| Detroit Free Press
Detroit Lions interim coach Darrell Bevell on win vs. Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions interim head coach Darrell Bevell lauded his team Dec. 6, 2020, after its comeback win on the road vs. the Chicago Bears.
Reggie Ragland was playing little league football the last time he was part of a game-clinching fourth-and-1 stop. Afterward, his coach took the team out for ice cream.
The Detroit Lions linebacker got to relive his childhood Sunday when he was part of the defensive effort that stopped David Montgomery on a run up the gut on fourth-and-1 to preserve the Lions’ 34-30 comeback win over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
And will the Lions be getting ice cream?
“I don’t know,” Ragland said. “But I can find some ice cream and buy it. I know we can’t get around each other, but I can always get my guys some ice cream. I think I can afford that.”
Whether the Lions get ice or not, it doesn’t matter. Because it was the defense that put the cherry on top of their first win of the post-Matt Patricia era.
“But for us to get the first win (for Darrell Bevell),” Ragland said, “it’s exciting especially after everything we done been through these last couple of weeks, man. So I’m excited.”
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The defense struggled in the first half, when Montgomery and the Bears ran for 106 yards on their way to a 23-13 lead.
But the Lions rebounded and held the Bears to 34 rushing yards in the second half. More important than that, the defense came up big at the end with three-and-outs, a strip-sack that led to a fumble takeaway and stuffing Montgomery at the Detroit 20-yard line.
Bevell praised the complementary nature of the Lions’ comeback from a 20-10 deficit in final five minutes, culminating in the fourth-down stop.
“At the end of the game, I think that was really telling of where these guys are at, you know, to get a major turnover there in the red area, for us to be able to run that ball in,” Bevell said of Adrian Peterson’s winning 5-yard touchdown run. “Then we kicked the ball off and tackled (the Bears) inside the 20. And then to finish on a fourth-and-1, you know, gotta-have-it situation to get a fourth-down stop — I mean I think that says all you need to really ask about today’s game and how these players played and reacted.”
While most of the fireworks happened in the fourth quarter, the Lions’ defense played much better the entire second half. Besides stopping the run, the defense limited Mitchell Trubisky to 120 yards passing, sacked him twice, forced a fumble and held the Bears to seven points in the final two quarters.
“At halftime, we kind of settled down a lot,” Okwara said. “We came out in the second half and played pretty decent. We slowed down the run game a little more in the second half. We started to play more like ourselves and we made a couple of plays at the end there.”
One of those plays was Okwara’s huge strip-sack.
After the Bears scored early in the fourth quarter to take a 20-10 lead, the Lions’ defense forced two consecutive three-and-outs. The Lions scored on a deep pass to Marvin Jones to cut the deficit to 30-27 with 2:18 left. After a great mortar-flight kickoff by Matt Prater and a short return, Chicago started from its 11 with 2:13 left. The Bears ran twice for 6 yards. On third-and-4 from the 17, Okwara sacked Trubisky and forced a fumble that rookie tackle John Penisini recovered at the 7.
“I honestly don’t remember what I did,” Okwara said. “I just remember the ball was there and I reached for it. I don’t know if I jumped. I’ll have to watch the film. I saw the ball in front of me and I tried to knock it out of there.”
Two plays later, Peterson scored the winner.
“I mean huge play,” Bevell said of Okwara’s strip-sack. “Huge play for us. We preached it during the week and to get that big play right there in that moment, I mean it changed the whole momentum of the game.
“And just a cool play. I didn’t see exactly everything that happened, but I know that he’s the guy that got the ball out. And just so happy for him, the defense and the way they responded in the second half.”
The Bears still had one more chance when they started from their 25 with 1:37 left. The pivotal play came on third-and-5 at the Detroit 24 with 16 seconds left. Allen Robinson caught a short pass in the right flat but he lost track of the first-down marker. He didn’t notice cornerback Amani Oruwariye had slipped, so he rushed to the sideline and ran out of bounds with 11 seconds left.
“Then, thank God,” Ragland said, “I guess it was Allen Robinson, he was short on the play.”
It gave the Lions enough life to make one more play, and they did.
“That’s one thing about this league, man, you got to keep playing,” Ragland said. “It’s not over until everything’s at zero on the scoreboard. Even though we had a bad day all day, man, we still went out there and fought, got the win.
“We seen what we can regroup like. In this league it’s hard to get wins, no matter who you are playing. We got a good win as a team and as a defense, we finished at the end. All we got to do is just go back to the drawing board and keep getting better.”
Contact Carlos Monarrez at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.