Detroit Lions fall to Chicago Bears, 27-23, after fourth-quarter implosion

Dave Birkett
Detroit Free Press
View Comments

At least there weren’t fans here to boo this one.

The Detroit Lions suffered a massive opening day collapse for the second straight season, losing Sunday to the Chicago Bears at an empty Ford Field, 27-23.

Mitchell Trubisky hit Anthony Miller for the game-winning 27-yard touchdown with 1:54 to play, two plays after Kyle Fuller intercepted a deflected Matthew Stafford pass.

For subscribers:Only thing normal about Lions' opener: The gut punch at the end

The Lions, who gave up 21 unanswered points after taking a 23-6 lead in the third quarter, had a chance to win in the end, but rookie D’Andre Swift dropped a would-be touchdown on the goal line with 6 seconds to play and Jaylon Johnson knocked down Stafford’s desperation last pass to Marvin Jones in the end zone.

Detroit Lions cornerback Tony McRae gives up the winning touchdown to Chicago Bears receiver Anthony Miller late in the fourth quarter at Ford Field, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020.

The Lions, coming off a 3-12-1 season, blew an 18-point fourth-quarter lead in their season-opening tie with the Arizona Cardinals last season.

Sunday’s game was played without fans and with piped-in crowd noise due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Twitter reactions:New year, new players, Lions lose opener 'in the most Lions ending ever'

The setting made for an eerie gameday experience, and perhaps led to a uneventful first 29 minutes.

The Lions and Bears traded field goals and struggled to convert in the red zone for most of the first two quarters, but Stafford led back-to-back touchdown drives to end the first half and start the third quarter for the Lions.

Swift scored on a 1-yard run with 19 seconds left in the first half, after two long Stafford-to-T.J. Hockenson passes.

The Lions got the ball to start the second half, and Stafford capped an eight-play, 72-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Hockenson that put the Lions ahead, 20-6.

[ Lions LB Jamie Collins' head-butt looked like an honest mistake ]

Prater tacked on a 44-yard field goal late in the third quarter, but the wheels came off again for a team that struggled to close games out all of last season.

Up 23-13 with just over 4 minutes to play, Lions coach Matt Patricia opted to try a 55-yard field goal rather than punt and pin the Bears’ struggling offense deep.

Prater’s miss gave the Bears the ball at their own 45-yard line, and five plays later Chicago was celebrating in the end zone.

The Lions ran just three plays on their ensuing drive before Stafford tried to squeeze a pass to Jones that deflected off Johnson's arm and into the air, where Fuller grabbed it to give Chicago a first down at the Lions' 37-yard line.

David Montgomery ran for 5 yards on first down, and after a Jahlani Tavai offsides penalty gave the Bears first-and-10 at the 27, Miller beat Amani Oruwariye down the sideline for a touchdown.

Stafford finished 24 of 42 passing for 297 yards with one touchdown, and Adrian Peterson ran for 93 yards on 14 carries in his Lions debut. The Lions played without top receiver Kenny Golladay and lost starting cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Justin Coleman to hamstring injuries.

Trubisky, who won a camp battle with Nick Foles for the starting quarterback job, was 20 of 36 for 243 yards and three touchdowns for the Bears. He’s now 4-0 as a starter against the Lions under Patricia.

Patricia is 0-5 against the Bears as the Lions' coach.

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here's how you can gain access to our most exclusive Lions content. 

View Comments