Detroit Free Press
CHICAGO — Matthew Stafford stood on the sideline in his team-issued camouflage hoodie and khaki winter hat.
He grabbed a tablet and counseled Jeff Driskel when he came off the field. He talked to David Blough as plays were going on. And he greeted his receivers with helmet pats and words of encouragement in between series.
Stafford missed his first football game in more than eight years Sunday, and the back injury that he and Detroit Lions downplayed during the week had a devastating effect on the only good thing this team has going for it right now – it’s passing offense.
Driskel, the first Lion to start a game at quarterback other than Stafford since Shaun Hill on Jan. 2, 2011, threw for 269 mostly toothless yards, one touchdown and an interception, and the Lions laid another defensive egg Sunday as the Chicago Bears snapped a four-game losing streak and won for the first time since Sept. 29, 20-13, at Soldier Field.
Stafford, after practicing on a limited basis all week, was ruled out hours before Sunday’s game when doctors would not clear him from the back injury he suffered late in last week’s loss to the Oakland Raiders.
ESPN reported that Stafford fractured bones in his back in that game and is out indefinitely.
Driskel, who signed a one-year deal with the Lions in September, led a 13-play, 72-yard field-goal drive to open the game, but the Lions struggled to move the ball most the rest of the afternoon and fell apart defensively over the course of three straight series late in the first half and into the third quarter.
Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who was booed roundly by his hometown fans Sunday, led the Bears on a 10-play, 76-yard touchdown drive just before halftime.
The Bears (4-5) converted a fourth-and-1 deep in their own territory early in the drive, and Trubisky, who had just five touchdown passes entering Sunday, dropped a perfectly-placed ball into tight end Ben Braunecker’s hands for an 18-yard touchdown.
Trubisky led a second touchdown drive on the Bears’ next series coming out of halftime. Darius Slay was called for a questionable pass-interference penalty on Allen Robinson on third down, and Trubisky hit Tarik Cohen in the left flat for a 9-yard score.
Driskel threw a bad interception three plays later, when he never looked off intended receiver Kenny Golladay, and Trubisky followed with his third touchdown pass of the day, from 24 yards out to Taylor Gabriel.
Trubisky, who did not throw a touchdown in five of his first seven starts this season, finished 16 of 23 passing for 173 yards and had a 131 passer rating, his best since shredding the Lions for 355 yards and three touchdowns last November at Soldier Field.
Driskel threw his first touchdown pass since Week 16 of last season with 5:53 to play, when he rolled right to avoid a sack and found Golladay in the front of the end zone.
But Golladay and Danny Amendola dropped passes on the Lions’ next drive, Golladay was called for offensive pass interference on a play that negated a first-down pick-up, and the Lions’ desperation final drive came up empty when Driskell threw incomplete to T.J. Hockenson on fourth-and-7 from the Chicago 25-yard line.
Driskell had 37 yards rushing on five carries to lead the Lions, who’ve lost five of their last six games and return home to play the Dallas Cowboys next week.
At 3-5-1, the Lions are in last place in the NFC North.