Free Press columnist Carlos Monarrez tackles the tough questions after the Detroit Lions‘ 31-30 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday at Soldier Field:
What did this win mean?
What it means is that, right now — as you’re reading this — the echoes of the Lions euphorically screaming at the tops of their lungs are still ringing off the walls in the visitor’s locker room at Soldier Field. Because this 31-30 win over the Chicago Bears means the Lions have learned to do one of the most important things for a rebuilding NFL team: Beat the teams you’re supposed to beat. Dan Campbell knows this. That’s why last week he lamented not beating the Vikings and the Dolphins. Instead of being 3-6, the Lions should be 5-4. But even at 3-6, they’ve taken a huge step, climbed out of the division dungeon with wins over the inferior Packers and Bears and secured their first road win and their first winning streak of Campbell’s 26-game tenure.
SHAWN WINDSOR:Lions to Bears: Karma is with us now; it’s about damn time.
THE GAME:Lions rally past Bears, 31-30, for Dan Campbell’s first road win
Who impressed you the most?
Three players stood out: cornerback Jeff Okudah, defensive end Aidan Hutchinson and receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown. But I’ll go with St. Brown because he had his best game of the season — even without a touchdown catch — when the Lions needed it the most, because they were hurting for receivers. Okudah and Hutchinson had great games, but the Lions wouldn’t have won without St. Brown, who is a crucially versatile piece in Ben Johnson’s offense. Five of the Lions’ 10 longest plays involved St. Brown, who is Jared Goff’s only dependable option in the receiving corps. the second-year wideout had a career-high 119 receiving yards on 10 catches, but he’s contributing so much more. With no T.J. Hockenson to worry about, the Bears’ defense paid extra attention to St. Brown, who helped the entire offense operate more effectively.
What did you think about the defense?
The Lions continue to struggle against mobile quarterbacks. Wait, doesn’t everyone? It didn’t start great after Justin Fields burned the Lions for 28 yards with a keeper on the Bears’ first play. He followed with a magical escape run at the goal line late in the second half that would have made Houdini proud and a 67-yard touchdown run that should make every Lion on the field embarrassed. Considering the caliber of quarterback the Lions faced, it was probably the defense’s best game this season. The Lions were disciplined while getting called for just one penalty on defense. Okudah was solid all game and had a monster pick-six. And Hutchinson keeps taking double-teams and making big plays, including another sack — that’s 5½ this season — while finishing with eight tackles.
Contact Carlos Monarrez: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.