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O'HARA: What we learned from Week 12

Statistics and game experience don't tell the entire story or guarantee anything when it comes to quarterback matchups.

That's one of the things we learned in the Detroit Lions' season-shattering 23-16 loss to the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving Day that has them and their fans still feeling like they were served year-old turkey at their holiday meal.

A lot of things were on the Lions' side going into the game – including the quarterback matchup, home field and tradition -- and there were situations that favored them during the game. But as we've learned before and found out again, nothing is for sure in the NFL, including being at home for a holiday or having to travel, things can turn around for players – as it did for the Lions in the running game – and players with small roles can make big plays.

We start with the quarterbacks – the Bears' Chase Daniel the unlikely winner in a matchup against Matthew Stafford.

QB connections: Before Thursday Daniel had thrown 78 passes with 51 completions, one touchdown and one interception since entering the NFL in 2009 as an undrafted free agent. No need to bring up Stafford's career stats. Suffice to say, he had the advantage in game experience by a wide margin.

Daniel's start, necessitated by a shoulder injury sustained by Mitchell Trubisky in the previous game, was only the third of his career, and his first since 2014.

He did nothing flashy, and just as important had no major mistakes. He completed 27 of 37 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns without an interception or a fumble.

What was in Daniel's record as a 32-year-old novice starter who's been with four teams that indicated he would play so efficiently?

As we learned, it was the connections, not stats. He has prepped under head coaches who are regarded as brilliant offensive coaches.

Daniel had four seasons, in two stops, with the Saints under head coach Sean Payton. He had three seasons in Kansas City under Andy Reid, and one season in Philadelphia under Doug Pederson, a long-time NFL backup quarterback who spent three seasons in KC as Reid's offensive coordinator.

And as important as anything was Daniel's ties to Bears first-year head coach Matt Nagy. Nagy was the quarterbacks coach for the three years Daniel was with the Chiefs.

Nagy talked about his connection with Daniel after Thursday's game, and how Daniel got ready to run the offense without any live practice because of the short preparation time between games.

"I have a great relationship with him," Nagy told reporters. "That's why he's here.

"For him to be able to come out here and do what he did, protect the football and be a leader when he needed to be a leader – I thought he did a great job."

Home field: It wasn't an advantage for the Lions last year, and it caused them to miss the playoffs with a 9-7 record. They were 4-4 at home and did not have a win at Ford Field against a team with a winning record.

They're 3-3 at home this year, but at least they have three quality wins at Ford Field over the Patriots, Packers and Panthers.

They feasted at home the last two times they made the playoffs, going 7-1 in 2014 and 6-2 in 2016.

Blount, uphill/downhill: That's the way the game seemed to go from the first half to the second for LeGarrette Blount.

In the first half it looked like he was running uphill, with five carries for eight yards and a touchdown on a four-yard run.

It was downhill in the second half – 14 carries for 80 yards and another four-yard TD run.

With fans and certain media members (guilty as self-charged) wondering why Blount was still getting the ball, the Lions stuck with him.

Things change in the NFL, sometimes for the better.

Quality over quantity: It's the plays that count, not the snap count.

DeShawn Shead played 14 snaps Thursday, fewest of any Lions cornerback. He had two tackles and forced a fumble that was recovered. It stopped a Bears possession at midfield and led to Blount's first TD for a 7-0 Lions lead.

Fullback Nick Bellore, who's always on high alert, played eight offensive snaps. He caught a deflected pass on fourth and one for a first down at the Bears' 11-yard line. Two plays later, Blount scored for the 7-0 lead.

Bears, happy travelers: They supposedly were handicapped by having to play a home game Sunday night, then travel to Detroit to play three full days and a short one later. That is a valid concern, one the NFL should take into consideration in scheduling future Thursday games.

However, whatever travel fatigue the Bears experienced – if any – didn't show on these three plays late in the fourth quarter:

Pick 1: Eddie Jackson intercepts Stafford's pass and returns if for the winning touchdown with six minutes left.

Pick 2: Kyle Fuller intercepts a pass in the end zone meant for tight end Michael Roberts with 1:07 left to kill a potential game-tying drive by the Lions.

Clinching run: One minute left, third and nine at the Bears' 21 after Fuller's pick – Tarik Cohen and his blockers drive the Lions back for a 10-yard gain that lets the Bears run out the clock.

Bottom line: Last six minutes, three plays that decide the game, and the Bears make all three.

Never underestimate what world class athletes can do.

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