FIRST DOWN: DRISKEL'S DEBUT
Jeff Driskel found out he was starting at quarterback for the Detroit Lions when he got to Soldier Field Sunday morning to take on the Chicago Bears.
He knew there was a chance he’d start in place of Matthew Stafford during the week. Stafford practiced in limited fashion while dealing with a back injury. The doctors ruled Stafford out Sunday morning, and Driskel got the nod.
Driskel said he approaches every week of preparation as if he’s the starter, but finding out upon arrival to the stadium is the definition of last-minute notice.
“As a backup quarterback there’s always a chance you’re going to get into the game,” Driskel said. “That’s just been my mindset the whole time.”
Driskel completed 27 of 46 passes for 269 yards with a touchdown and interception in Detroit’s 20-13 loss. He also rushed five times for 37 yards and was sacked twice. All and all, not bad.
“I thought I competed,” he said. “I thought I played hard. I’m probably the most critical of myself. Looking at that interception there in the red zone put our defense in a tough spot after they had been playing well lights out all day.
“But definitely made some plays. There’s a lot of opportunity to improve when we look back at the tape. Overall, made some plays, but not enough to get it done today.”
The interception was early in the third quarter at the Lions' 25-yard line that set up Chicago’s second touchdown. It was Driskel’s biggest mistake in the game.
“Jeff is a competitor, man,” wide receiver Danny Amendola said. “He’s tough as nails.”
Driskel made some plays and missed some others, which is expected of a backup. Ultimately, the Lions didn’t make enough plays to rally around their backup.
SECOND DOWN: PENALTY PROBLEMS
“The big thing for me right now coming out of the game is probably penalties,” Lions head coach Matt Patricia said after the game. “I think that was the thing that hurt us the most in this game, either getting us in backed up situations or getting us off track on offense or giving extra chances to their offense.”
Patricia is right. There were critical moments throughout the game where penalties killed the Lions, as follows:
1. An illegal shift wiped out a 12-yard completion to wide receiver Kenny Golladay down to Chicago's 23-yard line on a 3rd and 2 play. The next play was an incompletion, and Detroit punted.
2. Detroit’s defense forced the Bears to punt out of their end zone in the second quarter. The Lions got the ball at the Chicago 42-yard line. An illegal block and offensive holding pushed Detroit back to their 36-yard line, and they eventually punted.
3. A pass interference call on cornerback Darius Slay on a deep incomplete pass set the Bears up at the 9-yard line. They’d score the very next play early in the third quarter.
4. A holding penalty on tackle Taylor Decker wiped out a 27-yard completion to the Bears' 14-yard line on a 3rd and 12 in third quarter. Detroit would ultimately punt on the drive.
5. Driskel completed a pass to running back J.D. McKissic for a first down on a 4th and 1 in the fourth quarter, but Golladay was flagged for offensive pass interference. The Lions failed on 4th and 11 one play later.
THIRD DOWN: THREE BEARS TDS
The critical stretch in the game came late in the first half and into the third quarter, when the Bears scored all 20 of their points in three possessions and just a five-pass stretch for Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
It started with a 10-play, 76-yard drive late in the second quarter that was capped off by a 18-yard touchdown pass from Trubisky to tight end Ben Braunecker.
Chicago got the ball to start the second half and needed just five plays to go 76 yards – aided by 22 penalty yards – capped off by a 9-yard Trubisky pass to running back Tarik Cohen.
Driskel threw an interception on the next Lions drive at Bears' 25-yard line. The next Trubisky pass was a 24-yard touchdown to wide receiver Taylor Gabriel.
Three touchdown passes in the span of just five Trubisky passes. That was the key stretch in the game.
View photos from the Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears Week 10 game at Soldier Field on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019 in Chicago.
FOURTH DOWN: AMENDOLA'S ASSESSMENT
Patricia was pretty candid in his assessment of Sunday’s loss.
“If we can get a couple more plays to go our way, maybe it’s different,” he said.
Amendola was a little more direct with his assessment of went wrong in Chicago Sunday.
“I felt like Jeff (Driskel) did a great job,” Amendola said. “We have to make more plays on our end, personally and myself to help this team win.”
Amendola caught just four of his eight targets with a couple drops. For the first time this season, the Lions didn’t have a 100-yard pass catcher.
Whether it was drops or critical penalties, a lot of the Lions’ problems in Chicago seemed self-inflicted more than anything Chicago forced them into.
“We have to get better man,” Amendola said. “Personally, I’m a little frustrated in my play. I need to make more plays to help this team win.”