Report card reflects Bears defensive gem vs. Detroit

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Report card reflects Bears defensive gem vs. Detroit

The defense allowed the Lions 91 total yards and zero points in the first half, of some significance given Detroits average of 25.2 points and nearly 420 yards per game. Detroit finished with 340 yards total but much of it was late and with the Bears playing to protect a 13-0 lead until the final minute.

Detroits game plan was curious: 52 pass plays, 15 run plays, despite running backs averaging more than five yards per carry. And the Bears were effectively neutralizing the Lions biggest offensive weapon.

DEFENSIVE LINE A-

Julius Peppers overran left tackle Jeff Backus for a first-quarter sack and came out of a second-quarter scrum with a fumble recovery to end a Lions scoring threat. Detroit tried to establish the run with Mikel Leshoure but the front left few gaps for yardage. Shea McClellin and Stephen Paea shared a second-quarter sack.

Henry Meltons forced fumble by Joique Bell at the Chicago one turned back a third-quarter Lions scoring threat. Israel Idonijes sack of Matthew Stafford in the final minute was a 19-yard loss. The line finished with six additional hits on Stafford.

LINEBACKERS A

Lance Briggs ended a Detroit second-quarter drive with a pass deflection and topped that on a crucial subsequent possession inside the Chicago 25 with a forced fumble. Brian Urlacher grabbed a Detroit fumble inside the Chicago 1 and was active in coverage with two pass breakups and a tackle for loss. Briggs had eight tackles and Urlacher seven, six of them solo. Nick Roach saw little action with the Bears playing predominantly nickel for the game.

SECONDARY A

Charles Tillman spent much of his evening shadowing Calvin Johnson and shut the Lions linchpin in the first half when Detroit netted 43 passing yards. Johnson was targeted three times with no catches in the half. He finished with just three receptions on the 11 passes thrown to him, and no touchdowns. Tillman broke up a throw to Johnson in the end zone and the Bears recovered a Detroit fumble a play later.

D.J. Moore ended a scoring threat with his second interception of the season while sharing nickel duty with Kelvin Hayden. Tim Jennings led the Bears with nine tackles.

Chris Conte and Major Wright delivered effective blitzes without getting a sack but pressuring Stafford. Each had a near interception and Conte was credited with six solo tackles.

COACHING A

The defense used occasional blitzes for pressure on Stafford and personnel shuffling confused the Detroit offense, including Johnson. The defensive line rotation was using a different foursome almost every play at times and the scheme forced the Lions to become impatient, leading to three red-zone turnovers.

Blackhawks score late but can't get past Jets

Blackhawks score late but can't get past Jets

The Blackhawks’ offense has been struggling for some time now. Nevertheless, the Blackhawks, more often than not, have found a way to get just enough to get them a point or two.

But this weekend, their mediocre offense was downgraded to anemic, and the inevitable disappointing results followed.

Artemi Panarin scored his second goal in as many games but the the Winnipeg Jets scored late to take a 2-1 victory over the Blackhawks on Sunday night. The Blackhawks dropped their second in a row. It was also the first time they didn’t record at least a point at the United Center since their season-opening loss to the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 12.

Jonathan Toews missed his sixth consecutive game with a reported back injury that coach Joel Quenneville said is “not getting better.” Toews will stay off the ice for a few days and be re-evaluated in the middle of the week.

Scott Darling was strong, stopping 30 of 32 shots. But it was one more game in which the Blackhawks leaned on their goaltending and provided little offensive support.

“Yeah, it’s been frustrating,” Duncan Keith said. “We’re obviously not doing what we need to do to create enough offense, putting pucks on the net or getting to the net or even just having enough offensive zone time.”

No, the Blackhawks’ zone time wasn’t so good in this one. That was especially true on their first power play, during which the Jets were more of a threat on Darling than the Blackhawks were on Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck.

Still, thanks to Panarin’s goal with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation, the Blackhawks once again had a chance. Andrew Copp diminished those chances some with his goal with 4:45 remaining. The Blackhawks got a four-minute power play with less than three minutes left in the third period but couldn’t get one past Hellebuyck. Their best chance, coming from Marian Hossa, was stopped with 2.6 seconds remaining in regulation.

“That was a good chance to get the equalizer and we had a couple of decent looks but not the finish we were looking for,” Quenneville said. “We didn’t generate much tonight. It was one of those games. They came into our building, what was it a year or two ago, where they beat us back-to-back Sunday nights. They shut us down. The first two games [this season] they’ve shut us down pretty good.”

There’s no doubt the Blackhawks are missing the void left by Toews. Sure, they got points in four of the first six games he missed. But as Patrick Kane said, eventually you start feeling the void left by a top player.

“When you’re missing a guy right away for a couple of games, it may not really show up and guys are excited to get that chance. The longer you go, missing a great player, there’s going to be a hole,” he said. “Nothing we can control. It’s something guys like myself and other guys have to step up and try to [help], whether it’s taking on more ownership and leadership, playing the right way and do whatever you can to help this team win.”

The Blackhawks are going to have to find ways to win without Toews, as they did when he was first absent, because it sounds like he’ll be missing at least a few more games. Even when Toews was in the lineup, however, the scoring issues were there. Are the Blackhawks lacking confidence? Darling said no – “I’d be surprised [at that] with the great offensive players we have in here.”

Still, the Blackhawks need to find answers, no matter who’s in their lineup.

“We just have to figure out a way to get that chemistry going,” Darling said. “Because when it’s going it’s pretty lethal.”

The Right Combination: Bears receivers get it done vs. 49ers

The Right Combination: Bears receivers get it done vs. 49ers

In snowy conditions the Bears receiving corps had a solid day in Sunday's 26-6 win against the 49ers.

Josh Bellamy led the way with four receptions for 93 yards, while Cam Meredith, Deonte Thompson and Daniel Brown each had multiple catches.

Watch the video above to see the Bears Postgame Live crew discuss the performance of the wide receivers.