Nov 28, 2014 3:29 AM
Lions begin crucial homestand with win over Bears
The Associated Press
DETROIT (AP) The Detroit Lions began the homestand that could make or break their season with the type of offensive performance their fans have been waiting for.
Matthew Stafford threw for 390 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Calvin Johnson, and the Lions beat the Chicago Bears 34-17 on Thursday. Johnson had 11 catches for 146 yards in perhaps his best performance of the season.
Detroit gained a season-high 474 yards in its highest-scoring game since a 35-point showing in the season opener against the New York Giants.
"We came home and handled business. That's what we wanted," center Dominic Raiola said. "We're in a good spot right now but we know there's a lot of work ahead."
After losing at Arizona and New England and falling out of first place in the NFC North, the Lions (8-4) began a three-game stretch at home against teams with losing records. They spotted Chicago a 14-3 first-quarter lead before scoring three consecutive touchdowns in the second.
Chicago (5-7) looked sharp early on, but with no running game to speak of against Detroit's defensive front, the Bears quickly gave away their early lead.
"We just didn't do enough and it starts with me," coach Marc Trestman said. "I'm looking inside and am accepting accountability for this loss, obviously. We just couldn't get it done today and didn't have enough ammunition to stop them or continue drives."
The Lions have won back-to-back games on Thanksgiving after losing their previous nine. They beat Green Bay 40-10 last year.
A lot was expected of Stafford this season, especially after the arrival of coach Jim Caldwell, who took over in January. The 26-year-old quarterback has put up fairly ordinary numbers in 2014, but he was very good Thursday.
"Hopefully, this game gives us some confidence and gives us a little bit of momentum," Stafford said. "We played fast today, guys were in and out of the huddle ... dictate to the defense what the pace of the game was going to be. That's all great, but if you don't execute it doesn't work."
Here are a few things we learned from Detroit's impressive win:
MEGATRON'S MARK: Johnson surpassed 10,000 yards receiving in his 115th game, becoming the fastest to reach that mark. More importantly, his big game quieted some concerns that he was slowing down. Johnson missed a month with an ankle injury earlier this season and was held under 60 yards in back-to-back games before Thursday's breakthrough.
STOPPING THE RUN: Chicago barely even tried to establish Matt Forte on the ground. The star running back finished with 6 yards on five carries, and the Bears only managed 13 yards rushing as a team.
PASS RUSH: The Lions' offensive line has been a weak spot at times this year, and the Bears took advantage of that early when Jared Allen sacked Stafford, forced a fumble and recovered it at the Detroit 5. That set up the touchdown that put Chicago ahead 14-3.
SHORT YARDAGE: Joique Bell scored on a pair of 1-yard runs for Detroit, including one on fourth down in the second quarter that gave the Lions a 17-14 lead. Bell leaped high in the air and extended the ball, just barely reaching the goal line.
Bell finished with 91 yards on 23 carries and was the only Detroit player with any rushing attempts. Reggie Bush sat out a third straight game with an ankle injury.
"We stuck to it," Bell said. "That's the run game, that's the NFL for you. We keep pounding and pounding and eventually something is going to open up, and we were able to make some big runs toward the end."
BROTHERS: It was an interesting Thanksgiving in the Fuller family. Detroit receiver Corey Fuller was facing his brother, Chicago defensive back Kyle Fuller.
Corey Fuller caught one pass for 21 yards, and after the play, Kyle Fuller came over and playfully knocked the ball out of his hands.
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