Marathon, 8-minute drive capped Bears' victory
DETROIT -- Outside linebacker Robert Quinn had a feeling he wouldn't see the field again. And that was a good thing.
The Bears took over possession with 8:30 remaining in the game, trailing by a point. Quinn had faith in the Bears' offense.
"So I kept my sweatpants and beanie on and sat on the sidelines and watched the offense close the game out," Quinn said.
Quarterback Andy Dalton and the Bears' offense drove 69 yards on 18 plays to set up the game-winning, 28-yard field goal from kicker Cairo Santos as time expired. The Bears held off the winless Lions 16-14 on Thanksgiving Day at Ford Field in Detroit.
The Bears dinked and dunked their way down the field, eating up precious seconds along the way. They were aided by a 5-yard penalty against the Lions on a crucial third-and-9 when Detroit coach Dan Campbell took two timeouts in a row. The NFL outlawed that several years back in order to keep teams from icing the kicker repeatedly.
Dalton connected with Damiere Byrd for a 7-yard gain on the next play, giving the Bears a first down and allowing Dalton to take several knees to run the clock down and position the ball between the hashes for Santos. The Bears' kicker, who had missed a 53-yard try earlier in the game, thought the Bears were going to score a touchdown.
"I was feeling selfish that way," Santos said. "So I was glad they took a knee and gave me the opportunity."
With Justin Fields sidelined by a rib injury, Dalton returned to the starting lineup and played well. He kept the offense moving, although the Bears struggled to finish drives. With a four-day turnaround from their previous game, the Bears didn't have any live practices this week.
"What a credit to Andy Dalton for being able to come in here without one live rep the entire week and does what he does with that group of guys, it wasn't easy," coach Matt Nagy said. "There were things that we want back, but in the end, that last drive shows who they are."
Dalton threw for 317 yards with a touchdown and an interception. On the Bears' best possession of the game, Dalton connected with receiver Darnell Mooney for a 52-yard completion, then found tight end Jimmy Graham for a 17-yard touchdown on the next play. It went as a two-play, 69-yard scoring drive and it was the Bears' only touchdown of the game.
"For us, to have everything going on this week and everything on the outside, for our guys to just play to the very end and get a win on Thanksgiving, it's special," Dalton said.
The Bears lost inside linebacker Roquan Smith to a hamstring injury midway through the game. Smith didn't play in the second half. Receiver Marquise Goodwin also suffered a foot injury and did not return to the game. Outside linebacker Sam Kamara suffered a concussion during the game.
The win improved the Bears to 20-15-2 all-time on Thanksgiving. The team has won four straight on Thanksgiving, winning in 2018, 2019 and 2021 against Detroit, and against Green Bay in 2015.