| Detroit Free Press
Matthew Stafford talks clutch drive in Detroit Lions’ win vs. Bears
Detroit Lions’ Matthew Stafford on Dec. 6, 2020, talks about the clutch drive that setup a comeback win vs. the Chicago Bears.
CHICAGO — Romeo Okwara stuck his left hand out as he lunged past Germain Ifedi and swatted the ball out of Mitchell Trubisky’s hands, to the Soldier Field grass.
As John Penisini fell on the fumble at the Chicago Bears’ 7-yard line, Okwara sprung to his feet and high-stepped off the field.
Two plays later, Adrian Peterson plowed over a pair of Bears defenders, tossing the second one away like an old blanket, and emphatically spiked the ball to ground. A half-dozen Detroit Lions mobbed him in the end zone, including quarterback Matthew Stafford, who greeted Peterson with a resounding headbutt.
Interim Lions head coach Darrell Bevell, when he replaced Matt Patricia last week, urged his players to make football fun again, and on Sunday they followed their new boss’ lead.
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Stafford threw for a season-high 402 yards, Peterson ran for two touchdowns, including the winning score with 1:37 to play, and the defense delivered two big stops in the final 2 minutes as the Lions rallied from a late 10-point deficit to give Bevell his first win as head coach, 34-30, over the Bears.
“My emotions right now, I can’t even think straight,” Bevell said after the game. “I’m just trying to wrap my head around this whole thing and what just happened. It was just, like I said, a great job by these guys of believing from the moment we started until the end.”
While the Lions developed a nasty habit of losing double-digit leads under Patricia, whose uptight ways kept the locker room on edge for most of his 2½ seasons in Detroit, they showed a newfound resilience despite some familiar struggles Sunday.
The Bears scored the game’s first nine points and led 30-20 early in the fourth quarter, but the Lions forced two straight three-and-outs after a Stafford interception seemed to doom them with 9:22 to play.
Wide receiver Marvin Jones said Sunday’s game at Soldier Field felt like “a home game” because of the energy emanating from the Lions sideline after big plays, and Stafford presented a game ball to Bevell in a celebratory locker room after the game.
“It was great,” Stafford said. “Guys were having a blast. Obviously, a crazy one, down to the wire. Defense made some huge plays late in the game. We were able to put enough points on the board to obviously come away with the win. Happy for Bev, man. Happy for our team. Just excited to get a win and thought it was fitting he needs to get that game ball. It’s his first game as a head coach and to get a win is huge.”
Bevell’s chances of starting his head coaching career 1-0 seemed bleak with 4:33 to play and the Lions pinned at their own 4-yard line.
But after throwing incomplete to T.J. Hockenson on first down, Stafford completed six straight passes to lead a quick 96-yard scoring drive, culminating with a 25-yard touchdown to Jones.
The Lions pinned the Bears deep on the ensuing kickoff, and after Chicago’s first two plays yielded 6 yards, Okwara came flying off the edge on third-and-4 to knock the ball out of Trubisky’s hand.
“The coaching point is two hands on the ball in the pocket, which I am always trying to do,” Trubisky said. “I think I was just separating to where I was going to throw. I saw Anthony Miller over the middle. So I don’t know if I was pump faking and clutching it or if I was going to pull the trigger. Time was just running out. He made a good play. Credit goes to them. I just got to take care of the football.”
Peterson barreled over Roquan Smith and Jaylon Johnson for the go-ahead touchdown, and the Bears drove the ball to the Lions’ 20-yard line on the ensuing possession.
Amani Oruwariye hauled Allen Robinson down just short of a first down on third-and-5, and Kevin Strong and Reggie Ragland teamed up to stuff David Montgomery for no gain on fourth-and-1.
After a replay review confirmed Montgomery was short of the first down, Lions players celebrated wildly on the sideline their second win since Oct. 25.
Ragland said he last made a game-winning stop in the final moments in peewee football, when his coach celebrated by taking the entire team for ice cream.
“When coach got fired, Bev was just like, ‘Man, y’all just let loose and have fun. Just keep being y’all selves,’” Ragland said. “I think everybody was just loose, and some guys who felt like they couldn’t really be loose, they was loose. I’m just excited for this team to go out there and get this win after being down 10. Being down 10 again, it showed the type of heart we got as a whole.”
At 5-7, the Lions remain mathematically in the playoff hunt with four games to play.
They host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday in the first of three games against likely playoff teams, and if they win, they will have matched their total of two NFC North wins in the entire Patricia era.
Stafford matched a season-high with three touchdown passes Sunday, including a 49-yarder to Quintez Cephus just before halftime, and Jones had game-highs of eight catches and 116 yards.
Montgomery ran for 72 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries, and the Bears, with the NFL’s worst rushing offense, had 140 yards rushing as a team. Trubisky, who had won his previous four starts against the Lions, completed 26 of 34 passes for 267 yards and one touchdown.
“I wish you could be in this locker room right now,” Bevell said. “I mean, it’s a buzzing in there. Yes, definitely I think those guys really, truly believed in themselves all the way again. I know I’m going to keep saying the same thing, but they didn’t measure the game. The whole game. It didn’t matter what the scoreboard was. That’s what I asked them to do — just keep playing, keep playing, keep playing and good things will happen at the end. And it did. And they made it happen.”