Detroit Lions: Jim Caldwell, Players Comment on Win over Chicago Bears

Dec 11, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell (L) questions a call with field judge Scott Edwards (3) during the second quarter against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 11, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell (L) questions a call with field judge Scott Edwards (3) during the second quarter against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /
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Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell and several players met with the media following today’s win over the Bears. Here is what they said.

Dec 11, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell (L) questions a call with field judge Scott Edwards (3) during the second quarter against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 11, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell (L) questions a call with field judge Scott Edwards (3) during the second quarter against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /

It wasn’t pretty and it definitely wasn’t easy but the Detroit Lions got the win they so desperately needed against the Chicago Bears. Any hope last week’s fine showing against the New Orleans Saints was the new normal instead of needing late-game heroics were dashed when the Bears took a lead midway through the fourth quarter on a pick six. Undeterred, Matthew Stafford turned right around to lead a seven play, 76 yard game-winning touchdown drive.

It’s just what we’ve come to expect from these Lions. Some say they are lucky, some say they are good. The truth is they are probably a healthy combination of both.

After the game, head coach Jim Caldwell and several players spoke with the media about what had transpired. Here is a look at what they had to say, starting with the head coach.

Jim Caldwell

On QB Matthew Stafford making plays despite battling a finger injury: “Yeah, he’s an unusual guy. We had talked, I told the guys earlier in the week that when I was growing up they used to call this division the ‘Black and Blue Division,’ simply because of games like this. I thought he kind of epitomized that. One glove on, limping into the end zone, gave up the whole bit. It was a hard-fought game, the Bears are a big, tough, strong team. They played awfully well and we had a battle on our hands. He leads our group and does a tremendous job of that. I don’t think anybody’s ever questioned his toughness, nor have they questioned his ability to come back from a setback. Throws the pick-six and comes right back and takes the team right down the field and puts it in the end zone. Quite a competitor.”

On if he saw Stafford being affected mentally after throwing a pick-six: “No. I know you guys kind of look for theatrics, there’s not a whole lot of that. I’d like to tell you, ‘He came back with steely eyes and focus.’ It’s not the way it is. He maintains his focus and he’s very, very competitive. He’s got an unusual knack to perform, particularly when things are tight.”

On Stafford getting hit while rushing for a touchdown: “I mean, obviously getting in the end zone for us, that was crucial at that time. Anytime he’s in harm’s way I’m not happy, if he’s not getting down before somebody has a chance to take a shot at him. Oftentimes when he’s trying to gut one out and take off like that, you have to let it go. But I’d certainly prefer him not to take any hits, to be honest with you.”

On how much Stafford was limited by his finger injury: “Anytime you’re doing something that’s out of the norm like that it’s going to affect, you to be honest. But the great thing about it is he’s mentally tough and was able to battle through it.”

On if Stafford broke his finger: “I’m not going to go into detail about it.”

On the defense getting better week after week: “I think that is indeed the case. They’ve been able to hold teams down, today it was 10 points. They’ve been able to keep teams under 100 yards, and particularly that’s a team that can run the ball extremely well. Good, tough people up front with a very, very good back that can run downhill and create some problems for you. Our defense is coming together, they play really well as a unit. It’s good to see (DeAndre) Levy back out there running around making some plays for us. Our linebacking corps is a good corps. Our guys up front do a great job with it, as well as the secondary. I think they’re coming together in a number of different areas, to be honest with you, so we’ve just got to keep that going.”

On WR Anquan Boldin saying he doesn’t let the team get complacent: “It’s not anything out of the ordinary I think. A couple weeks ago, I know I spoke to you guys about it, the psychology of results. Oftentimes because the result is positive it doesn’t mean, and sometimes it washes over the things you didn’t do well. We don’t just glance over the things we didn’t do well, we try to make it a point. Try to improve those in practice, we point them out. Even though we do have a lot of positive we also talk about the negative. I think that in itself kind of in this game is the challenge, and it has a way of keeping you humbled.”

On if he will apply that concept to the team’s preparation this week: “Certainly, oh yeah. Every game there’s so many things that occur like that. There’s so many good things, but then also you look at it and there’s a lot of things that maybe don’t show up that don’t impede a play, that were maybe a whisker away from pending disaster. Those are the kinds of things that you have to talk about.”

On what it meant to both LB DeAndre Levy as well as the team to have him back on the field: “He’s been practicing, so they knew he’s been coming along. But to get him back out in action and made plays, he had four tackles I guess in this game. He ran around and it’ll be interesting to look at the film and see how he did completely. But, you know, you just don’t come in and pick up right where you left off in this game. Guys are moving too fast. So he’s got to get back in the swing of things, but it was good to see him out there. Certainly adds a little lift to you. He’s going to make some plays when he’s on the field.”

On why he limited Levy’s snaps: “We have certain things that we have to do. As we look at things we make determinations on how we’re going into a game, what packages we’re playing. We kind of go about it that way. It’d be insane to put a guy in there 60-something odd plays that hasn’t played in quite some time. We try to be prudent in that regard.”

On how he categorizes this win: “You know, I look at it this way. Number one, it was a big game. Number two, nobody said it was going to be easy. Number three, our guys fought to find a way to get it done. It may not be pretty, but this is the way it is in this game. I just know one thing, you don’t do it that many times and consider it luck, so there is some skill in there. I think our guys do a tremendous job of being able to handle tough situations very, very well and they keep doing it week after week, so tough, good win against a division foe. Good, solid win for us.”

On DE Ezekiel Ansah playing through injuries and if he epitomizes the ‘black and blue’ game that was today: “No question about it and I think every guy up front has a part in that, but that hold at the end of the game was much like a sack. It moved them back and then the second hold that Haloti (Ngata) got called on the guy that was blocking him was huge. Those two plays gave us a chance to at least keep them out of field goal range and force them to do a couple things without comfort and our guys were able to make a play there at the end. But yeah, there’s a lot of assists out there that don’t get noticed, but those two got noticed with flags, so that was really a tremendous effort.”

On why Ansah was able to come back late in the game: “Every game is a little bit different. We just kind of work our way through some issues that we may have. It happens all the time in our game.”

On the value of Boldin’s leadership: “Yeah, I mean he’s invaluable, just in terms of his presence. He’s not a, you guys probably can see, he’s certainly well-spoken, but he’s not just a rah-rah kind of a guy. H e’s a matter-of-fact sort of a guy, but we try to utilize him as much as we can. He sets a great example, no one works harder, no one’s more diligent in their preparation, no one’s more diligent in terms of studying and making sure he’s prepared for the game. He’s a great communicator, but we’ve also had him speak to our rookies. We had all our rookies come in and some guys that have been here a year or so that kind of need to know what it takes to be able to play as long as he played with the level of excellence that he’s certainly displayed week in and week out. Tremendous guy.”

On the team getting strong performances from rookies RB Dwayne Washington and C Graham Glasgow: “Yeah, it was excellent. I’m glad you brought that up because one of the things that we always talk about is hey, we want to be somewhere around four an average, four yards an attempt and then also we’d like to be over 100 yards. I think we were 114 yards. (Zach) Zenner had some really big, tough, strong runs and so did Wash, as well and we had Glasgow playing center for us, just some different things. I thought the guys hung in there and particularly when you get 88 in the second half, that’s key and then we slow down. We didn’t stop them completely, but we slowed down a real strong running attack of a back that’s big and strong and physical. I think we held him to under 100 yards, so we did a good job in that area and I think they sort of balanced one another out.”

On WR Marvin Jones Jr. drawing pass interference penalties today: “Absolutely, excellent job. In particular, the effort he put to get back to the ball because some of them were under-thrown. I think Marvin is one of those guys that, you know, he made a couple tough, tough catches too on a couple balls that were low and away. He did a tremendous job, I think. I just think he really competed. I think those two pass interference calls made a huge difference and then obviously the one catch down the field that he had coming back low to the ground, so he did a lot of things. I don’t know if he had, what did he have, four catches or so? Something like that, but those two pass interference calls were also excellent.”