With the calendar turning to 2023, the Detroit Lions looked to start the new year off with a bang.
Welcoming in the Chicago Bears, which came to town on an eight-game losing streak, provided supporters and the Lions’ young roster additional confidence that the team could even its record after 60 minutes of action.
Detroit sent home the capacity crowd in a great mood, as the offense moved the football well and the defense forced multiple turnovers.
Here are five takeaways from the Lions’ 41-10 victory against the Bears in Detroit’s 2022 home finale.
Lions’ defense struggles early to contain Justin Fields
This week at practice, the Lions worked to get the nasty taste out of their mouths, following a subpar defensive performance against the Panthers.
“We’re going to move forward, because that’s the one thing that we’ve been pretty good at is playing run defense, dating back to the Giants game,” Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said this week. “So, this was very uncharacteristic of our players to have a game like this, and I don’t expect a game like this to ever happen again.”
After the Lions won the opening coin toss and deferred, the Bears’ offense marched down the field on a nine-play, 75-yard drive that took 4:00 off the game clock.
Justin Fields, who secured 44 yards rushing on the opening drive, capped off the series with a 13-yard touchdown pass to tight end Cole Kmet.
On the Bears’ next offensive possession, Fields again got loose, this time for a 59-yard gain that went down to the Lions’ 9-yard line.
This time, though, the Lions’ defense held the Bears to a field goal.
Lions’ Jared Goff trusts his tight ends
Goff led Detroit’s offense right down the field in his first opportunity at Ford Field Sunday.
Lions head coach Dan Campbell decided again to be aggressive, as the team remained on the field on fourth down. With his receivers covered, the veteran signal-caller heaved a pass into the end zone.
Luckily, the Bears were called for pass interference on Lions wideout DJ Chark.
Brock Wright capped off the drive with a touchdown reception that tied the game, 7-7. The touchdown grab was the 11th by a Lions tight end this season, which matched a team record.
Later in the second quarter, Goff found Wright again — which broke the team record — to extend Detroit’s lead to 21-10.
Goff has now produced his third career 4,000-yard season, becoming the fourth player in team history to reach that mark. Also, the veteran has thrown for at least one touchdown in 13 straight home games.
Connection with Jameson Williams is simply not there
For whatever reason, Goff and the No. 12 overall pick have not been able to get on the same page.
It had been discussed that the connection would take more time to get going, but the struggles have taken longer than most would have expected.
On a couple of occasions, Goff targeted Williams, but the ball was either thrown behind him or tipped before the play ever had a chance to develop.
It appears that extensive work must take place in the offseason before Williams can become more productive in the offense.
The Alabama product did send the Ford Field crowd into a frenzy early in the second half, though.
With the lack of chemistry between Goff and Williams evident, Williams was given the ball on a reverse, and he turned on the jets. It resulted in a 40-yard run for the rookie speedster.
James Houston wrecks Bears’ plans
In his first six NFL games, the rookie EDGE has recorded eight sacks.
On Sunday against the Bears, the 2022 sixth-round pick established his presence in the first half — first by sacking Fields and then by forcing a fumble that was eventually recovered by the defense.
Leading 21-10, Houston caught up to the speedy quarterback from behind, and stripped the football out of his hands.
The ball was recovered by Aidan Hutchinson, who also was flying all over the field against the Bears Sunday.
Houston proceeded to notch three total sacks in the Week 17 contest, with his last one coming late in the third quarter.
D’Andre Swift re-emerges, looks crisp in home finale
All season, many have wondered if Detroit’s speedy running back would put together a memorable performance in front of the home crowd.
Injuries have derailed what may have been a breakout season for the third-year running back.
Prior to the season, the 2020 second-round draft pick set lofty goals for himself.
Recall, he expressed prior to the start of the season, he wanted to attain both 1,000-yards receiving and 1,000 yards rushing the football.
While those goals will not be achieved this season, Swift did flash some promise against the Bears’ defense.
The Georgia product looked crisp, hit the holes correctly and found his way into the end zone twice in a dominant win for Detroit.