Detroit Lions pull off improbable win over Chicago in Darrell Bevell’s debut

Adrian Peterson crossed the goal line after an improbable comeback and his offensive line sprinted toward him, bouncing around, hugging, celebrating. It felt like a season’s worth — three seasons’ worth — of frustrations released.

Matt Patricia was fired after Thanksgiving, promoting Darrell Bevell to interim head coach. And yet, for most of Sunday, the Detroit Lions looked like, well, the Lions. Critical mistakes on offense. Unable to stop anyone on defense. Then, in a situation where far too often under Patricia the Lions’ would make a mistake or fail leading to a loss, they instead showed life. Showed happiness.

Romeo Okwara forced a fumble. Peterson scored. And all of a sudden the Lions took a loss and turned it into a win, 34-30 over Chicago on Sunday at Soldier Field.

All week Bevell preached a new energy, a new attitude and wanting his players to have as much fun as possible. By the end Sunday, it looked like it – giving Bevell more wins against the Bears (one) than his predecessor, Patricia (zero).

Make no mistake. The Lions are still not a good team. Still are a team with a lot of holes and many, many problems.

But the passion Bevell wanted, the excitement he implored Detroit to have showed up again for the first time in a long time. And that they sealed it on a stopping a David Montgomery run

— where the Bears needed a yard and the Lions wouldn’t give it to them — signified everything Bevell wanted them to be.

Mike Ford congratulated Bevell on the sideline. So did other coaches and players. It was unlikely. It was unexpected. And for Detroit, it was a start.

Promising trend: For as bad as Detroit’s defense was for most of Sunday — and the Lions defense continued to be quite bad — defensive end Romeo Okwara once again stood out positively. He forced pressure on Mitchell Trubisky a couple of times and had a strip-sack to give Detroit a chance to win with 1:54 left. He also blocked a Chicago extra point, a bright spot this season on an otherwise rough Lions defense. Okwara is a free agent after the season and Detroit will likely have to pay a good amount of money to keep him.

Biggest hole in the game plan: It wasn’t so much a hole as much as a years-long issue unable to be solved even with Detroit changing its head coach. Detroit’s run defense (and defense in general) continued to be unable to do much productive. The Lions allowed Chicago to gain 140 yards rushing and Trubisky to play well against Detroit again, completing 76.5 percent of his passes for 267 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.

QB Breakdown: Stafford was more aggressive, which was good, and for a large majority of the game looked more like the top-end quarterback he appeared to be last season. He did throw a fourth-quarter interception to a defensive lineman on a critical drive where Detroit was trying to rally from a 10-point hole. But the Lions — thanks to an efficient fourth-quarter drive and a big defensive stop — rallied anyway. Stafford had his 10th 400-yard game of his career and first since Nov. 3, 2019 against Oakland, the game in which he injured his back, ending his 2019 season. Stafford was 27-of-42 passes for 402 yards, three touchdowns and an interception — also moving into 16th place all-time in touchdowns with 277, passing Vinny Testaverde (275).

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