Five big takeaways from Chicago Bears’ epic collapse against Detroit Lions at Ford Field

Bears defense intercepts Jared Goff 3 times in loss

Chicago Bears wide receiver DJ Moore (2), defended by Detroit Lions cornerback Jerry Jacobs (23), catches a 39-yard pass for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023, in Detroit.

DETROIT – The Bears blew a 12-point, fourth-quarter lead on Sunday at Ford Field in Detroit. Lions quarterback Jared Goff led two late touchdown-scoring drives and the Lions beat the Bears, 31-26.

Bears quarterback Justin Fields made his return after missing more than a month with a thumb injury. Head coach Matt Eberflus’ defense played one of its best games – until the final minutes.

Here are the five big takeaways from the Bears’ epic collapse at Ford Field.

1. Justin Fields sparks Bears

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields is pressured during the second half against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023, in Detroit.

Fields made his return after missing four games due to a dislocated right thumb. Fields last played on Oct. 15 against the Minnesota Vikings. During Sunday’s game, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy appeared to call more than a dozen designed runs for Fields. The QB finished with 104 rushing yards on 18 carries. A number of them came on run-pass options, and the Lions defensive end made the mistake of bottling up the running backs instead of the quarterback.

“They weren’t really ready for it,” said receiver DJ Moore, who caught a 39-yard touchdown pass from Fields during the game. “He was kind of hampered with his hand, so I don’t think they expected him to run like he did, but he did. That moved the chains for us.”

Fields fumbled the ball on a strip sack in the final minute, which essentially ended the game, but zeroing in on that play is unfair to the QB. Fields played as well as Eberflus could’ve asked.

Earlier, when the Lions scored to cut it to a one-possession game, the Bears called back-to-back handoffs for running back Khalil Herbert, forcing the Lions to use two of their three timeouts. On third down, Getsy dialed up a deep shot to rookie receiver Tyler Scott. The play was there, but the ball fell through Scott’s hands.

“[The] safety came down, it was one-on-one, [Scott] had him beat,” Fields said. “Just misjudged the ball.”

That play would’ve flipped the field position and given the Bears a huge boost. Instead, it led to a quick three-and-out. The Lions scored to take the lead minutes later.

2. Defensive meltdown

The Bears had four takeaways on the afternoon. The defense came up with three interceptions and the special teams unit forced a fumble.

It still wasn’t enough.

With the game on the line in the final minutes, the Bears couldn’t stop Goff and the Lions. Detroit scored one on a drive that took up only 1:16 of game time, and another on a drive that lasted only 2:04. Lions receiver Jameson Williams took advantage of a breakdown in the Bears’ secondary to score one touchdown. Former Bears running back David Montgomery capitalized at the goal line for the other.

“We’ve got to find a way to get off the field,” Bears linebacker TJ Edwards said.

Edwards, linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and cornerback Tyrique Stevenson all had interceptions for the Bears. Stevenson also caused the fumble on a Lions kick return. Stevenson’s interception was the first of the rookie’s career.

“It definitely felt good, but it doesn’t matter,” Stevenson said. “We still got a loss. I’m going to worry about getting back to the drawing board.”

Goff finished the day 23-for-35 passing for 236 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.

3. Turnovers weren’t enough

Chicago Bears linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and teammates react after Edmunds' interception during the second half against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023, in Detroit.

It’s hard to turn the ball over four times and win a football game, but the Lions found a way. The Bears offense scored one touchdown and one field goal off the four total takeaways.

They didn’t score any points off two first-half takeaways. Instead, the Lions led at the break, 14-10.

“We can learn from that because we didn’t get any points off of [turnovers] in the first half,” Eberflus said. “When you get the ball in plus field on offense, you’ve got to punch it in.”

On Edmunds’ interception in the third quarter, rookie defensive tackle Gervon Dexter put a hand up and tipped the ball. It fell right into Edmunds’ hands. Edmunds played for the first time since injuring his knee on Oct. 29 against the Chargers.

“It’s always tough,” Edmunds said. “We preach, day in day out, about taking the football away. We’ve just got to do a better job. We’ve got to get more.”

4. Montgomery seals it for Lions

A familiar face scored the go-ahead touchdown for the Lions. Montgomery punched in a 1-yard touchdown in the final minute. He celebrated like crazy after scoring against his former team.

“That’s my brother at the end of the day,” said Herbert, the Bears’ running back. “It’s always good seeing him.”

Make no mistake, though. Nobody on the Bears’ sideline was happy to see Montgomery score.

The Bears defense was reeling on that drive, and Eberflus was content to let the clock run.

“The philosophy is you’re playing your two-minutes defense, you’re mixing your coverages,” Eberflus said after the game. “Throwing in pressure as well. The big thing is you’ve got to tackle them in bounds.”

The philosophy is you’re playing your two-minutes defense, you’re mixing your coverages. Throwing in pressure as well. The big thing is you’ve got to tackle them in bounds.”

—  Matt Eberflus, Bears head coach

On the play prior to the touchdown, the Bears tackled Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs at the 1-yard line. Eberflus ran all the way out to the “S” in “Lions” painted in the end zone in order to get the refs’ attention to call a timeout. Eberflus preserved what little time was still on the clock for his offense. It amounted to only 29 seconds.

5. Herbert returns, Foreman goes down

Herbert had not played since Oct. 5, when he injured his ankle during a game against the Washington Commanders. With Herbert out over the last month, D’Onta Foreman played really well in his place. Entering Sunday’s game, it was unclear which running back would handle more touches.

Foreman earned the start and scored a touchdown, but the Bears used the two running backs about evenly early on in the game. Things changed, however, when Foreman suffered an ankle injury just after halftime. Herbert and rookie Roschon Johnson handled all the touches after that. Foreman did not re-enter the game.

“I feel like we were able to run the ball, get ourselves in second and manageable, third and manageable,” Herbert said.

Herbert finished with 35 rushing yards on 16 tries, for an average of just 2.2 yards per carry. Without Fields’ 104 yards, the Bears run game would’ve really struggled. Johnson totaled 30 yards on six carries and Foreman, before his injury, totaled 14 yards and a touchdown on six carries.

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for the Shaw Local News Network. He has covered the Bears since 2020. Prior to writing about the Bears, he covered high school sports for the Northwest Herald and contributed to Friday Night Drive. Sean joined Shaw Media in 2016.