• Detroit Lions Take Control of the NFC North and Their Destiny [Opinion]

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    It went down to the wire but due to some clutch moments on both sides of the ball the Detroit Lions were able to defeat the Chicago Bears with a final score of 21-19. While the win wasn’t the most impressive, it’s still a great win because through this the Detroit Lions increase their overall record to 6-3 and their divisional record to 3-1 which allows them to take the lead in the NFC North.

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    While I am proud of the Lions for earning this tough win on the road and taking the lead in the NFC North, there is still plenty to discuss about this game, both positive and negative.

    Offensively, I felt the Lions should have played much better in this game. This Lions offense went through to many inconsistent stretches of not being able to score. When it came to the running game, running back Reggie Bush got going in the second half as he finished the game with 105 rushing yards but I still felt he blew a couple of big plays with dropped passes. Passing wise, I like the fact that once again quarterback Matthew Stafford was spreading the ball around and that other receivers besides Calvin Johnson stepped up in this game such as Kris Durham, Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria. Calvin Johnson played great as always, making clutch plays left and right and scoring the game winning touchdown for the Lions. Johnson finished the game with 83 yards and two touchdowns.

    However, as I said earlier, the Lions offense just can’t afford to go through those long stretches of not scoring because I honestly feel if the Lions defense hadn’t played solid, the Lions may have lost this game. Stafford played well in this game throwing for 219 yards and three touchdowns but he also had a key interception that the Bears were fortunately unable to capitalize on.

    Which leads me to the Lions defense who once again came away with some big plays. However, there were a couple of moments where the Lion defense allowed penalties to get in the way, particularly on the Bears last drive of the game. Defensive tackle Nick Fairley had a costly roughing the passer penalty that helped to move the Bears up the field. Later on that same drive, defensive end Willie Young made helmet-to-helmet contact with quarterback Josh McCown on the two-point conversion which he was flagged for allowing the Bears to receive another opportunity to tie up the game.

    However, it was in that moment that Fairley came up with a big play, tackling running back Matt Forte in the backfield and stopping the Bears from tying up the game. I honestly feel it was key plays like those that saved the Lions today. As I mentioned earlier, Stafford threw a huge interception allowing the Bears an opportunity to take the lead but the Lion defense was able to stop them and force them to settle for a field goal. Linebacker DeAndre Levy came up with a huge interception in the Bears red-zone, once again stopping the Bears from putting points on the board. The Lions defense did a great job of making the Bears one-dimensional, the defensive front seven for the Lions was consistent all game and did not allow the run game to get going. While the secondary did have some moments of inconsistency they still gave a solid effort in today’s game and came up with some key plays.

    So again you have to give credit the Lions defense who continues to have big moments and stops in games this season and somehow they have been able to do it for long stretches.

    I also have to talk about Head Coach Jim Schwartz and the Lions special teams. I must say that I was unhappy with Schwartz for a particular play. In the second quarter, the Lions were in the red-zone with a 4th down situation and Schwartz decided to go for it. The Lions were not able to earn the first down and were stopped by the Bears defense but I felt in that moment, Schwartz and the Lions would have been better kicking the field goal, giving them a three-point lead going into halftime.

    Then there was another key moment in the fourth quarter when the Lions had a chance to increase their lead but kicker David Akers missed the field goal, allowing the game to stay close and in range for the Bears. Just do the math real quick from these two situations, if the Lions go for a field goal and convert it instead of going for it on 4th down and Akers make the field goal that he missed in the fourth quarter, Lions would have had 6 extra points on the board. Which would have given the Lions more breathing room in the end. It may be small factor but if the Bears had won this game, those six points could have mattered big time. Thankfully for the Lions it didn’t come back to bite them.

    Overall, I am still proud of the Lions for winning this game and while some fans may feel that I am being hard on them, I’m honestly not, I just want fans to understand how the Lions put themselves in bad situations that they shouldn’t have to be in. I understand that the Bears are tough team but again if the Bears had done a better job of executing on offense or better yet play quarterback Josh McCown over Jay Cutler, this game could have gone very differently.

    The Lions are currently 6-3 and have slight control over the NFC North but they could have a better record and more control of the NFC North if they had been able to finish and win games against the Cardinals and Bengals earlier this season. In both those losses that Lions had multiple opportunities to win the game but couldn’t and while they are able to pull out wins sometimes with missed opportunities, sometimes they aren’t able to overcome those missed opportunities and mistakes.

    However, I again must say that I am proud of the Lions and what they have accomplished but this is not the time to get cocky, they have plenty of games left and they need to get ready and focus for their next game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers may be going through a tough season but the Lions would be smart to not underestimate them especially since they are playing in Pittsburgh. The Lions have control of the NFC North and their destiny, let’s see what they do.

    Written by LBeasley, Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit

    Listen to LBeasley’s Radio Show, “Sports Talk with L-Beasley” every Mon, Wed & Fri from 6-8pm (ET) on LBeasley.com

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