Sports

Lions worried more about how Bears are playing than the possibility of payback for earlier comeback

Bears Lions Football
Posted at 9:51 PM, Dec 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-07 21:51:44-05

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — The Detroit Lions aren't too worried about the Chicago Bears looking for payback. Something else concerns them, though.

“Look man, they’re playing pretty good football right now and they want to win,” coach Dan Campbell said. “I’m not worried about revenge. I’m worried about what this team presents.”

The Lions (9-3) look to beat the Bears (4-8) for the second time in 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.”

ON GUARD

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.

WELCOME BACK

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.

FIELDS' FUTURE

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.

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AP Sports Writer Larry Lage contributed to this report. ___

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