When the Detroit Lions beat the Chicago Bears in Week 11, they needed a massive fourth-quarter comeback to make it happen. On Sunday, they found themselves in the same position as they were three weeks ago, in need of a huge comeback to secure a win against the Bears.
But this time there was no late-game magic for Detroit. They lost 28-13, unable to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against a Chicago team that appears to be specifically engineered to give the Lions trouble.
And Bears quarterback Justin Fields was feeling it. He showed the nimbleness he's known for, skipping around and pulling his feet out of the arms of Lions defenders.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) December 10, 2023
The Lions were able to fight back, scoring two touchdowns (with one missed extra point) in the second quarter, and they even had the lead at the half, completely neutralizing all the Bears' early action.
Chicago had tied it up 13-13 late in the third quarter, essentially giving both teams a clean slate to write their own ending. But then the officiating intervened to scribble all over those clean, blank pages with their off-brand dollar store crayons. This play was called an incompletion instead of intentional grounding on Fields.
On third and long, this was ruled an incomplete pass….and not intentional grounding. Bears scored the next play. What are officials doing. pic.twitter.com/vGePxszMNC
— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) December 10, 2023
The incomplete call seemed wrong, but even referees make mistakes, right? So the Lions challenged. And then the officials decided it wasn't a mistake. The call was upheld.
That changed the game completely. On the very next play, the Bears scored their go-ahead touchdown when a big fourth down heave from Fields landed right in Moore's hands.
The Lions got a little lucky on a blocked punt, but they fumbled just two plays into their next drive. The Bears came up with the ball and scored again shortly after.
On the next drive, Lions head coach Dan Campbell (in full "wear a diaper"/"bite some kneecaps" mode) took a gamble and decided to go for it on fourth-and-1 at the Lions' own 30-yard line. But instead of charging ahead, they lost four yards on the play. The Bears got the ball back just yards from the red zone. That Chicago had to settle for a field goal was cold comfort.
Lions quarterback Jared Goff essentially sealed the Bears' win late in the fourth quarter, when a pass meant for Amon-Ra St. Brown was intercepted by Tremaine Edmunds. The Bears were able to run out the clock until the two minute warning, then took a knee a few times to end it for good.
The Lions are now 9-4 and have lost two of their last four games. They will probably watch a lot of film this week to figure out exactly why they needed huge late-game comebacks to win both of their games against one of the worst teams in the league — and why they came up empty this week.