golladay averaged 39.5 yards per reception Thursday and finished with 158 yards on four catches. He had that 75-yard touchdown and accounted for all three of Detroit’s most explosive plays on offense against the Bears, adding a 36 and 29-yard reception in the contest. All four of Golladay’s catches Thursday went for 20 yards or more.
He now has 45 receptions on the year for 950 yards for a 20.2 average per reception.
Golladay is the first NFL player since Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss (1998) to record at least 40 receptions and nine touchdowns while maintaining a receiving average of 20.0 yards-or-more through 12 games. The only other Lions player to do so was Cloyce Box in 1950.
In his third year, Golladay’s become one of the best deep-threat receivers in the league. He and teammate Marvin Jones Jr. are tied for the NFL lead with nine touchdowns apiece.
Golladay has earned the right this season to start to be talked about among the league’s elite receivers.
FOURTH DOWN: LOSING PLAYS
Patricia said after the game that his team needs to find a way to break through and smash the thing that’s holding them back from winning these close games they’re losing.
In the end, it really comes down to making winning plays late in games.
Instead, too often over the last two months, the Lions are getting losing plays late. That was the case again Thursday, as follows:
1. Running back Bo Scarbrough runs for 21 yards down to the Chicago 41-yard line with under eight minutes remaining, but an illegal block in the back penalty by a receiver nullifies the play. The Lions end up punting instead of trying to increase their 20-17 lead.
2. Chicago faces a 3rd and 4 at their 16-yard line down 20-17 late. Miller gets behind Coleman for a gain of 35 yards.
3. Chicago faces a 3rd and 5 at Detroit's 34-yard line on the same drive. Miller gets behind Coleman for a gain of 32 down to the Detroit 2-yard line.
4. Detroit jumps offside on the extra point attempt following Chicago’s last touchdown with 2:12 left. It gives the Bears five free yards to attempt a shorter extra point that would extend the lead to four points and force the Lions to have to score a touchdown on their final drive.
5. The Lions have 3rd and 9 at the Bears' 26-yard line with 41 seconds left and take a sack back at the Chicago 39, setting up 4th and 22.
Those are the kind of plays late that prevent teams from winning close games.
“I feel like we are just leaving a lot of plays out there, for me, just going off of what I saw,” Lions safety Tracy Walker said after the game.
“The film will tell us a whole other story, but as of right now I just feel like we are leaving plays out there and just not capitalizing.”