| The Detroit News
Chicago — The infectious enthusiasm Darrell Bevell displayed throughout his first week as the Detroit Lions interim coach, hit a fevered pitch on Sunday when the team pulled off an improbable 10-point rally in the closing minutes against the Chicago Bears.
Shortly after celebrating with the team in the locker room, Bevell met virtually with the media and struggled to find the words to capture the culmination of his crazy week.
“My emotions right now, I can’t even think straight,” Bevell said. “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. My mentality was that. If I’m going to lead these guys, I got to have that same belief. I believe in these guys. I believe in what we’re trying to do. It goes to them. Those guys believed in themselves as well, and I think it showed with how they reacted in those situations and how they played today.”
From the moment he’s taken over, replacing Matt Patricia last weekend, Bevell has put an emphasis on playing loose and having fun. And while that attitude didn’t immediately translate as the Lions labored through their standard fare of self-inflicted errors, they didn’t topple like a house of cards in the face of failure this go-round, like they’ve done so many times in recent history.
If nothing else, the game’s frantic and jubilant ending was a reflection of the attitude Bevell tried to instill on the fly this week.
“I’m obviously really happy for him, happy for our team,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “He cares about our guys. He’s only been on the offensive side of the ball for the majority of his time here — obviously only one week here with everybody — but I think his energy is infectious and guys feed off of it. I really appreciate him as a person and just happy that he helped us get the win today.
“Guys went out there and played fast and free and it wasn’t perfect,” Stafford continued. “There are plays we want back, but never quit, never really looked at the scoreboard, just kept playing and let it all kinda all figure itself out and it did.”
The Lions labored through the first half against Chicago falling behind, 23-13, while struggling to get a stop on defense and finish drives on offense. Bevell said he tried to get the group to refocus during the break.
“I addressed the whole team when we called them up before we went out,” he said. “I just told them to continue to keep playing, don’t measure the game, play until there’s no time left on the clock and continue to play with the joy and enthusiasm that we wanted to play with, and we’ll see what happens at the end. I think they really did exactly that and good things happened.”
Bevell said the locker room was buzzing after the victory, which was capped by Stafford presenting the coach with a game ball.
“Just excited to get a win and thought it was fitting he needs to get that game ball,” Stafford said. “You know, it’s his first game as a head coach and to get a win is huge.”
Climbing the charts
Stafford continues to rack up the statistical accomplishments during his 12-year career with the Lions.
This victory marked his 31st fourth-quarter comeback, the most of any quarterback since he entered the league. He’s now tied with Hall of Famer John Elway for the seventh-most in league history.
Stafford also became the seventh quarterback in NFL history with at least 10 400-yard passing performances. His 402 yards against the Bears was the first time he accomplished the feat this year, and with three touchdowns, he moved into 16th place on the all-time list, passing Vinny Testaverde.
Up next on the list, Johnny Unitas.
Even with the victory, the Lions remain a long shot to make the postseason, but that didn’t stop linebacker Reggie Ragland from breathing some life into the conversation.
“I’m just excited for this team to go out there and get this win after being down 10,” Ragland said. “Being down 10, again, it showed the type of heart we got as a whole, man. I’m excited. Like, winning games like that? It’s fun and it’s worth it. If we can keep winning, keep ourselves in a position like that, man, like we can get a chance to make the playoffs.”
Surprisingly, the Lions are only a game back of the final seed in the NFC after the Arizona Cardinals fell to the Los Angles Rams on Sunday. Still, the Lions are in a group of four other teams within a game of that spot and have a gauntlet of tough opponents down the stretch, starting with a home game against Green Bay next week.
If they beat the Packers, who steamrolled them in Week 2, 42-21, maybe we can entertain the talk.