Stafford, Lions Fall: The Good, Bad, And Ugly

Detroit's rookie QB left with an injured knee amid Sunday's 48-24 loss at Soldier Field. We examine the good, the bad, and the ugly ...

After the first half of Sunday's contest at Chicago, the Detroit Lions had strung together six consecutive quarters in which they resembled a professional football team.

Unfortunately, they had to go back onto the field for the final two periods.

The Good

Even with a struggling running game, the Lions remained toe-to-toe with Chicago in the first half, led by rookie Matthew Stafford's 221 passing yards. They notched a touchdown on an opening drive that was underscored by a Calvin Johnson 45-yard catch, responded to Chicago's own success with points of their own, and even managed a 98-yard scoring drive to close out the first half.

The Lions accumulated 10 first downs, converting five of its third down opportunities in the first 30 minutes.

Stafford finished the contest with 298 passing yards on 24-of-36 passing, including a touchdown strike to tight end Will Heller.

The Bad

At face value, it seemed Detroit owned Chicago statistically. They controlled the clock (36:30 to 23:30), tallied more first downs (25-14), and completed 41 percent of its third-down chances to Chicago's 21 percent. Stafford even outplayed Cutler, who tossed for just 125 yards.

But numbers are often misleading, especially when countered by two facets often cited by coaches and analysts alike: turnovers and special teams.

The Lions special teams unit was horrid on Sunday, giving up 283 total yards in the return game, including a 102-yard kick return by Bears' rookie Johnny Knox -- who was three-deep on Chicago's depth chart at the position. The Bears had field position within their own 30-yard line just once, and had scoring drives that began at Detroit's 10, eight, 38, 19, and 47 yard line -- that's five (count'em, 5) scoring drives that began in Detroit's territory.

The Ugly

While Detroit's special teams unit was as equally responsible for gifting Chicago such great field position, the team's two turnovers were dreadful mistakes that likely cost the Lions both momentum and the game.

Early in the second quarter, Stafford tossed an ill-advised interception to Chicago's Tommie Harris who returned it to Detroit's eight yard line. The play set-up Cutler's one-yard pass to tight end Greg Olsen on fourth-down.

After falling behind by 10 late in the third quarter, Stafford's fumble inside his own 20 set up a Bears field goal. The play seemed to remove hope from Detroit's offense, and momentum had swung completely in Chicago's direction.

Beyond Stafford's turnovers, the Lions failed to register a first-down in the third quarter. Running back Kevin Smith, meanwhile, ran 19 times for just 30 yards (1.6 yards per carry).

Even Uglier?

Although the results of Matthew Stafford's injured right knee likely won't be known until tomorrow morning, the play wasn't pretty, as Detroit's rookie -- or, perhaps more accurately, it's entire franchise -- writhed in pain on the Chicago 17-yard line following a wicked sack by Bears' defensive lineman Adewale Ogunleye.

Daunte Culpepper played out the remainder of the fourth quarter, but was ineffective.

Somewhere, Lions fans are praying. And if they're not, they should be.

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