Detroit Lions-Chicago Bears Burning Questions: How the Lions responded to a coaching change; key wins for the Lions' defense when it mattered most, and what the Lions need to do for an encore from Sunday's 34-30 win over the Bears at Soldier Field:
Question: How did the Lions respond to Darrell Bevell's debut as interim head coach in his promotion from offensive coordinator?
Answer: What happens on the field on gameday is always more important than what happens on the sideline, but the Lions did something Sunday that was missing in previous games.
They fought back from a 30-20 deficit to get the lead, and when they got it they finished the job to get the victory.
They didn't quit when the Bears scored a touchdown in the final minute of the first half to extend their lead to 23-13, or when the Bears got the lead to 30-20 with a touchdown with 11:23 left in the game.
The defense had not played well for much of the game to that point, but it shut out the Bears the rest of the way and let the offense do its job. And it did, scoring two late touchdowns to win the game.
Question: What were the key wins by the defense?
Answer: There were a lot of defensive plays in the game, but three stood out in the fourth quarter.
The bottom line: The Lions have had trouble all year getting a big play on defense, and they got three that were crucial.
First was defensive end Everson Griffen's sack of Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky that that forced a punt when the Bears were driving to add to their 30-20 lead. The Lions converted that into Matthew Stafford's 25-yard TD pass to wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. that made it 30-27 with 2:18 left.
Next was a strip sack by defensive end Romeo Okwara that rookie tackle John Penisini recovered at the seven-yard line. Adrian Peterson scored the winning TD on a five-yard blast up the middle on third down.
And the defense sealed the win on Chicago's ensuing possession when defensive tackle Kevin Strong and linebacker Reggie Ragland stopped Bears running back David Montgomery a foot short of a first down on fourth down.
There were three big defensive plays the Lions needed to make to win, and they went three-for-three.
Question: What do the Lions have to do for an encore?
Answer: They have four games left, and they have to play each game – starting next Sunday against Green Bay – like it means something. Because it does.
The Lions bought into Bevell's message Sunday, even when there were times when it looked like the Bears were going to dominate them.
"I just told them to continue to keep playing," Bevell said in his Zoom interview. "Don't measure the game. Play until there's no time on the clock."
Bevell has the attention of his players, and they played Sunday like they have faith in his message. That's a good combination to have.
On Sunday, it was a winning combination.