By LARRY LAGE | AP Sports Writer
DETROIT (AP) — Jared Goff has played nearly mistake-free football for two months and his decision-making, along with a much-improved defense, has put the Detroit Lions in a position that seemed unfathomable at the end of October.
Goff threw three touchdown passes, including two in the first half to Brock Wright, and Detroit routed the Chicago Bears 41-10 on Sunday to remain in the chase for an NFC wild card.
The Lions (8-8) have won seven of nine to give themselves a shot at earning a postseason spot for the first time since 2016 going into their regular-season finale at Green Bay.
“It’s where we want to be, playing in the last game of the season that means something,” said Goff, who was 21 of 29 for 255 yards and did not throw an interception for an eighth consecutive game.
Detroit won just three games in 2021 during coach Dan Campbell's debut and started 1-6 this season, testing his leadership and the faith ownership had in him.
Campbell never wavered, publicly or privately, and his reward is having a playoff berth possibly at stake against the Packers.
“It's just so special," he said. “It's as good as it can get."
“I mean, seriously, you get to go to historic Lambeau — where the tops in this division has been Green Bay for years — to go earn your right, potentially."
Chicago will close the season, mercifully, with a chance to have the No. 1 pick in the draft.
The Justin Fields-led Bears (3-13) took two leads in the opening quarter before collapsing and losing a franchise-record ninth straight game.
“We got off to a good start with the first two drives, but after that it wasn’t good enough,” coach Matt Eberflus said. “We didn’t come out for the second half ready to play football.”
Goff completed passes to 10 teammates and an 11th, rookie receiver Jameson Williams, ran 40 yards on a reverse early in the third quarter to set up Jamaal Williams' 15th rushing score that gave Detroit a three-touchdown lead.
Jamaal Williams had a career-high 144 yards rushing on 22 carries and D'Andre Swift added 117 yards from scrimmage and two scores.
On the other side of the ball, rookie defensive end Aidan Hutchinson got the better of Fields by forcing two turnovers in the first half.
Fields started strong, running for 105 yards in the first quarter alone and throwing a 13-yard touchdown to Cole Kmet, before Hutchinson recovered his fumble and picked off a pass in the second quarter.
Fields finished with 132 yards rushing, giving him 1,143 this year. With one game left, he has a chance to break the single-season NFL quarterback rushing record of 1,206 yards set by Baltimore's Lamar Jackson in 2019 during his MVP season.
When Detroit shut down Fields' ability to run for the final three quarters, he was in trouble. Fields was 7 of 21 — completing a season-low 33.3% of his passes — for 75 yards and was sacked a season-high seven times.
“There were some plays where I tried to make something out of nothing and ended up taking a sack," he said.
Hutchinson became the first defensive lineman with three interceptions since the Bears' Richard Dent in 1990. He's the first lineman in NFL history to have three picks as a rookie.
Detroit rookie James Houston has five sacks, matching Von Miller (2011) and Santana Dotson (1992) for the most in the first six games of an NFL career.
Bears: OGs Michael Schofield III (knee) and OL Teven Jenkins (neck) were injured during the game while WR Dante Pettis and DB Jaylon Jones were evaluated for concussions.
Lions: RB Justin Jackson (ribs) and S DeShon Elliott (shoulder) were inactive.
Bears: Close the season at home against the Vikings next weekend.
Lions: Play the Packers on the road next weekend.
At just $20/year, your subscription not only helps us grow, it helps maintain our commitment to independent publishing.
If you're already a subscriber and you'd like to send a tip to continue to support the Chicago Journal, which we would greatly appreciate, you can do so at the following link:
Chicago Journal Newsletter
Join the newsletter to receive the latest updates in your inbox.