When Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was ruled out Sunday morning, the Bears were met with a conundrum: could a team that hadn’t won a game in six weeks really be in a lose-lose situation?
Maybe they were. But they won anyway, 20-13, improving to 4-5 after starting the season 3-1.
Their win came against backup quarterback Jeff Driskel and also the league’s second-worst defense, but the Bears winning any game has yet to be academic. They improved to 4-4 in the eight games in which they’ve been favored this year.
Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky put together his best stretch since a Week 3 win against the woeful Redskins, throwing three touchdown passes in as many drives sandwiched around halftime.
After struggling throughout the first half, the Bears offense went 80 yards on 10 plays, culminating with Ben Braunecker’s diving 18-yard touchdown catch on third down with 32 seconds left in the first half. Amazingly, it was the first touchdown by any Bears tight end this season.
The Bears led 7-6 at halftime. They received to start the second half and posted perhaps their best drive of the year: a five-play, 76-yard sprint that was highlighted by a 33-yard deep ball to Allen Robinson and a 22-yard pass interference call against Darius Slay on another throw to Robinson. Tarik Cohen caught a swing pass left and ran nine yards untouched for a touchdown. Eddy Pineiro pushed the extra point right, though, giving the Bears a 14-6 lead.
Six plays later, the Bears were back in the south end zone again. Inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski — playing only because Danny Trevathan suffered a grisly left elbow injury — undercut backup quarterback Jeff Driskel’s throw for an interception that he returned four yards to the Lions’ 25. After a botched reverse and a two-yard David Montgomery run, Trubisky found Taylor Gabriel deep right for a 24-yard score.
Over the three drives, Trubisky went 10-for-12 for 132 yards and three touchdowns. He ran for eight yards, too, after scooping up Cody Whitehair’s errant snap.
He wasn’t nearly as effective the rest of the game, finishing 16-for-23 for 173 yards and a 131.0 passer rating.
Until the last drive of the first half, the Bears did their best impression of the sad-sack unit that totaled nine yards against the Eagles.
Whitehair, their new center, made snapping an adventure after swapping spots with James Daniels for the first time this year. And Trevathan left on the second possession after his left elbow bent the wrong way as he landed after pressuring Driskel.
The Lions relied on two Matt Prater field goals — including a 54-yarder that the Bears might have avoided had they not declined an illegal formation penalty on a failed third down — for their first-half points.
They didn’t score again until there was around six minutes left. One play after Driskel caught his own pass after It was batted down to gain six yards, he threw a deep ball down the right sideline toward Kenny Golladay. Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller was step-for-step with Golladay, but stumbled as the ball threw the air. Golladay caught it, bringing the Lions within seven.
The Bears punted after running four plays, giving the Lions the ball down seven with 3:31 to play. The Lions dropped two passes on the drive but later thought they’d converted fourth-and-1 from the Bears’ 36. Golladay was flagged for offensive pass interference, though, and the Lions threw an incomplete pass on fourth-and-11 with 2:13 to play.
The Bears ran three times and punted with 1:48 to play, giving the Lions the ball back at their own 10. The Lions went down the field, and eventually had first down at the Bears’ 28 after Marvin Jones’ catch was reviewed – and confirmed – with 42 seconds left.
A spike, a three-yard completion and another spike later, the Lions had fourth-and-7 from the Bears’ 25 with seven seconds to play. Driskell rolled left and threw an incomplete pass into the end zone as time expired, securing the Bears’ win.