(TSX / STATS) — CHICAGO — Before every game, Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell and his assistants study the wind and field conditions to determine the maximum yardage at which they will attempt a field goal.
On a blustery Sunday afternoon along the shores of Lake Michigan, the coaches agreed that 52 yards would be too far out of reach. But Caldwell ignored his instincts with the game on the line, and the decision paid off with another Lions victory.
Kicker Matt Prater drilled a 52-yard field goal with 1:35 remaining to give Detroit to a 27-24 win over the Chicago Bears. Detroit (6-4) won its third consecutive game and improved to 4-1 on the road.
“He’s pretty special,” Caldwell said of Prater, who has made six field goals from 50-plus yards this season. “He’s done it time and time again.”
Meanwhile, Chicago (3-7) lamented a missed opportunity as the wind wreaked havoc on its chance to force overtime. Kicker Connor Barth missed a 46-yard attempt with three seconds remaining to seal the Bears’ third loss in a row.
The Lions beat the Bears for the eighth time in the past nine meetings.
“It was a tough day to move the football, conditions wise,” said Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who passed for 299 yards and two touchdowns. “We weren’t perfect, but it was nice having guys that fought to get back out there and having them play well.”
Bears running back Jordan Howard rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown in the loss. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky passed for 179 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 53 yards, including a dazzling 19-yard run before Barth’s late miss.
The Bears’ effort was strong but the execution was not consistent enough, said head coach John Fox.
“I thought our whole team played well,” Fox said. “Our guys prepared hard all week, and they put a lot into it. We’ve shown spurts and moments, like we have for some time now. But we have lulls. We just don’t do it for 60 minutes.”
After a scoreless third quarter, the Lions went ahead 24-17 on a 27-yard field goal by Prater early in the fourth quarter.
Chicago rallied to even the score at 24 with 5:02 to play. Rookie running back Tarik Cohen sprinted toward the left pylon and leaped into the end zone for a 15-yard rushing touchdown.
“That’s a play we’ve been working on for a while now,” Cohen said. “I just knew I had to get to the pylon, or if (the defender) was going to meet me there first, I had to stop his feet. I gave him a hesitation move, and then I just had to go over the top to try to stretch and get into the end zone.”
Detroit scored three touchdowns in the second quarter to establish a 21-17 halftime lead.
The Lions’ defense registered its fifth touchdown of the season to pull within 10-7 early in the second quarter. Cornerback DJ Hayden capitalized on a botched snap by the Bears to scoop and score on a 27-yard fumble return.
The Bears made it 17-7 on a 12-yard touchdown run by Howard with 8:30 to go in the second quarter.
Detroit responded with a pair of passing touchdowns to take the lead before the half. Stafford found Marvin Jones Jr. for a 28-yard touchdown and running back Ameer Abdullah for a 2-yard touchdown to erase the double-digit deficit.
“I like the fight that we have in us,” Caldwell said. “I like the way we came out of it. Oftentimes, particularly on the road, some teams take a nosedive when they get behind and don’t come back.”
Chicago scored on its first two possessions to grab a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. Tight end Adam Shaheen notched the game’s first touchdown when he hauled in a 1-yard pass from Trubisky in the right corner of the end zone.
Despite another defeat, Trubisky said he and his teammates could build upon the game.
“Everyone’s staying positive,” he said. “We went down, and we just came up short. Great stuff to learn from, though.”
NOTES: Bears LB Leonard Floyd was carted off the field after he injured his right knee early in the fourth quarter. … Lions DE Ezekiel Ansah was inactive for the second week in a row because of a back injury. He ranks second on the team with four sacks in eight games. … Bears LB Danny Trevathan (calf), TE Dion Sims (illness) and CB Bryce Callahan (knee) were inactive. … Lions S Glover Quin started his 126th straight game, which is the longest active streak among safeties. … Bears WR Joshua Bellamy was placed in the league’s concussion protocol after he was injured in the third quarter.