Lions' defense disruptive in 40-32 victory over Bears
DETROIT - If the Chicago Bears really want someone to block Ndamukong Suh so badly, they need Nick Fairley.
Fairley was the only one who could contain Suh Sunday afternoon.
It was late in the third quarter when Suh forced a sack-fumble that resulted in Fairley’s 4-yard scoop-and-score in the Lions’ 40-32 victory at Ford Field.
Suh raced off the field while Fairley and the rest of the defense celebrated in the end zone. But as Fairley came to the sideline, Suh ran up to give him a chest bump.
They jumped up and Fairley knocked Suh right to the ground.
Man down, man down.
Make that 6-foot-4, 307-pound beast down.
It doesn’t happen very often.
“He got me,” Suh said. “That belly just overcame everything.”
Fairley, who is 6-4, 298 with a rather large midsection, admitted that his belly indeed got the best of Suh.
“Yes it did,” Fairley said. “We got to work on our celebration. Big fellas might not need to jump. We just do a little hand shake or something. We ain’t jumping no more.”
This Fairley-Suh combination in the middle of the Lions’ defensive line is a big reason why the Lions are tied for first place in the NFC North with the Bears at 3-1.
They are a nightmare for offensive lines and quarterbacks.
Suh got his first two sacks of the season and also drew a penalty on rookie offensive guard Kyle Long for illegal use of the hands to the face that negated a 27-yard pass.
“They were trying everything to get him stopped,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. “Our pass rushers were doing a good job. I can’t believe we didn’t get about 100 holding penalties against them today.”
For Suh, this could be a turning point where he starts to get recognized again for his dominating play rather than just his bad reputation.
“I hope so, but to be honest with you, this is just a great feeling that we’re winning,” Suh said. “I’m not so much worried about whether people see me dirty or if they see me as a great player. We’re winning. I’m satisfied with that.”
But Suh added, “I would love for it to be focused on my play.”
The Lions, largely because of his play and all the pressure up front, ultimately did to the Bears what the Bears usually do to other teams.
They harassed quarterback Jay Cutler, forced turnovers and turned them into points:
--- An interception late in the first quarter in Chicago territory by safety Louis Delmas, who ripped the ball away from receiver Alshon Jeffrey, led to a field goal.
Delmas just wanted it more. He’s 5-foot-11, 202 pounds. Jeffrey is 6-3, 216.
--- Safety Glover Quin, who was signed as a free agent and has been a major upgrade for the secondary, returned an interception 42 yards to the Chicago 2-yard line to set up a second-quarter touchdown.
--- Delmas had another interception in the third quarter before Suh and Fairley combined for the clinching touchdown to give Detroit a 37-16 lead.
Four takeaways for the game, 11 total in four games.
This aggressive, opportunistic style is exactly what the Lions need from their defense. They’re averaging 2.8 takeaways per game after averaging 1.1 a game last season.
“It was a big problem for us last year,” Schwartz said. “We didn’t get very many turnovers. But we’ve got some playmakers on defense. We’ve got some guys up front that can rush, some guys on the back end who can go get the ball.”
Much of the talk going into Sunday centered on Chicago’s ball-hawking defense.
The Lions took all of that to heart.
“As a defense, of course,” Fairley said. “That’s all we heard. Bears’ defense this, Bears’ defense that. We’ve got to tip our hats off to those guys. Those guys are really good as far as getting the ball out, turnovers and all that.
“Coming into this game, we knew our defense had to step up to win this game. I think we stepped up.”
That’s the way this team can make the playoffs. It’s what they did two years ago when they got off to a fast start and ended up winning 10 games.
Bend, don’t break. Force mistakes. Take advantage.
So far, so good.
They’ll get another test next Sunday at Green Bay against Aaron Rodgers.
In reality, this isn’t the type of defense that’s ever going to be known for shutting teams down.
The Bears scored three touchdowns, three field goals and even a couple of two-point conversions, partly because the Detroit offense turned the ball over when it was trying to close out the game.
“We gave up too many points,” Suh said. “I’m not too happy because we gave up 32.”
It didn’t matter in the end because of the four takeaways.
They did what they needed to do.
“That’s what we harped on,” Fairley said. “Going out, trying to get picks, get forced fumbles, sacks, strips, things of that nature, and try to get in the end zone when we do get the ball.
Defensive scores help teams win. That’s what we’re trying hard to do.”
If it continues, nobody will be mocking the Lions’ defense anymore.