The Chicago Bears may have beaten the Detroit Lions 24-20 Sunday afternoon, but it wasn't going to come without its share of controversy.
On first down, and knocking on the door of the Lions endzone, Bears' QB Jay Cutler found himself scrambling out of the pocket and trying to make a play. Lions' DE Ndamukong Suh also found himself trying to make a play. Suh made an attempt to push Cutler out-of-bounds but during the process, he seemingly jammed his forearm into the back of Cutler's helmet.
Referee Ed Hochuli flagged Suh for unnecessary roughness, later saying he felt the blow was a "non-football act." The penalty gave the Bears first-and-ten at the Lions' seven yard line, and Jay Cutler proceeded to connect with TE Brandon Manumaleuna for a touchdown. Had Suh not been flagged, the Bears would have been facing second-and-two from the Detroit 14. Not exactly a no-go situation.
Nevertheless, the call was probably the wrong one to make. Cutler was out beyond the line-of-scrimmage rushing the football. The same guidelines for taking down a quarterback don't apply in that particular situation. It's probably not fair to speculate but one has to wonder, if Suh had made that same play on Matt Forte, would it have ever been called?
While the call alone did not exactly win it for the Bears, it certainly does hit a sore spot with a Detroit team who lost to the Bears in their first meeting of the season after the much-discussed Calvin Johnson catch. "We've been getting a lot of bad calls lately," Johnson said after the game.
But, similar to that first match-up, if you were to look at the numbers alone and not the score, you'd still likely guess the Bears as the victor, and rightfully so. The Bears owned the time-of-possession by nearly 10 minutes, had a redzone efficiency of 100% to the Lions' 50%, 23 total first-downs to the Lions' 14, and they out-gained the Lions in total yards, 311 to 302.
Lions' third string quarterback Drew Stanton, who started the game, did not look much like a rusty-rookie. Stanton threw 16 of 24, for 178 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. He also had one go-ahead rushing TD on the day. Stanton made the most of just his second NFL start. Bears' QB Jay Cutler, despite being sacked four times, had a very solid performance as well. Cutler was 21 of 26, for 234 yards, one TD and no interceptions, his second consecutive game with no picks.
While it wasn't the most convincing win, the Bears came back against the division opponent on the road and got the win. And they'll take it, as they continue on a five game winning streak; remain undefeated in the NFC North, and a game ahead of the Green Bay Packers. I'd almost go so far as to wonder if we're not seeing the beginning signs of a rivalry brewing between these two teams. The Lions will certainly be looking to have the Bears' number when they meet next in 2011, assuming there is no lockout.
As for wide receiver Nate Burleson's guarantee of a Lions' victory? He didn't comment on it specifically after the game, but did say he had a some words with Bears' safety Chris Harris and LB Brian Urlacher on the field during the game. "It was just some competitive talk," Burleson said.