Burning Questions: Heartbreak and heartburn for the Detroit Lions from too much Chase Daniel and two too many interceptions by Matthew Stafford late in the game resulted in a 23-16 loss to the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving Day at Ford Field.
Question: What were the key factors in the game, and what does it mean to the Lions for the rest of the season?
Answer: The key factor was the play of the quarterbacks. Backup Chase Daniel threw two touchdown passes and didn't make any major mistakes while Matthew Stafford had no touchdown passes and two game-deciding interceptions.
The bottom line: The Lions can forget about any shred of a hope of making the playoffs. They have a 4-7 won-loss record while the Bears took a stronger grip on first place on the NFC North by winning their fifth straight game to get to 8-3.
The Bears have beaten the Lions twice in 12 days, and it wasn't by luck. They're the better team. There is no doubt about that.
Q. Stafford: Is he to blame for losing the game?
A. It wasn't all his fault, but with the ball in his hand in crunch time he had two interceptions on the final two possessions.
The first one was returned 41 yards for a touchdown by Eddie Jackson to break a tie and give the Bears a 23-16 lead – ultimately the final score.
The second one came when the Lions had driven to the Bears' 12 with a first down and two minutes left.
It was third and nine when Stafford tried to hit tight end Michael Roberts in the end zone. The pass was not close to Roberts. Kyle Fuller made the interception that ended the drive, clinched the game, and now has the Lions looking at the bleak prospect of playing the last five games without a legitimate chance of making the postseason.
View in-game photos from the Detroit Lions Week 12 game against the Chicago Bears.
Q. What was the biggest surprise of the game?
A. "Surprise" is the wrong word. It's should be the biggest disappointment, and it was how Daniel was able to stay under control and play within himself to win a big game with a lot going against him – chiefly his lack of playing time, plus playing on the road against a Lions team that was desperate to win.
There were a lot of ups and downs in the game, but in the end it was the Bears who were up and the Lions as down as they possibly could be.
Q. Bears TD, lead: What stood out about the Bears' drive to a touchdown with 40 seconds left in the first half that gave them a 9-7 lead.
A. It was the way they put the ball in Daniel's hands, giving him the freedom to throw on every down. It was a five-play drive that covered 65 yards, and all five were pass completions.
None of the Bears' receivers were seriously challenged on that drive. And Daniel performed like he'd been a starter for all nine of his seasons on NFL active rosters instead of a career backup who'd thrown only one TD pass in his career before Thursday's game.
It was an impressive display of play-calling and execution on the part of the Bears, and just the opposite for the Lions, who failed to stop the drive.
Q. Lions' TD, 13-9 lead: What got the Lions' offense out of its doldrums in the third quarter when LeGarrette Blount finished off an 80-yard drive with his second touchdown on goal to go?
A. Blount carried four times in the six-play drive, but two big throws downfield by Matthew Stafford helped loosen up the Bears' defense. He hadn't done that to that point. Kenny Golladay had a 43-yard catch on the second play of the possession, and Theo Riddick had one for 17 yards to make it first and goal at the eight.
Blount hammered it home from there with two straight four-yard gains, but the threat of the pass could not be discounted as a factor.
Q. Two for two: Right call by both teams when they went for two-point conversions? Both failed.
A. Not what I would have done on either one – the Bears on their TD that made it 9-7, and the Lions on Blount's second TD that made it 13-9.
Q. Fourth and kick: Right call to go for the field goal on fourth and one at the Bears' two-yard line to tie the score in the fourth quarter?
A. Yes. It's what I would have done. It made it 16-16, with 7:44 left in regulation. Matt Prater was automatic on the 20-yard field goal. However, it pointed out why I would not have gone for two points after Blount's second TD.
Q. Quin's hit, flag: Glover Quin was flagged for an illegal hit on Daniel in the first quarter. It was second and 13, and Quin hit Daniel on a scramble. Right call by the officials?
A. Right call, no doubt. Daniel was sliding feet first, and Quin hit him with his shoulder. The officials don't call a penalty on that kind of play every time, but they do it more often than not. That was a more often play.
Q. Fourth and go: Right call on fourth and one by head coach Matt Patricia to go for it instead of trying a field goal?
A. Yes. Right call, even though LeGarrette Blount had been stopped on third and one on the previous play. It was fourth and inches at the Bears' 16. Even if the Lions had failed – which they almost did – it would have forced the Bears to drive the length of the field to score after a stop.
Q. Fourth and luck: The Lions passed instead of running, and fullback Nick Bellore caught the deflected pass for a first down. Was it a lucky bounce for the Lions?
A. Yes. It was lucky that the ball bounced to a spot where Bellore could catch it, but it wasn't luck that Bellore was alert to make the play. That's the kind of play he's made throughout his career. He is a role player whose play exceeds what is expected in his role.
It was good that the Lions got a little luck, but the way the game ended they're past the point of needing luck. They're at the miracle stage.