Both Chicago and Detroit's passing attacks received top billing in the lead up to Monday Night Football’s NFC North showdown. Instead, fans were presented with a defensive showcase.
The only trips into the end zone occurred on the first Bears possession of the night and the Lions’ last. They came 55 minutes apart but despite Detroit’s abysmal offensive showing, the game wasn’t won until the Bears recovered an onside kick with just 30 seconds remaining.
Like son of Detroit, Mitt Romney's performance in the presidential debate, the Lions prevented the result from being ruled a TKO but ultimately, the offense has plenty of questions to answer moving forward. The rushing attack was putrid, Burleson has set sail for the land of the injured reserves and Matt Stafford has regressed significantly since last season. Beside's that and they're 2-4 record, things are going swimmingly at Ford Field.
Here are the three factors that contributed to the Bears win besides Lovie Smith's 9-2 record on Monday Night Football.
Matt Stafford’s Poor Mechanics And Shaky Decision-Making
It’s difficult to gauge whose reputation has taken a bigger hit this spring Matt Stafford’s, the Detroit Lions or Snoop Lion’s.
Stafford’s mechanics and footwork have affected his ball placement this season as the 24-year-old quarterback has fallen into bad habits. After throwing for 5,000 yards in his first full season as a starter, Stafford has become far too reliant on his natural arm strength. As a result Stafford has begun losing his composure when the pocket gets compromised by throwing with a sidearm motion and committing the cardinal quarterback sin of releasing the ball after rocking his weight onto his back foot.
The turnover-prone quarterback left his manpurse open and generously donated a few passes to a Bears secondary that pickpockets quarterbacks better than any unit in the league. Thanks to a few cornerback drops, the only pass picked off was the game-clincher by D.J. Moore in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter.
On Detroit’s first drive of the second quarter, Stafford also overthrew Titus Young as he was streaking downfield on 3rd and long.
The aforementioned Snoop Lion comparisons are fitting whether it’s Lions receivers or Mikel Leshoure fumbling deep in Bear territory at the end of the second half, Detroit’s skill-position players were dropping the pigskin like it was hot all night.
Once again, it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Lions began to mount a comeback. Unfortunately, a fumble by running back Joquie Bell, who got parallel with the turf in an attempt to leap for the end zone from the 4-yard line, and a fourth and goal interception robbed the Lions of six points that would have sent Monday Night Football into overtime.
The Bears were outgained by the Lions, 340 yards to 296, but the Bears stuck to their strengths by forcing a trio of redzone turnovers.
The four takeways recorded by the Bears defense makes them the NFL’s top defensive unit in the turnover department. Meanwhile, Detroit now has an NFL-worst, five redzone turnovers this season.
Stafford’s tough night wasn’t entirely of his own doing. Rushing the football against Chicago’s top-ranked run defense is tougher than barreling a suspicious SVU through a White House checkpoint and the Bears entered Week 7 with a league-high 13 interceptions.
Alternatively, the aerial attack was the focal point of Detroit’s offense Monday night, due in part to the deficiencies with their paltry ground game. However, Nate Burleson suffering a broken leg after making a 16-yard reception in the third quarter, only worsened the Lions outlook.
Detroit entered Week 7 with the second-best passing attack in the NFL but 6-foot-2 Bears cornerback, Charles Tillman, turned the NFL’s most athletic receiver, Calvin Johnson, into a non-factor.
Tillman draped himself all over Johnson on a fade route in the corner of the end zone and slapped a sure-fire touchdown pass out of the Madden cover boy’s hands.
Johnson was targeted 11 times by Stafford but only recorded three catches for 34 yards.
Conversely, Brandon Marshall, Johnson’s Bears counterpart took advantage of the Lions’ decimated secondary by hauling in six passes for 81 yards and a touchdown.