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O'HARA: What we learned from Week 13

Change creates change, from the top down.

That's one of the things we learned in Darrell Bevell's first game as interim head coach of the Detroit Lions.

Bevell brought a jolt of energy combined with a feeling of freedom on the playing field, and it was reflected in the Lions' 34-30 road win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

Aside from the victory itself, that might have been the most important development in Bevell's first game as head coach.

Among the other things we learned include changes that were made on defense after a shoddy first half in which the Bears had five possessions and scored on four of them – three touchdowns and a field goal – and an emergency replacement on the offensive line showed the importance of preparing backups to go into the game at a moment's notice.

We start with a change in attitude.

Bevell talked about wanting the players to have fun and "play with their hair on fire" in his first press conference after being promoted from offensive coordinator to head coach when Matt Patricia was let go.

A lot of that seemed to be directed at the defense, which had been the most underperforming unit behind the offense and special teams.

"From a freedom standpoint, it felt like we could go out there, let loose, play free – don't worry about making mistakes," said cornerback Amani Oruwariye. "Just go out there and play. Guys responded. They brought the energy.

"I thought we did a pretty good job. It can only get better from here."

There has to be a reality check here. The Lions didn't have much to celebrate in the last two games – a 20-0 loss to the Panthers, and a 41-25 beatdown to the Houston Texans.

They needed a lift, and in the change of coaches, Bevell was the right man at the right time.

And he got the right result to keep his players' attention.

Defensive change: For the first 30 minutes, it looked like the same defense – or worse – that had played so poorly. The Lions gave up 23 points and 253 yards in the first half. In the second half, the Bears were held to 136 yards and seven points.

The bottom line: The Bears scored on four of five possessions in the first half and on only one of six in the second half.

"Huge difference from half to half," Bevell said.

He credited defensive coordinator Cory Undlin and his staff for making the necessary adjustments.

"Cory and the defensive staff did a great job of making adjustments," Bevell said. "The defense also settled down a little bit. They knew it's a long game. Just continue to play. That's what I've been preaching.

"Don't even worry about the scoreboard. I think they bought into that. The adjustments they made were solid. I think we tackled a little better. They made plays in the second half.

"Big plays for us."

Line change: The offensive line is one of the Lions' strongest units, and it has proven to be one of the deepest.

Four of the five starters played all 68 offensive snaps, and it would have been all five if right tackle Tyrell Crosby had not gone out with an injury in the first half after playing the first 19 snaps.

Matt Nelson, who was signed by the Lions last year as an undrafted free agent who played defensive line at Iowa, took over for Crosby and played the last 49 snaps.

Nelson went head up with Bears linebacker Khalil Mack, a five-time Pro Bowler and three time All-Pro.

Nelson shut him out. The only entry Mack had on the stats sheet was that he played 55 of the Bears' 68 defensive snaps – without a tackle, sack or quarterback hit.

What we learned is that we should never be surprised that a backup has kept himself ready to play.

And give credit to the coaching staff – offensive line coach Hank Fraley and his assistant Billy Yates – for having backups ready to play.

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