5 big takeaways from Chicago Bears’ win over Detroit Lions on Sunday

Defense comes away with 3 takeaways in win over NFC North leaders

Chicago Bears Head Coach Matt Eberflus congratulates his team after a touchdown during their game against the Detroit Lions Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023 at Soldier Field in Chicago.

CHICAGO – This time, the Bears closed it out.

For the second time this season, the Bears held a double-digit lead over the Detroit Lions. Unlike three weeks ago, when they blew a 12-point advantage, the Bears held on for a victory on Sunday at Soldier Field. The Bears beat the Lions, 28-13, thanks to some creative play designs, timely deep shots and ferocious defense.

Quarterback Justin Fields and receiver DJ Moore connected on a 38-yard deep ball after the Lions jumped offsides, giving the Bears a “free play.” It felt like a defining moment for a maturing offense, and we took a longer look at that play here.

Besides the free plays, here are the five big takeaways from Sunday’s game.

1. Close it out

Chicago Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson intercepts a pass intended for Detroit Lions tight end Sam LaPorta during their game Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023 at Soldier Field in Chicago.

“Finish” became something of a mantra at Halas Hall this week. Three weeks ago, when the Bears blew that lead against Detroit, there was talk of learning how to finish games. A week later, when the Bears made a fourth-quarter comeback against Minnesota, it felt like the first step in the right direction.

On Sunday, the Bears were flat out better than the NFC North-leading Lions. And when they had the Lions down, they didn’t let up.

The Bears’ defense held Detroit scoreless in the second half. The collective unit forced three consecutive punts, a fumble, made two fourth-down stops and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds capped it off with a game-sealing interception of quarterback Jared Goff.

“You definitely get that feeling when [we’re] up two scores, and it was just like we were getting a little happy,” defensive end Montez Sweat said. “We were like, ‘Hold on. Back up, because we just got humbled like two, three weeks ago.’ We wanted to finish on a good note this time.”

The offense kept the foot on the gas, too, scoring nine fourth-quarter points to put some distance between them and the Lions.

“The guys always stayed together,” head coach Matt Eberflus said. “There was never a point where the morale was bad or the guys didn’t have that. I told them that in the room. I said, I appreciate their leadership because they hung together through adversity.”

2. Brisker on a roll

Chicago Bears safety Jaquan Brisker brings down Detroit Lions tight end Brock Wright during their game Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023 at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Safety Jaquan Brisker and cornerback Jaylon Johnson both had interceptions in the game. Linebacker TJ Edwards recovered a fumble on a botched Lions’ snap. Once again, the Bears had three takeaways. They’ve done that in three consecutive games.

Brisker led the Bears with 17 combined tackles, including 13 solo tackles. It was a career high and it marked the most tackles in a game by a Bears defensive back since at least 1960, according to the team.

“I feel like I was making tackles, but I didn’t feel like I was making 17,” Brisker told Shaw Local after the game. “I thought it was around five or six, something like that.”

I feel like I was making tackles, but I didn’t feel like I was making 17. I thought it was around five or six, something like that.”

—  Jaquan Brisker, Bears safety

Eberflus couldn’t believe that stat line from his second-year safety.

“Sounds like my college stats for crying out loud,” quipped Eberflus, who played linebacker at Toledo. “No, it’s unbelievable to get 17 tackles. That’s unheard of.”

Brisker is playing with confidence and swagger. His interception was his second of the season after catching one two weeks ago in Minnesota.

3. QB review

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields looks for a receiver in the Detroit Lions secondary during their game Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023 at Soldier Field in Chicago.

The way things are going, Fields is going to make general manager Ryan Poles’ offseason decisions difficult.

Fields is playing well within the system and within the parameters of what the Bears are trying to do. The Panthers lost again Sunday, moving the Bears closer and closer to the No. 1 overall draft pick. The Bears hold the Panthers’ first-round pick in the spring.

But, like it or not, Fields is playing well. Was Sunday a perfect game? Certainly not. But Fields played mistake-free football and did what he needed to do to win the game.

“Everybody has bought in the past three or four weeks, and we’re all coming together as a team,” Fields said. “I expect nothing but us to keep coming together, keep getting better, and just keep working.”

Fields ran for 58 yards and a touchdown. His scrambling abilities kept drives alive. The threat of him running on a trick play with Moore is enough to throw off defenses. Moore took a direct snap, faked a handoff to Fields and ran for a touchdown.

Fields finished with 223 passing yards and a touchdown on 19-of-33 passing. Was he holding onto the football too long, at times? Yes, that continues to be a concern. Did he miss some throws? Sure.

But the Bears are winning right now, and they’re doing it with Fields at QB. Bears fans might as well enjoy the ride for the next four weeks.

4. Making an impact

Chicago Bears defensive end Montez Sweat celebrates after stopping the Detroit Lions on 4th down late in their game Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023 at Soldier Field in Chicago.

The trade to bring in Sweat from Washington continues to pay off.

Now, five games since being infused into the defense, Sweat continues to make his presence felt. Sweat added five tackles, four QB hits, a sack and pass defensed on Sunday.

“He just adds another dimension of physicality,” defensive tackle Justin Jones said. “He is just a really, really great player. I love having him. He’s just different. I ain’t going to lie.”

Sweat’s physicality and ability to affect plays, in turn, makes Jones’ job easier to drive pressure on the quarterback and elsewhere. Jones finished with five tackles, two quarterback hits and 1.5 sacks on Sunday.

“There’s not as much stress on me as it’s been in the past,” Jones said.

Per NFL Next Gen Stats, Sweat was an average of 3.42 yards from Goff at the time of his throws, on average. That was mark was more than a yard better than league average.

When Sweat arrived, the Bears were 2-6. They’re now 5-8 and still in a playoff hunt.

“I felt like it was a really tight group [when I arrived],” Sweat said. “I saw a group of guys that had chemistry and had each other’s back. I really admired that. I’m glad to be a part of it. It wasn’t [a similar] case where I came from. It was kind of like waiting on the season to end. Here, it’s every week it’s a new challenge.”

5. Playoffs?

Let’s be real a moment. The Bears just won back-to-back games for the first time since Matt Nagy was coach. As tight end Cole Kmet pointed out after the game, they don’t throw parades for winning two straight games.

At 5-8, bringing up the P-word (playoffs) seems premature. But nobody is afraid to say it in the Bears’ locker room.

“We know we can play with any team,” Johnson said. “We’ve just got to do what we can do to finish and make the right play.”

If the Bears win out, they would be 9-8 and likely in the mix for the final wild card spot in the NFC. For those keeping tabs at home, that would mean a six-game win streak to end the season from a team that hadn’t won back-to-back games in 700-plus days.

“It’s not even want,” Kmet said. “We have to win out. That’s where we’re at. Look, you play this game to get in the playoffs and that’s what you want.”

Last week, the New York Times’ playoff projection model gave the Bears a 2% chance of reaching the playoffs. With the win Sunday, that’s up to an 8% chance. Is it far fetched? Sure. But this team is playing well at the right time.

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.

Jacob Bartelson

Jacob Bartelson

Jake is a full-time sports reporter writing primarily for the Kane County Chronicle covering preps. His collective work is featured across several Shaw markets and platforms, including Friday Night Drive and Bears Insider. Jake began full-time in 2017.