CHICAGO — The Chicago Bears are looking for payback against the Detroit Lions Sunday.
“Look man, they’re playing pretty good football right now and they want to win,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “I’m not worried about revenge. I’m worried about what this team presents.”
The Lions (9-3) beat the Bears (4-8) will face off for the second time four weeks when they visit Soldier Field on Sunday.
Detroit comes in having won four of five, including a wild comeback against Chicago at Ford Field on Nov. 19. The NFC North leaders scored 17 points in the final 2 minutes, 59 seconds to rally from 12 down in a 31-26 victory.
The Lions followed that with a loss to Green Bay before winning 33-28 at New Orleans last week behind a huge effort by tight end Sam LaPorta. The rookie from Iowa set career highs with nine receptions and 140 yards, including an early touchdown and a key first-down grab late in the game.
The Bears, meanwhile, bounced back from the loss at Detroit by winning the following week at Minnesota. They squeezed past the Vikings 12-10 when Cairo Santos nailed his fourth field goal in the closing seconds and Chicago stopped a 12-game losing streak against NFC North opponents.
Now, after a bye, they have a chance to post back-to-back wins for the first time since beating Seattle and the New York Giants in Weeks 16 and 17 of the 2021 season. And they would love nothing more than to do it at Detroit’s expense.
“I think if we can just kind of carry what we did the first 56 minutes of the game against Detroit the first time and finish it out like we did against the Vikings this last week, we’ll be in pretty good shape,” tight end Cole Kmet said.
WHAT A RUSH
Detroit’s Aidan Hutchinson-led pass rush has been dominant at times, racking up 18 sacks in wins over Atlanta, Las Vegas and Green Bay. In the other eight games, the Lions have just seven.
Detroit ranks 27th with 25 sacks. Chicago has a league-low 17.
Getting to the quarterback might be even more of a challenge for the Lions because defensive tackle Alim McNeill went on injured reserve with a knee injury. McNeill had a career-high five sacks, ranking second on the team by just a half-sack behind Hutchinson.
In his last three games against Chicago, Hutchinson has at least a half-sack and his latest against Justin Fields forced a fumble and helped Detroit in its comeback win last month.
TAKE IT AWAY, BEARS
The Bears have seven interceptions and eight takeaways over the past two games. But they’ve had some trouble turning the turnovers into points.
In the loss at Detroit, they had a touchdown and a field goal following turnovers. The following week at Minnesota, they had just one field goal to show for their four takeaways.
“We’ve just got to capitalize on it,” Fields said. “When they do take the ball away, we’ve gotta be able to score touchdowns and get points off of that. I think the biggest thing is when you do have a defense that’s creating turnovers and doing all that great stuff is taking care of the ball.”
Lions general manager Brad Holmes made a lot of major moves in the offseason to bolster both sides of the ball. A subtle one has paid dividends – signing veteran offensive lineman Graham Glasgow to a one-year, $4.5 million deal in March.
He was a backup in the first two games before starting in 10 straight filling in for injured guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai and banged-up center Frank Ragnow, who went down with a knee injury in last week’s win at New Orleans.
“It’s exactly why we got him,” Campbell said.
Glasgow, who grew up about 45 miles from Soldier Field in Aurora, played at Michigan and was drafted by Detroit in 2016. He started 58 games over four seasons before leaving for Denver on a four-year, $44 million contract.
Glasgow will likely start at center against the Bears.
Running back David Montgomery returns to Soldier Field for the first time since signing with the Lions in the offseason.
He delivered a solid performance three weeks ago, rushing for 76 yards on 12 attempts and a go-ahead touchdown in the closing minute. Montgomery played his first four seasons in Chicago.
If the final five games are an audition for Fields, it starts against Detroit.
Fields comes in with 1,587 yards passing with 12 touchdowns, six interceptions and a 92.3 passer rating that ranks 14th in the NFL. He has also run for 400 yards and a score.
The Bears have to decide if they’ll pick up a fifth-year option for 2025 on Fields’ rookie contract. They could be in position to draft Caleb Williams or Drake Maye with two high picks – their own and the one they got from Carolina when they acquired DJ Moore last spring.
BEARS PLAYER TO WATCH
QB Justin Fields. The final five games could go a long way toward determining Fields’ future with decisions looming for the Bears on his fifth-year option for the 2025 season and whether to draft a quarterback next spring. Chicago has two first-round picks – its own and Carolina’s. Fields returned from a four-game absence because of a dislocated right thumb at Detroit in Week 11 and helped put the Bears in position to win before they blew a 12-point lead in the final 2:59. He was showing growth as a passer prior to the injury. In the win over the Vikings, Fields bounced back from two fourth-quarter fumbles to lead the winning field-goal drive.
LIONS PLAYER TO WATCH
Sam LaPorta. The rookie is the NFL’s first tight end with 60-plus catches, 600 yards receiving and six touchdowns in the first 12 games of his career. Five WRs did it: Justin Jefferson, Michael Thomas, Odell Beckham Jr., Marques Colston and Anquan Boldin. LaPorta is the first rookie TE with 140 yards receiving and a TD in a game since Pete Mitchell for Jacksonville in 1995. It’s been done six times by a rookie TE, starting with Bears great Mike Ditka in 1961.
Detroit’s run game against Chicago’s run defense. The Lions had 115 yards rushing against the Bears in Week 11, with David Montgomery doing most of the damage against the team that allowed him to leave as a free agent. The former Bear ran for 76 yards on 12 attempts and a go-ahead touchdown in the closing minute.
Detroit DT Alim McNeill went on IR with a knee injury on Tuesday. … C Frank Ragnow left last week’s game with a knee injury after being listed with back and toe ailments this season. … LB Alex Anzalone was cleared to practice Wednesday after missing a game with a hand injury. … Malcolm Rodriguez, who plays LB, FB and on special teams, has an ankle injury. … The Bears have all their key players healthy.
Detroit has won three straight against Chicago after dropping seven of eight. In Week 11, the Lions scored 17 points in the final 2:59.
STATS AND STUFF
The Lions are 9-3 for the first time since 1962, when they won 11 of their first 13 games. … Detroit has clinched a winning record in two straight years for the first time since the 2016 and 2017 seasons. … The Lions are averaging 400 yards and trail only the league-leading Miami Dolphins. They are the only teams that rank among the top five in passing and rushing. … Detroit has had at least 325 yards in a single-season, team-record 12 straight games – doubling the second-longest active streak in the NFL. … The Lions lead the league with 64 plays that have gained at least 20 yards. … WR Amon-Ra St. Brown has 40-plus yards receiving in 22 straight games, eight more than the next-longest active streak in the NFL. … Rookie RB Jahmyr Gibbs has joined Najee Harris, Saquon Barkley, Marcus Allen and Joe Cribbs as the only players in league history to run for 600 yards and five TDs and catch 40-plus catches through the first 10 games of a career. … Bruce Irvin, a 36-year-old edge rusher, had a sack in his Lions debut last week. … DE Aidan Hutchinson has only one sack in seven games since getting 4 1/2 sacks over the first five games. … The Bears are trying to win back-to-back games for the first time since beating Seattle and the New York Giants in Weeks 16 and 17 of the 2021 season. … Chicago stopped a 12-game losing streak against division opponents with the win at Minnesota. … The Bears have lost nine in a row following byes since a Week 9 win at Green Bay in 2013. … Fields (1,963) has a chance to join Bobby Douglass (2,470) as the only Bears quarterbacks with 2,000 yards rushing. … WR DJ Moore had a career-high 11 catches for 114 yards in the win against Minnesota, giving him 1,003 yards. It’s his fourth 1,000-yard season. He also had seven catches for 96 yards against Detroit three weeks ago. … DE Montez Sweat has a career-high-tying nine sacks – 2 1/2 in four games since a trade from Washington. … CB Jaylon Johnson has a personal-best three interceptions this season.
Montgomery, who played his first four seasons in Chicago, might have a little extra motivation in his return to Soldier Field.
AP Sports Writer Larry Lage contributed to this report.
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