Justin Fields ran all over the Detroit Lions in the first quarter.
But then, the Lions finally contained him.
A game with the potential for a shootout turned lopsided early in the second half. The Lions, from the second quarter on, shut down Fields and dominated the Bears in all facets Sunday, winning 41-10 in the finale at Ford Field and keeping their playoff hopes alive.
“The only downside about today is the fact that this is our last home game,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “But as far as where we’re at right now, it doesn’t get any better than this.”
To make the playoffs, the Lions (8-8) — winners in seven of their past nine games — need to beat the Green Bay Packers in next week’s showdown at Lambeau Field. They also need one loss from the Seattle Seahawks.
“It means everything,” Campbell said. “It’s just so special. It’s as good as it can get. I mean, seriously, you get to go to historic Lambeau, where the top (team) in this division has been Green Bay every year for years, and earn your right to potentially get in.”
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Fields, who thrashed the Lions’ defense in Week 10, ran for 105 yards in the first quarter. At the time, the dynamic quarterback was on pace for a whopping 420 rushing yards. He looked completely in control of the tempo.
But Fields finished with 10 carries for 132 yards on the ground. His arm, the weak link of his skills, failed to help him adjust. He completed 7 of 21 passes for 75 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
The Lions sacked him seven times.
“That was the key to this game,” Campbell said. “We got hurt early, and that was self-induced. It happened to us a couple times, and we let (Fields) out of (the pocket). But our athleticism in some areas showed up when it needed to. … All in all, I thought we snapped back on defense. We were much more physical.”
Linebacker James Houston, proving himself as a premium edge rusher, carried the defense with three sacks, one forced fumble and three quarterback hits. Defensive end Josh Paschal added two sacks and two quarterback hits. Defensive end Aidan Hutchinson recorded a half-sack, one fumble recovery and one interception.
Hutchinson became the first rookie defensive linemen in NFL history with three interceptions in a season. (The last lineman to do so was Hall of Famer Richard Dent in 1990.)
“I think that’s special,” Houston said of the rookies on defense. “Just having all of us on that line, and we’re just growing. We’re learning and finding out what we can do and can’t do with each other. As the years go on, I feel like it’s going to keep getting better and better.”
Fields entered the blue medical tent twice in the first half, including once to get checked for a brain injury, as the Lions pressured him relentlessly in the second quarter. (He has been dealing with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder recently.)
A pair of big runs from Fields on Chicago’s first two drives led to points. He scampered for 31 yards on the first drive, which ended in a 12-yard passing touchdown to tight end Cole Kmet, then escaped the pocket and scrambled for 60 yards on the second drive, which resulted in a 23-yard field goal from Cairo. Santos.
Between those drives, Lions quarterback Jared Goff benefitted from a defensive pass interference on fourth-and-4. The flag, charged to Bears cornerback Kyler Gordon in the end zone, put the Lions at the 1-yard line, and two plays later, tight end Brock Wright caught a 2-yard pass for a touchdown.
“If it’s third down, I wouldn’t have done that,” Goff said, when asked about his decision to throw into double-coverage on fourth down. “Everyone was covered underneath, and I saw (DJ Chark) deep. Hopefully, it was pass interference. If it’s intercepted in the end zone, so be it.”
The Lions trailed, 10-7, after the first quarter but rolled the Bears in the final three quarters, finishing with more than 500 yards of total offense.
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Detroit’s offense scored 31 straight points — for a 38-10 advantage entering the fourth quarter — on touchdowns from Wright (again), running back D’Andre Swift (twice) and running back Jamaal Williams, plus a 23-yard field goal from Michael Badgley before halftime.
Swift, in particular, looked electric for the first time in a long time. He ran 11 times for 78 yards and one touchdown. Williams, though, handled the bulk of the workload, taking 22 touches for 144 yards and one touchdown.
“I think that’s our success right there,” Williams said, “just having so many weapons on the field. It makes the defense more cautious about what’s happening and makes it unpredictable. Today, Swift went crazy. I’m proud of him because of the way he works, and he deserves all the chances he gets.”
Rookie wide receiver Jameson Williams added 40 rushing yards on a reverse play to set up Jamaal Williams’ touchdown for a 31-10 lead with 11:48 left in the third quarter. On the next drive, Goff and Swift linked up for a catch-and-run 21-yard touchdown to make it 38-10 with 6:44 to go in the third.
“He’s really dynamic, and we’ve got a handful of those guys now,” Goff said of Swift’s breakthrough performance. “You put the ball in their hands, and anything can happen. As a quarterback, it’s pretty fun, and certainly as an offense, it helps us.”
Goff, who hasn’t thrown an interception in eight games, managed the offense to perfection and took care of the ball. He completed 21 of 29 passes for 255 yards and three touchdowns.
The offensive line allowed two sacks.
“He’s playing at a very high level,” Campbell said. “He has a ton of confidence right now, and he’s had this for a while. He has a really good feel of the game plan, and it’s like he’s in this mode right now where you feel like anytime you dial up a pass he’s going to find somebody. That’s a great feeling.”
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Detroit’s defense, though, deserves credit for shifting the momentum. On the Bears’ second drive of the second quarter, Paschal sacked Fields for a loss of 12 yards. After a 16-yard completion, Houston sacked Fields for a loss of 8 yards to force a three-and-out punt.
The Bears’ offense never picked up again. On the next drive, Houston tackled Fields from behind on the third play and forced a fumble. Hutchinson, who recovered the fumble, intercepted Fields to end the first half.
After taking a 38-10 lead, the Lions’ offense managed the clock in the fourth quarter while the defense held strong. Badgley added a 41-yard field goal with 2:40 left in the game.
“Not every team – players, young guys – get the opportunity to play in games like this,” Goff said. “I mean, there were a bunch of guys here who, for the first half of their career, haven’t had the chance to play a game in January that means something. And we’re going to get that chance next week.”
Contact Evan Petzold at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter@EvanPetzold.