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Other Week 17 Game Recaps

Week 17 Game Recap: Detroit Lions 24, Chicago Bears 20

What you need to know

Detroit Lions

The Lions have been a different team since making changes in-season at offensive coordinator, largely due to Stafford's comfort with the offense and his decision making. He continues to take sacks instead of forcing a throw, and miraculously, his accuracy has soared since the change. Calvin Johnson tamed the defense with his ability, and the offense worked their way up the field easily against the Chicago defense.

Chicago Bears

The season finally is over for the Chicago Bears. The team finished with a 6-10 record under new head coach John Fox. To cap off the season, the Bears dropped fell to the Detroit Lions by the score of 24-20.

A very depleted Bears team took the field Sunday, without the likes of Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White, Eddie Royal, Marquess Wilson, Martellus Bennett and Zach Miller. Basically, the Bears were missing every offensive skill player not named Jay Cutler, Matt Forte and Jeremy Langford.

Playing about as well as any quarterback could have given the lack of talent on the field, Cutler completed 17 of 23 passes for 245 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Cutler reverted back to the old Cutler by trying to fit balls in windows of which they donít fit, leading to interception after interception after interception. Matt Forte contributed 110 all-purpose yards in what looks to be his final game as a Chicago Bear.

Not much else to report here. Letís now see how Ryan Pace and John Fox build this team in the offseason.

Detroit Lions

QB Matthew Stafford, 65 offensive snaps, Pass: 28 - 39 - 298 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 6 - 10 - 0
Continuing his hot streak, Matthew Stafford delivered again facing the Bears and finished 2015 strong. Wasting little time on the first drive, Stafford went deep to Calvin Johnson for a 25 yard hook-up. He then continued to work the field hitting five different receivers on five passes, finishing with a Tim Wright touchdown out of a bunch formation that created separation for the tight end. Later in the first quarter, Stafford and the offense failed to take advantage after a turnover, as the line collapsed twice causing back-to-back sacks for the quarterback. The second quarter's time of possession was dominated by the Lions and saw a heavy dose of Stafford and the pass attack. With the pocket collapsing early in the second quarter, Stafford hung tough and found Eric Ebron on an out route for 8 yards. On the next pass Stafford threw a perfect back-shoulder pass to Calvin Johnson 20 yards down the field. Backyard Stafford also made an appearance, executing a clever side arm throw around a defender to catch Ebron in stride and keep the offense moving. While he piled up plenty of yardage, Stafford was unable to score in the second quarter. Things warmed up for the Detroit offense on their second possession of the third quarter, as Stafford quickly moved the ball downfield. Using his feet to scramble for 12 yards, Stafford followed up his run with a bomb to Johnson. With two defenders in the receiver's vicinity, Stafford placed a pass perfectly for Johnson to work in between the two defenders and make the catch for a 36 yard touchdown. Later, Joique Bell helped pad Stafford's stats on a 36 yard catch and run with nearly all of the yards after the reception. Theo Riddick added another 18 after motioning out of the backfield for a short catch across the middle as well. On Stafford's final touchdown of the game, Stafford hit Ebron in the back of the end zone on a crossing route for a 1 yard touchdown. Stafford played another great game of mistake free football and gave Detroit a moral win to close out their 2015 season.

RB Ameer Abdullah, 26 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 44 - 0, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (1 targets)
The primary runner for Detroit, Ameer Abdullah was effective on the ground. He wasn't stopped for a loss all day, and only had one run for no gain. He was able bounce outside the line, but did see diminished success between the tackles. Abdullah was only targeted once through the air, but was able to find room to work on the play.

RB Theo Riddick, 31 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 4 - 0, Rec: 4 - 29 - 0 (5 targets)
Theo Riddick's usage was sporadic throughout the game. He failed to break any big plays early on, but did execute on two plays in the fourth quarter. Working the middle of the field on both passes, Riddick had gains of 10 and 18 yards, the second of which he motioned out of the backfield and had a quick double move to lose the defender as he headed downfield.

RB Joique Bell, 12 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 9 - 0, Rec: 2 - 49 - 0 (2 targets)
Running less than Matthew Stafford, Joique Bell collected all of his ground yardage on two of his three runs. His major contributions were on short passes that he was able to churn for additional yardage. In the fourth quarter, Bell's best play came when he caught a pass near the line of scrimmage and busted through defenders and to the inside for a 36 yard gain.

WR Calvin Johnson, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 10 - 137 - 1 (15 targets)
Seeing a heavy dose of single coverage, Stafford looked in Calvin Johnson's direction much against the Bears. The connection started strong with the second pass of the game going to Johnson 25 yards down field. A perfectly thrown back shoulder pass to Johnson added another 20 yards early in the second, and the two continued their success throughout the quarter. In the second half, Johnson caught a 36 yard touchdown between two defenders to get things rolling, and continued to reel in short and intermediate passes to move the chains through the fourth quarter. Since the change in coaching, Stafford and Johnson have had a resurgence in their efficacy.

WR Golden Tate, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 34 - 0 (6 targets)
Golden Tate had a bit of a quiet day. Targeted on shorter routes, he found success in getting yards after the catch, with a prominent 12 yard gain after a nifty spin move to break a tackle and head up field. Tate did not touch the ball in the second half of the game.

WR T.J. Jones, 17 offensive snaps (1 targets)
Targeted on a 30 yard pass in which Stafford scrambled from right to left, the pass was too far in front of the receiver to make a catch but the receiver put forth an extra effort to get open in the secondary.

TE Eric Ebron, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 25 - 1 (7 targets)
Seeing the second most targets for Detroit receivers come his direction, Eric Ebron played a role in keeping the offense alive. Stafford found him often as a safety valve when the pocket collapsed and Stafford scrambled to find an open receiver. Late in the game, Ebron executed on a crossing route deep in the end zone for a 1 yard touchdown.

TE Timothy Wright, 7 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 9 - 1 (1 targets)
Only seeing one target in the game, Tim Wright caught a 9 yard touchdown when he was used in a bunch formation where the defenders got crossed up and left Wright wide open in the end zone.

Chicago Bears

QB Jay Cutler, 52 offensive snaps, Pass: 17 - 23 - 245 - 2 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 1 - 11 - 0
The idea of saving your best for last doesnít really apply to Jay Cutler. The Bearsí quarterback managed to go 15 games without throwing multiple interceptions in the same game -- a feat he blew out of the water in Sundayís 24-20 loss to the Lions.

Now, the loss definitely does not fall on Cutlerís shoulders. The quarterback did about as much as he could given the lack of offensive talent on the field. He completed 17 of 23 passes for 245 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Averaging 10.7 yards per pass by throwing to unknowns like Josh Bellamy, Cameron Meredith, Marc Mariani (better known for his PR duties) and Deonte Thompson.

Surprisingly, the offensive game plan seemed to be more open against the Lions than in recent weeks, when Cutler found himself throwing most of his passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. This was not the case Sunday, as Adam Gase certainly showed more depth during a time when his team had very little to show.

Not much else to discuss here. Take away the three interceptions from Cutler and the box score looks pretty nice. It looks like a version of Cutler the Bears might want to bring back next season.

RB Matt Forte, 43 offensive snaps, Rush: 17 - 76 - 0, Rec: 3 - 34 - 1 (3 targets)
Matt Forteís career as a member of the Chicago Bears is likely over. The eight-year veteran finished out the season with a vintage performance, contributing 110 total yards and a touchdown -- 17 carries for 76 yards and three receptions for 34 yards (1TD).

Following a few consecutive weeks in which Jeremy Langford saw more playing time, Forte played the role of bell cow in Sundayís loss. Forte carried the ball 17 times while Langford saw only five carries. Forte saw three targets in the passing game while Langford received zero.

Thereís no doubt Forte ran hard for the fans who cheered him for eight great seasons, but thereís also no doubt that Forte simply does not run as hard as he used to. Forteís lack of burst at the line of scrimmage was ever-so apparent Sunday. His longest carry of the day went for 13 yards. Take away said carry and Forte only averaged a very pedestrian 3.9 yards per attempt.

Letís not allow his lack of burst to take away from the story, though. Sunday was Matt Forte day at Soldier Field (not really, but it felt that way).

RB Jeremy Langford, 14 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 14 - 0
This one is going to be short, mostly because Langford barely saw the field in Sundayís 24-20 loss to the Lions. With Matt Forte likely playing his last game as a member of the Chicago Bears, offensive coordinator Adam Gase made sure No. 22 got the ball early and often.

Langford saw only five carries against Detroit, while Forte saw 17. Langford received zero targets in the passing game, while Forte received three.

Leading up to the game, knowing how depleted the Bears were on offense -- without the likes of Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White, Eddie Royal, Marquess Wilson, Martellus Bennett and Zach Miller -- one would have thought Langford would have played a huge role in the game plan. This would have been the spot for Gase to use Langford as a receiver, as much as he could.

You have to wonder if Langfordís catching problem was the primary reason to keep him off the field. If youíve been following along here week by week, youíd know Langford has a propensity to drop the football when itís thrown his way. Perhaps management was sending him a message, or perhaps not.

Barring something completely and utterly unforeseen, Langford will be the Bears starting running back next season.