As the expression goes, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. The Bears’ defense has gone toe-to-toe with quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins, and Matt Stafford, so naturally it was an undrafted third-stringer out of Purdue who almost brought them to their knees.
It was surprising when David Blough hit Kenny Golladay for a 75-yard touchdown pass on the Lions’ third play of the game. It became something entirely more concerning when, 15 minutes later, he had thrown another touchdown and ended the first quarter with 131 passing yards.
“It’s the National Football League, everyone is good in this league,” Ha Ha Clinton-Dix said. “You got to respect your opponent and that’s what we had to do. We had to respect our opponent, he showed his talent today. He’s a NFL quarterback, it’s no different if Stafford or Trubisky was in.”
The Bears spent much of the short week preparing for Jeff Driskel, who’s taken over for Detroit since Stafford broke some bones in his back. When Driskel landed on the Lions’ injury report with a bad hamstring, the Bears knew they were probably in for some unscouted looks. They had a limited amount of tape from Blough’s preseason stint in Cleveland to cram with, but at that point, the unit pivoted towards focusing more on their own play.
“We [had] got to go in and tee off,” Eddie Jackson, who got his first interception of the season off Blough. “Like I said, we came out sluggish, very sluggish, and we just had to regroup and get it back together. But you know we got it back together, put the gameplan in – you know, just trying to contain him.”
Blough only threw for 150 yards after the first quarter, so the reports of a Bears’ defensive decline may have been greatly exaggerated – especially when you consider Roquan Smith’s 15-tackle, two-sack game. It was his season-high for both, and the second sack essentially ended the game one play before Jackson’s pick officially did.
“It was simple: they don’t score, they don’t win,” Smith said. “So it was 24-20 or something like that, so they pretty much had to score to win. So we said they don’t score they don’t win. It was that simple.
“[The blitz] was pretty sweet. It was due time for it, so we were ready for it. Me and [Nick Kwiatkoski] were excited about it when we first heard about it, so we were just like hey, yeah, we’ve got to make it land home.”
It sounds funny to say out loud, but the Bears’ defense proved something new against Detroit’s third string quarterback. Very rarely do teams move the ball well on them – let alone score on them twice in a row. Blough (and Kenny Golladay) punched them in the mouth, and in doing so gave the Bears an opportunity to show everyone that they had a plan.
“We knew there was a lot of football left, there’s four quarters of football,” Jackson said. “A lot of things can happen in four quarters. So for us, on the defensive side of the ball, we just knew we had to keep getting them off the field.”
“More important thing is getting a dub on Thanksgiving,” added Smith, who’s a big dressing and cranberries guy. “Then going back and eating a little bit with the guys. It’s definitely awesome getting a dub and enjoying it with my teammates.”