Detroit Lions' Stout Defense Still Has Room to Improve

By Luis Vilanova
Nick Fairley
Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Another Detroit Lions victory in dramatic fashion has made them the sole leaders in the NFC North division as they beat the Chicago Bears 21-19. What appeared to be a win was about to become another Lion nightmare during the last seconds of regulation time in a beautifully executed drive by backup quarterback Josh McCown that gave Chicago an opportunity to tie the game twice. The Bears attempted the two point conversion, but as they failed the attempt defensive tackle Willie Young drew a penalty for a late hit on McCown and the Bears had a second lifeline. On the second attempt, they called on star running back Matt Forte to break through the goal line, but Nick Fairley had bulldozed his way through the offensive line and brought down Forte for no gain. To everyone’s surprise, it was the Lions’ defense that had won the game at Soldier Field this time.

The Lions’ defense had their biggest game of the year. Even though they had complications stopping the Bears’ passing attack allowing Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery to each have 100 yard receiving games, Forte was limited to just 38 yards rushing. Ndamukong Suh had a monster performance as he hurried Jay Cutler all day, sacked him, and tipped a pass in the red zone for a DeAndre Levy interception in the end zone. The Lions’ defensive player of the game was Fairley without a doubt as he delivered the game-winning stop on Forte. Just after the Bears attempted to complete a passing play during their first two point conversion attempt, he read the second attempt perfectly and simply rushed past the center to grab Forte on a no gain play and then celebrated down field.

It was another fruitful day for the Lions’ entire offense at Soldier Field, and this is why Matthew Stafford and company are now division leaders. Dominic Raiola and the rest of the offensive line did not allow a sack and opened up the running game impressively. Calvin Johnson had another career day as he caught two touchdown passes to break Herman Moore‘s franchise touchdown record of 62; he was simply faultless in the end zone. Stafford only passed for 219 yards but was overly essential throwing touchdown passes connecting with Megatron twice and Kris Durham on a short five-yard route. The Reggie Bush and Joique Bell tandem was lethal as their smoothness and power combined for 146 yards allowing Stafford to make the big plays in the red zone.
After the game against the Bears I have to criticize the Lions on two things if they are to make a serious NFC run. First, put away weaker teams early and create less drama. The following weeks they are going to face the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Green Bay Packers without their star quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Detroit is expected to win all of those games as they will have home-field advantage on two out of the three. Finally, the defense needs to play more consistent. The defensive unit is still not coming together. I’ve pointed out some areas of strength earlier in my article, but the secondary keeps getting burned on every other pass play.

Luis Vilanova is a Detroit Lions writer for Follow him/her on Twitter, “Like” him/her on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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