Hoge: Stafford’s Frustration Boils Over As Bears Dominate
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By Adam Hoge-
CHICAGO (CBS) My, how things have changed.
Just a month ago it was the Lions making a statement against the Bears by dominating them physically to earn a 24-13 win on Monday Night Football.
But Sunday it was the Bears making the statement, bringing the Lions back down to Earth with a 37-13 pounding at Soldier Field.
And their statement didn’t just come on the scoreboard. After whispering about cheap hits by the Lions in Detroit, the Bears made a point of playing physical, rattling quarterback Matthew Stafford without crossing the line.
Instead, it was Stafford who crossed the line.
The quarterback completed just 33-of-63 passing attempts for 329 yards and threw four interceptions while missing a number of open receivers throughout the day. The interceptions were particularly costly as Charles Tillman and Major Wright both returned one for a touchdown. After the game, Stafford revealed he had a fractured finger in his throwing hand.
But as bad as Stafford looked with his arm, his demeanor was even worse. After Tillman picked him off in the third quarter, Stafford immediately started yelling at referee Pete Morelli instead of looking to make the tackle. As it turned out, Stafford was the last line of defense and Tillman took it 44 yards to the end zone to give the Bears a 34-6 lead.
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But Stafford’s worst play came on a later interception. After Tim Jennings picked him off in the fourth quarter, Stafford got frustrated by a block by D.J. Moore and ripped him to the ground by grabbing Moore’s helmet. The cheap shot led to an all-out brawl on the Lions sideline with numerous Bears players running across the field to jump in.
“He kind of blocked me and I was just trying to get him off of me the best I knew how,” Stafford said. “I guess he didn’t like the way I did it and he wanted to ask me about it.”
Moore had a different view of the situation.
“When you’re going after my livelihood, my neck and you are trying to hurt me, I just can’t let that go,” the cornerback said.
When all was said and done, Moore was ejected and Stafford went unpunished.
“That was a bad call,” Brian Urlacher said after the game. “I don’t know why he got thrown out of the game. That was stupid. Not on his part. The call was bad.”
Jay Cutler didn’t criticize the call, but he did say it was necessary to do what Moore did.
“I think so,” the quarterback said. “You don’t want to tell everyone to do that, but at a certain point I think this team has to draw the line and if a team is going to cross that we are going to have to retaliate and we’re going to have to stand up for ourselves.”
It was an ugly moment in an otherwise tremendous game for the Bears.
Some will worry about the offense only putting up 216 yards of total offense, but the unit did enough for the Bears to take control of the game early when the Lions fumbled twice.
“We took advantage of the takeaways we were able to get on the defensive side of the football,” head coach Lovie Smith said. “We would like to have a couple plays back but I thought we did what we needed to do to get points on the board.”
The offense only scored one touchdown — a 6-yard run by Matt Forte in the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead — but the special teams and defense scored the rest of the points to give the Bears an easy win. Devin Hester returned a 82-yard punt for a touchdown, while Robbie Gould added three field goals.
Urlacher critical of refs
D.J. Moore is sure to get a fine after he was kicked out of Sunday’s game, but Urlacher’s wallet might take a hit too.
In addition to questioning why Moore was thrown out, the linebacker was also critical of a personal foul call on Lance Briggs when he blasted Calvin Johnson after a catch.
Briggs appeared to do everything right on the play, leading with his shoulder without launching himself, but the refs threw a flag for unnecessary roughness.
“I don’t know why that was a penalty,” Urlacher said. “What are you supposed to do? He hit him with his shoulder, turned his head to the side. It was full speed contact. What do you want? Lance is a big guy. Guys are going to go backwards when he hits them.”
Suh rips another helmet off
Lions defense end Ndamukong Suh has created himself a reputation for ripping opposing quarterbacks’ helmets off and he continued that Sunday when he ripped Cutler’s helmet off his head on a first quarter tackle.
No flag was thrown on the play, but Lovie Smith wasn’t happy about it.
“I think it’s safe to say you shouldn’t do that,” Smith said when asked if Suh crossed the line. “I’ll leave it at that.”
Best Defensive Performance?
Smith preaches takeaways every day so you know he was happy with the Bears recovering two fumbles and grabbing four interceptions.
The Lions had just five turnovers all season coming into the game, but they were guilty of six Sunday. It was so impressive that Urlacher went as far as to suggest it was the best defensive performance by the Bears since he has been on the team.
“I don’t think you are going to lose too many games playing like that on defense,” he said. “That’s as dominant as I’ve been around since I’ve been here.”
The last time the Bears forced six turnovers in a game was Sept. 17, 1995 when they had seven at Tampa Bay.
Hester extends records
Devin Hester continues to make a case for the Hall-of-Fame, extending his all-time punt return touchdown record to 12 and his kick return record to 17 (five kickoffs). He now has 18 total return touchdowns in his career (including a 108-yard missed field goal return), putting him just one behind Deion Sanders who had 19 in 188 career games. Hester has recorded all of his in just 85 games.
Hester didn’t play in the second half because of illness, but he was favoring his left ankle a little bit after his last punt return. Hester didn’t practice all week because of the ankle and illness.
Left guard Chris Williams left the game with a wrist injury and Lovie Smith said he had surgery on the wrist Sunday and will miss some time. Edwin Williams replaced him at left guard.
For more Bears coverage, follow Adam on Twitter (@AdamHogeCBS).