Bears got some big assists from the Lions on their way to season-opening comeback
Sure, that was a great fourth-quarter comeback for the Bears on Sunday. No question about it.
But it is also accurate to say they got plenty of assistance from the host Detroit Lions on the way to the win column.
And as much as it's true that a game never comes down to one play, there was one play this time that would have literally changed the outcome. Detroit rookie running back D'Andre Swift ran a nice route, got a perfect pass from Matthew Stafford and had the winning touchdown pass in his arms with six seconds on the clock. And dropped it.
This wasn't a fingertip, could have had it if he made a great play kind of thing, either. Swift had it right in his chest, with defenders at least a few steps away.
"Yeah, what a break," Bears coach Matt Nagy said after the game. "I saw that ball on the corner route go right in his hands and I think for a second, you could feel the whole sideline for Detroit just start jumping up and down going crazy. Then they started grabbing their heads because they saw him drop it and we started cheering."
There were other breaks. With a 23-13 lead and 4:08 remaining, Lions coach Matt Patricia decided to attempt a 55-yard field goal instead of pinning the Bears deep.
Matt Prater missed the kick, banged it off the right upright, and as a result the Bears started in good field position at their 45-yard line, instead of deep in their own territory.
"We felt it was an opportunity to really be aggressive, which we tried to do and make sure that we're going out and trying to win the game," Patricia said. "It was certainly within our field goal range. Obviously if it had gone through, that would have been great, and it didn't."
The thing is, making that field goal ultimately wouldn't have done much to change the outcome. But with a short field, the Bears scored their second touchdown quickly and were within 23-20 with 3:03 left after Javon Wims' 1-yard TD catch.
The Bears' task got even easier when Stafford threw an interception three plays later. Ultimately, Bears rookie cornerback Jaylon Johnson made a great play, deflecting the pass intended for Marvin Jones Jr. over the middle. But the ball took a perfect high arc straight into Kyle Fuller's grasp, setting up the go-ahead 37-yard drive.
After the game, there was a lot of talk about Swift's state of mind, and rightfully so. That's a tough way to start your NFL career.
"I put my arm around him as soon as we got to the tunnel, walked up the tunnel with him and told him he's a great player," Patricia said. "The game's not on him. It's on me, it's the entire bad execution and bad plays we had a towards the end of the game and bad coaching. We all had opportunities to do a better job."
Veteran running back Adrian Peterson has been a Lion for less than a week. So after rushing for a surprising 93 yards on 14 carries, he tried to avoid the "Oh no, not again" mentality that tends to follow the Lions like a dark cloud.
"As a team, you could feel the sense of, 'Gosh, how did we lose that one?'" Peterson said. "But what was more overwhelming than that was a positive energy. Because I know guys realized we gave it away.
"We can't let this define us. We have to take the good from this negative situation we experienced today. There were a lot of missed opportunities. If we clean up those things, we're up by 30 points easily. My first big run, if I press the safety and cross his face to the right, it's 7 points instead of settling for a field goal."
Hold on there. You're not the Vikings-era Adrian Peterson that ran for 224 yards against the Bears as a rookie in 2007.
But he is right. The Lions did their part to give this one away.