Lions overcome sloppy play to beat Bears

The Detroit Lions (11-4) overcame another sloppy game to defeat the Chicago Bears (5-10) 20-14 at Soldier Field. Our takeaways:

  1. The Lions won, but it was a sloppy, folly-filled game for the playoff-bound team. If Jim Caldwell's squad repeats that performance in the postseason, Detroit will get mauled. Matthew Stafford threw two terrible picksin the red zone. A muffed punt and a roughing the kicker led to both of the Bears' touchdowns. Add in a field-goal block when Matt Prater chunked it like an amature golfer from the spongy rough and it was a comedy of errors.
  1. After two three-and-outs to start the game, Jimmy Clausen looked very comfortable in Marc Trestman's offense, throwing his first twotouchdown passes since January 2011. Not blessed with an explosive arm, Clausen was accurate on short and intermediate throws. The 27-year-old signal caller finished 23-of-39 passing for 181 yards. Bears wideouts killed Clausen with seven drops. Clausen did a good job reading the defense and making pre-snap adjustments, getting the Bears into advantageous plays. He's not the long-term answer, but ...
  1. If Trestman's goal in benching Jay Cutler was to prove to management that his offense could move the ball with good quarterback play, he might have done that. Trestman still might not survive the guillotine, but the offense moved the ball more fluidly when it mattered -- not just garbage time. Protections were adjusted more regularly, and Clausen took the easy open passes. The quarterback went through his progressions very well, which is a sign of good coaching.
  1. The Lions' defense struggled to get pressure early on Clausen, which was surprising with Kyle Long out. They had zero sacks in the first half. Ndamukong Suh took over in the second half (two sacks, two tackles for loss). That man will be paaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiddddddd.
  1. Reggie Bush finally showed flashes of his 2013 self. He had burst in the running game (seven rushes for 54 yards and a score) and was targeted often in the passing game. The Lions' offense is much more explosive when Bush looks good. Add in Joique Bell (who was benched in the first quarter for violating a team rule, per Caldwell) churning up yards in the fourth quarter, and Detroit finally has a healthy, solid one-two punch heading to the postseason. With Stafford struggling, the Lions needed the running game to emerge.
  1. Calvin Johnson went over 1,000 yards for his fifth straight season, a team record.
  1. The Lions will face the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in Week 17 with the NFC North title on the line.

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