Bears' playoff hopes fade with loss to Lions

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81), defended by Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller (23), makes a 25-yard reception for a touchdown during Thursday's first half in Detroit.

    Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81), defended by Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller (23), makes a 25-yard reception for a touchdown during Thursday's first half in Detroit. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 11/27/2014 6:35 PM

DETROIT -- Consider the Bears' playoff hopes about as vibrant as the local economy.

The Bears latest failure further exposed a 5-7 team that is every bit what its record suggests. The Bears have an offense practically unable to score without the benefit of a short field, and a defense that can only impose its will on weak opponents.

 

Actually the defense couldn't even do that on Thanksgiving Day. The 8-4 Lions came into Thursday's game with a poor offense, having failed to reach the end zone in their previous two games. Only three teams had scored fewer points in the first 12 weeks.

But the Lions, especially quarterback Matthew Stafford (116.0 passer rating) and wide receiver Calvin Johnson (11 catches, 146 yards, 2 touchdowns), had little trouble rolling over the Bears. Detroit's 34-17 victory was easy, even though the Lions spotted the visitors a 14-3 first-quarter advantage.

The Lions hadn't scored more than 24 points in a game since Week 1. They dropped 24 on the Bears in the first half, despite a slow start.

"That first quarter I felt like we had a bead on them," said Bears defensive end Jared Allen. "We were doing some good things. (But) you have to play a full game, and we didn't do that. So, defensively, we'll take the credit for this loss and we'll get better."

Allen helped provide much of the early momentum -- which the Bears proved incapable of sustaining. He sacked and stripped Stafford and then recovered the fumble at the Lions' 5-yard line to set up the TD that put the Bears ahead 14-3.

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But that lead disappeared in the blink of an eye. In just the second quarter, the Lions piled up 199 yards and 21 unanswered points. The allegedly resurgent Bears defense that had held consecutive opponents to 13 points did not show up other than for the first quarter.

But Allen, who had the Bears' only 2 sacks, would be wrong to accept the blame on behalf of the defense. The Bears' offense made only a cameo appearance at Ford Field.

As mind-boggling as it might seem for a team that held a 14-3 lead, the Bears had just 8 running plays in the entire game but called 51 pass plays. Those 8 runs produced only 13 yards, so it's difficult to know whether the lack of productivity or the failure to give the run game a chance was the bigger problem.

The only thing blatantly obvious was that the Bears weren't good enough on either side of the ball Thursday, which has happened too often in Trestman's second season.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We didn't play well enough to win," Trestman said. "We didn't get it done, neither on the offensive or the defensive side of the ball. We didn't have enough ammunition to stop them or to continue drives."

The Bears settled for Robbie Gould's 35-yard field goal to pull within 24-17 midway through the third quarter after a 63-yard drive, their longest of the day.

But the Lions methodically drove 95 yards to a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter to grab a 31-17 lead that was never threatened.

After going six games without scoring a point in the first quarter, the Bears got off to an uncharacteristically fast start, building a 14-3 edge in just 11 minutes and 25 seconds. But they still trailed 24-14 at halftime.

Both Bears touchdowns came on Jay Cutler-to-Alshon Jeffery passes of 10 and 6 yards.

On the first score, the Bears took advantage of a short field following a 16-yard punt return by Marc Mariani to their 45-yard line. The next TD was even easier after Allen's sack-strip-recovery trifecta. On the second play after the turnover. Jeffery won a jump ball from Rashean Mathis at the back of the end zone for a 14-3 Bears lead.

But the Lions put together consecutive TD drives of 78, 86 and 64 yards en route to a total of 474 yards of total offense, 205 more than the Bears managed.

Maybe it was his own lack of opportunity and production (5 carries for 6 yards), or maybe it was a season filled with disappointment, but a frustrated Matt Forte accurately summed up the Bears' plight.

"With the talent we have on our team, we definitely are underachieving," Forte said. "A few guys have to do some soul searching for the rest of the season and plan how they want to play the rest of these games."

• Follow Bob's Bears and NFL reports on Twitter@BobLeGere.

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