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FOUR DOWNS: Stafford one tough quarterback


Matthew Stafford was the epitome of what it takes to win a football game in the black and blue NFC North division on Sunday.

Stafford injured the middle finger on his throwing hand the second series of the game when he hit it against the hand of Bears linebacker Leonard Floyd trying to throw a ball away.

Medical personnel immediately surrounded Stafford when he came off the field, but he wasn't going to let something like a finger injury keep him out of the game, even if it was the middle finger of his throwing hand. The equipment staff gave Stafford a glove to help him grip the ball, and away he went.

"He told us that (the injury) would affect him," receiver Anquan Boldin said. "But he just told us to stick with him. He made some throws when he had to."

Stafford admitted after the game that it took some time to adjust to the glove. He had the finger wrapped after the game. He said he hadn't received X-rays yet, but that he planned to get some.

"Is there a 'C, all of the above?'" he said when asked if his grip or throwing motion were affected by the injury.

"I just tried to play through it, play as good as I could. I let those guys know that it may not be pretty coming in there, but those guys made some great plays for me."

Stafford managed the injury and was still able to complete 21 of 35 passes for 223 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. After throwing a pick-six to surrender the lead in the fourth quarter, Stafford guided the Lions into the end zone on their very next possession, capping off the drive with a 7-yard touchdown run from him.

It helped Stafford collect his eighth come-from-behind victory in the fourth quarter or overtime this season, the most in NFL history for a single season.


The Bears weren't going to let Detroit's pass rush affect the game early on. They played a lot of max protection, ran the football and got the ball out of quarterback Matt Barkley's hands.

Detroit's pass rush recorded just one sack in the game, but it was obvious in the fourth quarter that they had worn down Chicago's protection through the course of the game. Needing to get the ball down the field and score during their final possession, Chicago couldn't max protect, and Detroit's pass rush came alive.

The Lions ramped up their pressure late, and the result was two of the biggest plays in the game in the final minute.

Trailing 20-17 with under a minute to play, the Bears thought they had made a huge 27-yard completion from Barkley to Cameron Meredith down to the Lions 16-yard line with 48 seconds left, but left tackle Charles Leno Jr. was called for holding on Ziggy Ansah. The penalty moved the Bears back to their own 16-yard line and forced a 1st and 20.

The very next play was a 23-yard completion to Daniel Braverman to Detroit's 30-yard line, but again, the Bears were called for holding. This time it was Ted Larsen on Haloti Ngata. It pushed the Bears back to their 37-yard line with just 37 seconds left in the game.

Detroit's defense was able to hold out from there.

Those two plays don't show up in the stat book for Ansah and Ngata, but they showed how Detroit's pass rush was effective late, and affected the outcome.


Make it seven straight games the Lions' defense has held opponents to 20 points or fewer. The streak is the longest during a single season for Detroit since 1961 (Weeks 5-13).

Detroit entered the game allowing just 16.3 points per game over that stretch, second fewest in the league, and were good once again on Sunday.

"We see it coming together," said defensive end Kerry Hyder, who recorded his team-leading eighth sack.

"We gave up some big runs in the first half, but we're coming together as a defense. We complement each other and we're making plays as a unit, and I can see us getting stronger. That's a great thing to see."

The Lions held talented Bears rookie running back Jordan Howard to less than 100 yards (86) on the ground. They allowed just 10 points from the Bears offense, and kept Chicago to less than 300 total yards for the game.

"Our defense is coming together, they play really well as a unit," head coach Jim Caldwell said.  "It's good to see (DeAndre) Levy back out there running around making some plays for us. Our linebacking corps is a good corps.

"Our guys up front do a great job with it, as well as the secondary. I think they're coming together in a number of different areas, to be honest with you, so we've just got to keep that going."

Detroit will try and push that streak to eight games next week in New York against a Giants team that entered their Sunday night contest against the Cowboys 24th in scoring and 26th in total offense.


The barometer for a successful game running the football for Caldwell is to reach 100 yards as a team with at least a 4.0 average per attempt.

Check and check.

The Lions rushed 28 times for 114 yards for an average of 4.1 yards per attempt against a pretty physical and stout Bears defense. It's the first time the Lions have gone over 100 yards rushing as a team since Week 2, when starting running back Ameer Abdullah went on IR with a foot injury.

Detroit was able to control the game in the second half with 88 yards on the ground.

"(Zach) Zenner had some really big, tough, strong runs and so did Wash (Dwayne Washington)," Caldwell said.

"I thought the guys hung in there and particularly when you get 88 in the second half, that's key."

Both Washington (4.0) and Zenner (5.1) averaged more than 4.0 yards per carry in the game.

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