Detroit Lions survive big day by Bears QB, get win for a pair of Dan Campbell milestones

Detroit Free Press

CHICAGO — Tick, tick, tick.

The clock in Julian Okwara’s head was ticking faster and faster as Justin Fields spun out of one tackle, then another, and looked for a moment like he might take off running downfield.

The Detroit Lions had rallied from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to take a one-point lead against the Chicago Bears with what Dan Campbell called “the drive of our life,” and needed one last stop against the quarterback who had killed them with his legs all day.

Okwara came off the right edge and bull-rushed Bears tight end Ryan Griffin, then turned a corner to try and tackle Fields as he slipped out of Alex Anzalone’s grasp.

Okwara grabbed Fields by the waist, only to see the second-year Bears quarterback squirm free again.

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Anzalone let Fields slip through his arms a second time, and as Fields set his feet and scanned the field for an open receiver, Okwara sprung from the ground and bear-hugged Fields with all his might.

“I tried not to throw him to the ground because he’s very elusive and he’ll get out of those tackles easily,” Okwara said. “The whole game he’s very hard to tackle. We just had to bring him down and stay on him really, just bottle him up.”

Fields ran for 147 yards and two touchdowns, his second straight game with more than 100 yards rushing. But the Lions bottled up the NFL’s best rushing quarterback when they needed to most, beating the Bears, 31-30, for their second straight win.

The victory is the Lions’ first road win under Dan Campbell and gives the Lions back-to-back victories for the first time since early in the 2020 season.

At 3-6, they own first-round pick is no longer in line to be in the top 10 in next year’s draft and do not have a share of last place in the NFC North for the first time since November 2020.

“I’m very proud because that’s two weeks in a row now that our defense has come up huge,” Campbell said. “Look, man, that is, that’s a tough offense to play. That quarterback now is, it’s everything we talked about and it just, man, you can play perfect and play the game you want to play and if you just let him out four plays, it will kill you. It could be four touchdowns.

“So at the end of the day, we bottled him up enough and forced him to have to stay in there and make some plays that’s hard for him to do. He wants to get out of there and start moving around and break contain, eyes downfield. So we did what we needed to do and guys showed up. They stayed true to it. Even though we got hurt on a couple of plays, they stayed true to it.”

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Fields hurt the Lions with both his arm and feet Sunday.

He beat Okwara around the edge for a 28-yard gain on the game’s first offensive play, scored on a 1-yard run with 12 seconds left in the first half to tie the game at 10 and threw two touchdown passes in the third quarter to give the Bears (3-7) a 24-10 lead.

The Lions, with the help of three Bears penalties, cut their deficit to seven points early in the fourth quarter on D’Andre Swift’s 9-yard touchdown run, and Jeff Okudah returned a poorly-thrown Fields interception 20 yards for a touchdown three plays later to tie the game at 24.

“Just a dumb play,” Fields said. “I can assure you that will never happen again for the rest of my career. Just screen, being sifted out, tried to move him a little bit and tried to float it over to Cole and just overthrew it. Just got to dirt it and play the next play.”

Fields put the Bears back in front with a 67-yard touchdown run on a read-option keeper with 9:11 to play, but Cairo Santos missed the extra point setting the stage for the Lions’ late-game heroics.

With the ball on their own 9-yard line and 5:23 on the clock, Jared Goff led an eight-play scoring drive. He completed a 44-yard pass to Tom Kennedy on third-and-9, and after Amon-Ra St. Brown took a shovel pass to the 1-yard line on the next play, Jamaal Williams barreled into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.

“It’s one thing to believe you can do it, it’s another thing to do it and finish a game like that,” Goff said. “You talk about it so much. You talk about doing it and you can only go so far until you actually do it. Now having that belief, having done it, having that carry us into the next few weeks will be huge for those guys.”

Goff finished 19 of 26 passing for 236 yards with one touchdown pass to Brock Wright and one interception negated by penalty, and St. Brown had a game-high 10 catches for 119 yards for a Lions team whose last road win came Dec. 6, 2020, against the Bears in Darrell Bevell’s first game as interim head coach.

Fields was 12 of 20 passing for 167 yards. He carried 13 times to set a modern NFL record for most rushing yards by a quarterback (555) in a five-game span, and the Bears finished with 258 yards rushing as a team.

“We’ve gotten back in a lot of games, but we haven’t been able to finish ‘em out,” Campbell said. “We got ourself back in this game and won it. That more than anything else means everything to me, to this team. That’s above on the road and all, man, the fact that we did, we battled our way back and they just stayed true to what they’re being coached to do and we made the plays that we had to, to win the game.”

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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