DETROIT — During a meeting last week, John Fox presented the stats to his players: in yards allowed per game, the Bears were a top-10 defense.
Sunday, in one drive, they had a chance to prove it — and watched quarterback Matthew Stafford lead the Lions to a game-winning touchdown with 3:17 to play.
“I think we’re doing a great job sticking together as a team,” outside linebacker Pernell McPhee said. “I think we’re doing a great job competing. But once the offense gets us in a position to win the game, guys like me gotta step up and finish.”
After recording interceptions on consecutive drives — including Cre’Von LeBlanc’s 24-yard pick six — the defense was handed their first lead of the game.
The Lions then went 76 yards in only seven plays.
It was ugly from the start: an 8-yard pass to Marvin Jones followed by an 11-yard Zach Zenner run and a 15-yard facemask flag on defensive end Cornelius Washington.
Two plays later, Stafford threw a 23-yard pass to Anquan Boldin. Two plays after that, Bryce Callahan was flagged for a 13-yard pass interference penalty.
And two plays after that, Stafford, playing with an injured middle finder on his right hand, scrambled for a seven-yard score.
With his receivers covered, Stafford stepped to the right of Bears defensive end Mitch Unrein, and searched for a seam to run upfield, away from outside linebacker Leonard Floyd.
Stafford started sprinting at the 15, when seven Bears — all but the pass-rushers — were either inside the 2 or in the end zone.
Inside linebacker John Timu missed a tackle at the 3, and rookies Deon Bush and Nick Kwiatkoski barely touched Stafford as he reached the goal line.
“I saw a (receiver) in my zone, just made sure he didn’t throw it,” Timu said. “That was my fault. Gotta tackle.”
Stafford’s mobility had been a point of emphasis for the Bears all week.
“We knew when it comes down to it that he’s going to take off and run,” Timu said.
He did Sunday.
“We just gotta close it out,” outside linebacker Willie Young said. “It wasn’t a difficult task for us, it was just a matter of us closing it out. He obviously beat us with his feet in that one particular play.”
The Bears failed to take advantage, defensive end Akiem Hicks said.
“Something that we struggle with,” he said. “Something that every week we go in and we say, ‘This is what we’re going to do better, and this is how we’re going to prepare in order to capitalize on those moments.’