CHI-DET grades: Lions' secondary steps up in win over Bears
Detroit Lions 20, Chicago Bears 17
Here are the top-graded players and most noteworthy performances from the Lions’ Week 14 victory over the Bears.
Quarterback grade: Matt Barkley, 81.6
Barkley offers evidence to warrant investment
When you watch a fourth-round pick in his fourth pro season making only his third start, you expects to see a lot of things. You expect turnovers. You expect skittish play. You expect to be underwhelmed. But for the third week in a row, Matt Barkley gave evidence that he could be the guy for some team, with a blend of composure and accuracy that nearly led the Bears to a victory. The stats aren’t always pretty with him (you can thank his receivers), but he’s been more than serviceable so far.
Top offensive grades:
C Cody Whitehair, 87.4
QB Matt Barkley, 81.6
LG Josh Sitton, 80.1
LT Charles Leno, 77.8
TE Daniel Brown, 76.7
Bears’ offensive line looking the part
Although there will be no postseason football in Chicago, the Bears can be encouraged by their development along the line. Despite still missing stud guard Kyle Long, they opened big holes for RB Jordan Howard, making life easier for their QB. The highlight is center Cody Whitehair, who had perhaps the best game of his excellent rookie year. He has the athleticism to get position on reach blocks, and the technique and power to maintain it. Get Long back next year, and if the Bears can improve at tackle, we’ll be looking at one of the better lines in the league.
Top defensive grades:
LB Nick Kwiatkoski, 88.6
CB Cre’Von LeBlanc, 88.3
OLB Leonard Floyd, 83.1
DE Akiem Hicks, 79.6
OLB Pernell McPhee, 79.2
Chicago’s rookies shine in valiant effort
For the most part, the Bears were awful on defense last season. Outside of good rookie seasons from Adrian Amos and Eddie Goldman, and strong play from Pernell McPhee, there wasn’t a lot to like. That’s not the case this year, and you get the feeling they’re building something that could be pretty special. Today was the turn of Leonard Floyd (team-best nine pressures) and Nick Kwiatkoski (team-best five defensive stops) to show that the future is bright. Throw in Cre’Von LeBlanc making plenty of plays (two pass breakups to go with his pick-six), and there’s a lot to be excited about.
Quarterback grade: Matthew Stafford, 76.2
Matthew Stafford shows character to lead Lions to victory
There was an awful lot to like about Stafford on Sunday. He was accurate and worked the short and intermediate areas well. But as good as he was in that game, it was ultimately his legs (87.9 run grade) that bailed the Lions out—and prevented his pick-six from being the defining moment of the game. That could have been a back-breaking score to give up, but the new Stafford eliminated it from his memory and put his body on the line to get the go-ahead score.
Top offensive grades:
C Graham Glasgow, 81.0
RG Larry Warford, 77.7
QB Matthew Stafford, 76.2
WR Anquan Boldin, 75.9
WR Golden Tate, 70.7
Lions struggle to overcome strong Bears defense
We’ve seen better from the Lions’ offense. There were too many flags (six) as they struggled to contain the explosiveness and aggression on display from the Bears’ defense. Tackles Taylor Decker and Riley Reiff both were flagged twice, as they struggled to open up the kind of running lanes Detroit wanted (especially in the first half). Indeed, it was often a case of Dwayne Washington needing to make sharp cuts in the backfield away from defenders (and the intended point of attack) to generate positive yardage.
Top defensive grades:
CB Nevin Lawson, 87.1
LB DeAndre Levy, 80.2
DT A’Shawn Robinson, 79.1
CB Darius Slay, 78.5
S Glover Quin, 71.6
Secondary steps up when it matters
With the team rarely getting the kind of quick pressure to help them out, it fell on the shoulders of the Lions’ secondary to save the day. There were negative moments, with star corner Darius Slay beaten on a double-move for a touchdown, but on the final drive, with the game on the line, first Nevin Lawson made a critical pass breakup, and then Slay provided some physical coverage to make life too difficult for the Bears’ receivers to get points when they needed them most.
PFF Game-Ball Winner: Cre’Von LeBlanc, CB, Bears
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