The Detroit Lions knew they had to stop the Chicago Bears rushing attack and take advantage of opportunities they got on offense against a stout Bears defense if they were going to keep their playoff hopes on track with a win over their NFC North rival Saturday afternoon.
Check. And. Check.
Chicago entered the game as the league's seventh best rushing team, averaging nearly 125 yards per game, but they had just one rushing yard in the first quarter, and finished with just 43 total for the game. Bears running back Jordan Howard, who has over 1,000 rushing yards on the season, had just 37 yards on 10 attempts. Don't forget Chicago rushed for 222 yards in the first matchup between these teams back in Week 11.
Detroit's defense also recorded three turnovers on interceptions by Darius Slay (2) and Quandre Diggs.
On offense, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford led four scoring drives and threw two touchdown passes to help the Lions secure a 20-10 victory. The win is Detroit's second in a row, and improves their record to 8-6 on the season.
TJ Jones (3 yards) and Eric Ebron (8) were the recipients of Stafford's two touchdown passes.
Matt Prater added field goals of 48 and 31 yards.
QB Comparison: Stafford was extremely efficient, completing 25-of-33 passes for 237 yards with two touchdowns and no turnovers for a 115.3 passer rating. He was sacked four times.
Bears rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky completed 31 of his 46 passes for 314 yards and a touchdown with those three interceptions for a passer rating of 66.8.
Two in a row: Diggs continues to make big plays since moving from cornerback to safety, and Saturday's fourth-quarter interception might be the biggest of them all.
With the Lions leading 20-3, Diggs picked off Trubisky in the Lions end zone to thwart a scoring opportunity.
Diggs recorded his first career interception last week in Tampa Bay. Make it two in a row for him.
Happy Holidays: The Lions' offense provided the Bears with an early present in the form of a late first-half fumble that led to Chicago's first points right before the half.
The Lions faced a 3rd and 15 at their own 15-yard line with just 18 seconds left in the first half, and did the right thing to just run a draw and take some time off the clock. Unfortunately, Riddick fumbled the football at the Lions 27-yard line with 12 seconds left, which gave the Bears an opportunity to kick a 41-yard field goal for their first points to trim the Lions lead to 13-3 at the half.
Key stat: The Bears were penalized 13 times for 97 yards. A number of those negated big plays on both offense and special teams.
The Lions were penalized eight times for 58 yards.
Play of the game: Midway through the second quarter, the Lions were facing a 3rd and 18 at their own 30-yard line. The play broke down, and Stafford rolled right looking for a receiver. He saw Marvin Jones Jr. one-on-one deep.
Jones has been a big-play receiver for Stafford all year, recording 16 catches of 20-plus yards. No. 17 might have been his finest.
Stafford lofted the ball up high and deep, and Jones went up and high-pointed the ball over Bears safety Eddie Jackson for a 58-yard gain. The gain down to the Chicago 12-yard line set up a TJ Jones touchdown catch three plays later.
Injury report: Already without starting right tackle Rick Wagner (ankle) and center Travis Swanson (concussion), the Lions lost right guard T.J. Lang (foot) in the first half. He didn't return. Veteran Don Barclay finished the game in his place.
The Lions lost receiver TJ Jones (shoulder) and running back Theo Riddick (wrist) to injury in the second half. Neither player returned.
Cornerback Darius Slay left the game briefly in the first half to be evaluated for a concussion, but those tests were negative and he returned to the game.