After scoring a touchdown on their opening drive in the first half, the Detroit Lions failed to score another point in the first half.
The Lions did the same thing to begin the second half of play against the Chicago Bears. After a 39-yard run by Lions running back Reggie Bush set the Lions up with a first and goal situation, quarterback Matthew Stafford connected with wide receiver Calvin Johnson two plays later on 4-yard pass for a touchdown.
As the Bears offense proceeded to take the field, television cameras flashed over to the Bears sideline. What was shown was both Bears quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Josh McCown warming up. Furthermore, it was clear that Cutler was dealing with some pain. The Bears quarterback was walking gingerly and moving with caution. During the series, Cutler was not stepping into any of his throws as it appeared that the quarterback was trying to avoid putting pressure on his groin. The Bears offense failed to do anything on the drive.
The question going forward for the Bears would be if the risk of Cutler suffering a serious injury while playing hurt was greater than the need for the Bears to defeat the Lions?
Apparently the risk of suffering a serious injury was not that great as Cutler proceeded to take the field with the Bears offense after the Bears defense forced a three-and-out by the Lions. Despite taking several hits from the Lions defensive linemen, Cutler appeared to be back on track. During the series, Cutler connected on a 44-yard pass with wide receiver Brandon Marshall. After a miscue on first down, Cutler connected on a 18-yard pass to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. The Bears offense stalled in the red-zone resulting in a field goal by Robbie Gould.
The Bears defense forced another three and out, and Cutler once again took the field with the Bears offense. During the series for the Bears offense, Cutler continued to show signs of re-aggravating his groin injury that he suffered against the Washington Redskins. The Bears offense stalled on the drive.
At some point, the decision would need to be made by Bears head coach Marc Trestman about whether or not to take Cutler out of the game. Cutler, as any player would, wouldn’t be willing to take himself out of the game. However, not only would Trestman have to consider the Bears chances to win the game with an injured Cutler or healthy McCown, but Trestman would need to consider the best option for the Bears going forward. What good would a win against the Lions be if Cutler suffered a serious injury as a result of not being taken out of the game.
Nonetheless, Cutler remained in the game as the Bears offense received possession of the ball to begin the fourth quarter. The Bears offense stalled once again as questions began to rise about the play-call from Trestman. With Cutler showing obvious signs of being hurt, it appeared that Trestman altered the game-plan for the Bears offense. The altered game-plan wasn’t successful as Bears running back Matt Forte continued to struggle on the ground.
The Bears defense continued to excel as Bears safety Chris Conte picked off Stafford on a third down play for the Lions offense. Conte proceeded to take the ball to the Lions 8-yard line.
On offense, a holding penalty on left guard Matt Slauson pushed the Bears back 10 yards. Two plays later, Cutler connected on a 14-yard pass to Alshon Jeffery that would have been a touchdown. The touchdown was taken off the board as replays showed that Jeffery did not have full possession of the ball. The Bears were forced to take another field goal.
The Lions missed an opportunity on their next possession as a facemask penalty on tight end Joseph Fauria knocked the Lions offense out of a first and goal situation. The miscues did not stop there for the Lions offense as David Akers missed a 45-yard field goal.
The Bears offense was unable to take advantage of miscue as the Lions defense forced a three-and-out. Stafford proceeded to connect with Johnson on a 14-yard touchdown pass for the Lions offense.
Bear backup quarterback Josh McCown entered the game for the Bears with the team trailing 21-13 late in the fourth quarter. The Bears announced that Cutler’s return to the game was questionable due to an ankle injury. McCown proceeded to find some success as he had the Bears offense driving into Lions territory. McCown managed to connect with Marshall on a 11-yard pass for a touchdown. The first two point conversion of the Bears was negated with personal foul penalty on the Lions defense. The second attempt was snuffed out by the Lions defense as the Bears attempted a running play from the shotgun formation thus sealing the Lions 21-19 victory.
The play-calling of Trestman’s should certainly be questioned, but the largest question of all is why wasn’t McCown in the game sooner?
It would be difficult to nitpick about where things went wrong for the Bears in their game against the Lions. The Bears defense gave the offense every opportunity possible to take control of the game. The problem is that Cutler clearly was not at 100 percent. Had Cutler been 100 percent–like he was at the start of the game–it’s likely that this game would have had a different outcome.
The Bears play the Baltimore Ravens at home next Sunday.