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NOTEBOOK: Lions motivated by last year's performance in Chicago

As part of his film preparation this week, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford went back and looked at last year's game in Chicago.

He came out of that film study more motivated than he did going in.

"Not a fun one to watch," Stafford said Wednesday. "We played about as poorly as we can play. Their defense played well, we didn't execute really at any position at a good enough level to probably win the game, so it's a motivating factor looking at that tape."

The Lions lost that game 17-14 last year to fall to 1-4 on the year. Stafford had two interceptions and no touchdowns, and his 56.8 passer rating was the worst since his benching vs. Arizona back in 2015.

The only touchdown for the Lions in that game was an 85-yard Andre Roberts punt return late in the fourth quarter with less than two minutes remaining.

That was also the game where Golden Tate was seemingly benched in the second half due to inconsistent play. He didn't receive an audible from Stafford late in the second quarter, and the miscommunication led to an interception deep in Chicago territory. Tate finished that game catching just one of four targets for one yard.

"I don't remember much about that game, but it was not a good game for us," Tate said. "We were a good team back then, but we did not show it, at all. So, we're looking to go out there and play our style of football."

The Lions were on a two-game losing streak last year when they went into Soldier Field. Tate was also in a mini-slump entering that game. He'd caught four balls for 40 yards the week prior in Green Bay and had just two catches for 13 yards the week prior to that in a loss vs. Tennessee.

This time around, the Lions head to Chicago winners of two straight, and Tate is playing some of the best football of his career. He's averaged seven catches and 98 yards over his last four games, and has scored twice. He's been on a tear the last month.

"(Tate's) seeing the game well at the moment, I feel like I am as well and really all our skill guys are doing a nice job," Stafford said of the current state of the Lions' offense.

"But just like anything in this league, you got to prove it week in and week out. You can't ride into a game saying, 'We got a great run game, we got a great pass game, we got this, or that.' You've got to prove it every week."


Safety Glover Quin has been the king of the interceptions here in Detroit since his arrival in 2013. His 19 interceptions are the second-most in the NFL over that span.

He's either led the Lions in interceptions or been tied for the team lead in every season he's been a Lion, except for his first year in 2013, when linebacker DeAndre Levy led the team with six.

Interceptions are kind of Quin's thing, but through nine games this year, there's a new kid on the block leading that department for the Lions – cornerback Darius Slay. An interception to clinch the win last week gave Slay four on the year, which not only leads the Lions, but leads all NFL cornerbacks. Quin has three on the year.

"He's trying to lead the team in interceptions this year," Quin said of Slay Wednesday with a grin on his face. "I've got seven games. Healthy competition."

Is there a small wager on this competition? 

"Nah, but if I catch one Sunday and we get to four apiece, I think we can make a little wager for the next six games and see what happens," Quin said.

Slay, who considers Quin a big brother, close friend and mentor, is taking considerable pride in his name showing up above Quin's in the interception department in the stat book.

"A lot," Slay said of the satisfaction it's currently giving him. "He's been beating me since I've been here. He's been cheating. I tipped a couple of them to him. He doesn't tip me any. He's so selfish."

Slay said the defense is just trying to be a turnover machine as a whole, and it really doesn't matter where they come from, as long as they come, but don't think for a moment he doesn't want to top his mentor just this once.


Run fits and tackling.

Those were the two issues Quin said were mostly to blame for the Lions giving up 201 yards on the ground to the Browns last week.

The Lions still rank in the top 10 in run defense this season, but last week marked the third time a team has gashed them for more than 150 rushing yards in a game.

It's going to happen on occasion in this league, some of these running backs are just so good, but Quin made it clear speaking with reporters this week that it's an area they have to clean up if they're going to get to where they want to go these last seven games. 

"You play games from week to week and the one thing you look to do every week is stop the run," Quin said. "So, when you're out there and a team is able to run the ball on you, it's not good. It allows them to control the clock. It allows them to control the game. It opens up so many more things in their offense when you can't stop the run.

"We definitely have to be more consistent in that area. Definitely got to make sure we're locked in and disciplined in what we're doing as a defense."

It doesn't get any easier in that regard for the Lions this week vs. Chicago. Bears running back Jordan Howard is fifth in the NFL with 716 rushing yards, and the Bears enter Sunday as the league's ninth best rushing offense, averaging 121.8 yards per game.

"Yeah, you're just going to find very few teams that go unblemished throughout a stretch in this league, without having a couple games where you get dented pretty good (in the run game)," Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said.

"It's just not going to happen. Just take a look at the stats. So, all I say is you don't want to make it a habit, and we've got to get better."

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