Lions interim head coach Darrell Bevell met with the media Monday following Detroit's 34-30 victory in Chicago and ahead of another division matchup vs. the Packers this upcoming weekend.
Here are the key questions from that session:
Who did Bevell give special recognition to for their performances in Chicago Sunday?
Bevell started with Matt Nelson, who came in at right tackle for the injured Tyrell Crosby and played great. He gave up just two hurries and no sacks in 35 pass-rush reps playing opposite Khlail Mack for most of the contest. Bevell gave veteran wide receiver Danny Amendola a shout out for some of the big third-down catches he had in the game.
Bevell also mentioned Kevin Strong for making the game-ending tackle on 4th and 1 after being activated just a week earlier. He commended the performances of Everson Griffen and Romeo Okwara as edge rushers, both recording a sack, and Okwara for getting the strip-sack late that helped win the game. Lastly, Bevell gave rookie defensive tackle John Penisini some love for jumping on the Okwara forced fumble at the Bears' 7-yard line to set up the Adrian Peterson game-winning touchdown.
What was Sunday night like when Bevell got home and was able to reflect on his first win?
"It was amazing," he said. "I couldn't wait to talk to my wife. That was cool to talk to her and share it with my family for a little bit. It was truly an amazing day. I don't know if I could have written the script any better for the challenges that we faced in the game, how the guys played," Bevell said.
"I think the thing that made me the proudest was the people that were sending me texts and all those with phone calls and things and just talked about what it looked like on TV and how much fun the guys were having and how much energy they had."
That was the main goal for Bevell all week leading up to the game.
Why did Matt Prater handle kickoff duties?
It was a wrinkle put into the game plan just for Chicago. The Bears have one of the best kickoff return men in the NFL in Cordarrelle Patterson, and Detroit wanted to present some different style of kicks with some directional and mortar kicks. Patterson broke the first kick out to midfield, but was held in check the rest of the way.
What went behind the two Peterson run calls on Detroit's last offensive possession?
After the Lions recovered a Bears fumble at the 7-yard line with less than two minutes remaining and trailing 30-27, Bevell called a run to Peterson on 1st down that gained two yards. On 2nd and goal from the 5-yard-line, Bevell called on Peterson again running left. The veteran back found a hole and ran over a linebacker for a 5-yard touchdown that turned out to be the game winner.
Bevell said part of the reason why he called the runs was situational. He wanted Chicago to burn timeouts knowing he still had another down to score. He also said the left side of the offensive line was blocking really well, and they had some success running left earlier in the game. He thought they could score off the call, which they did.
Why did the team release wide receiver Marvin Hall on Saturday?
Bevell was very complimentary of Hall, who made some big plays in his two seasons in Detroit. It seems like it was really a numbers game after Mohamed Sanu became a bigger part of the offense. Sanu offers a little bit more versatility with his size and route combinations.
How are those decisions being made in the current setup in the front office?
The decisions about the current and future roster the rest of the season, along with who moves between the active and non-active roster in the coming weeks, is really a collaborative effort right now between Bevell and what Bevell described as a five-person cooperative front office consisting of vice president of player personnel Kyle O'Brien, director of player personnel Lance Newmark, director of pro scouting Rob Lohman, vice president of football administration Mike Disner and Lions team president Rod Wood.
"The five of them and then myself we did have a lot of discussions about the roster," Bevell said. "Really, I think it's been great communication. It was basically on a daily basis in terms of future roster moves but also just the more recent stuff of who was going to be active for the game, who's not going to be active.
"There's obviously discussions in terms of how guys are making it through practice between one or two guys, so I just think the communication between that group was outstanding."
What was the biggest difference between Detroit's first half and second half defensive performance Sunday?
Chicago scored three touchdowns and a field goal, and punted just once in the first half. The second half looked much different. Chicago scored one touchdown in the second half, punted three times, fumbled once, and the game ended when they couldn't convert a 4th and 1 and turned it over on downs.
Bevell said defensive coordinator Cory Undlin made some terrific halftime adjustments, the players on that side of the ball kind of settled down and settled into the game, and the defense did a much better job tackling in the second half than they did the first 30 minutes.