Lions-Bears: What we learned
DETROIT -- The Chicago Bears pride themselves on creating turnovers. That strategy was used against them on Sunday and now they've got company atop the NFC North.
The Detroit Lions harassed Bears quarterback Jay Cutler into four turnovers, three on interceptions, and handed Chicago its first loss 40-32 at Ford Field.
Turnovers carried the Bears to a 3-0 start, as they forced a league-high 11 while making only five. But the Lions (3-1) were more opportunistic while tying their longtime division rival in the standings. Defensive tackle Nick Fairley scored on a 4-yard fumble return and safety Louis Delmas had two interceptions.
"We need to go out and play well, play tough and physical and make our plays. Our guys have proven this year they can do that," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. "It was a big problem for us last year. We didn't get very many turnovers on defense but we've got some playmakers up front who can rush and some guys on the back end that can go get it."
The offense was just as formidable. Reggie Bush rushed for 139 yards, including 112 in the opening half, and scored on a 37-yard run. Matt Stafford passed for 242 yards and a touchdown and also scored by recovering his own fumble.
Calvin Johnson had a relatively quiet 28th birthday, catching four passes for 44 yards, but one of them went for a 2-yard score.
"It's great to have a lot of weapons at your disposal," Stafford said. "Our offensive line is playing great and opening holes in the running game and the more they can do that, the better we'll be. And Calvin is always going to be Calvin -- he's going to make plays when we need him."
Matt Forte rushed for 95 yards, including a 53-yard touchdown in the second quarter, but Chicago had to abandon the running game after trailing by 20 in the first half.
"The game got out of hand because of the turnovers," Bears coach Marc Trestman said. "We had to throw it more than we'd like."
What the Bears said
"I watched the demeanor of our football team from the sideline during the last three minutes of the game and I thought it was excellent. Guys were fighting, guys were into it, they were focused, the sense of urgency was there. That's a good sign. We're going to be in other games like this and that kind of backbone is going to help us down the road." -- Coach Marc Trestman.
What the Lions said
"It means more because it was a home game for us. We set a goal at the beginning of the season to not lose a game at home and so far, we're 2-0." -- Quarterback Matthew Stafford
What we learned about the Bears
1. The offense revolves around running back Matt Forte.
He had a 53-yard scoring run in the first half but when quarterback Jay Cutler started turning the ball over, the Bears were in trouble. They had to abandon the running game before halftime, as Forte had only 14 attempts, and Chicago trailed by 24 until a late rally made the score closer than the game played out. Their third-down efficiency was atrocious (1 for 13).
2. When the defense doesn't force turnovers, it is vulnerable.
The Bears' defense managed three turnovers, lifting their league-best total to 14 over four games. But the Lions still amassed 387 total yards and their running game was particularly sharp. The season-ending loss of defensive tackle Harry Melton (knee) last week was felt quickly, as Reggie Bush gashed the Bears for six plays of 10 yards or better in the first half.
What we learned about the Lions
1. The loss of wide receiver Nate Burleson, who broke his arm in a car accident earlier in the week, wasn't as significant as first feared.
Though Burleson had a team-high 19 receptions through the first three games, the Lions passing attack was bolstered by the reemergence of tight end Brandon Pettigrew. After catching just five passes before Sunday, Pettigrew snared seven against the Bears. Young wide receiver Kris Durham also pitched in with three receptions.
2. The defense can make big plays when safety Louis Delmas is healthy.
The oft-injured Delmas was a major factor against the Bears, picking off two passes. His playmaking ability makes the Detroit pass rush even scarier, and it created a touchdown when Ndamukong Suh recorded a sack-fumble against Jay Cutler and defensive tackle Nick Fairley scooped up the ball for a 4-yard score.