Monday, September 30, 2013

Chicago Bears 32 at Detroit Lions 40 - September 29, 2013

I am not a big fan of indoor stadiums for football, but it makes sense in Detroit, which has some brutal winters. As it turned out, yesterday in the Motor City was marked by a cold drizzle, so the roof was useful even in September. Paul Swaney, founder of Stadium Journey, accompanied me to Ford Field for game 9 on the trip, with the Chicago Bears in town for an NFC North divisional battle.

We did the obligatory lap but Ford Field is not particularly photogenic from the outside, with no good vantage points as the stadium is right in the middle of downtown. Inside, it is a bit more interesting, and quite a bit different from the other stadiums I have seen. The main entrance at Gate A leads to the Adams Street concourse that is fairly dark with a large number of concessions. Recommended options are the kielbasa with sauerkraut or the Coney Island chili dog.

If you head upstairs, you get a good view of the entrance lobby.

The upper concourse is a bit brighter (above) but concessions here are less varied but Big Boy, based in the Detroit suburb of Warren, is another good local choice. There is no truth to the rumour that I am applying to be the new mascot.

The seating bowl is great, because the suites and club are only on one side of the field. Thus the upper deck is still quite close to the action. However, sections 315 and 316, as well as 346-347, are end zone corner seats that are not angled towards the field. As well, 315 is the family zone, so no alcohol if you please. The view below is from our seats in 315, row 13.

Some other shots of the seating area.

I had seen Chicago last week in Pittsburgh where they won 40-23 and expected them to continue their solid start. After a quiet first quarter in which each team kicked a field goal, the fireworks began.

After David Akers gave the Lions a 6-3 lead on the third play of the second quarter (below), Chicago took over on their own 20. After an end-around gained 27 yards, Matt Forte (#22 below) took a pitch from Jay Cutler and rumbled untouched for a 53 yard touchdown.

That was the high point for the Bears. After Detroit kicked another field goal to make it 10-9 Chicago, the Bears went 3-and-out. Micheal Spurlock returned the punt 57 yards and the Lions drove to the goal line. QB Matthew Stafford (#9 below) tried for a sneak and fumbled the ball, only to have it fall into his arms as he crossed into the end zone for the weirdest touchdown I will see on the trip.

On the first play of Chicago's next possession, Jay Cutler (below) threw a crap pass and it was picked off by Glover Quin, who brought it all the way down to the 2-yard line. On the next play, Stafford tossed the ball to Calvin Johnson, who made a typically acrobatic catch and suddenly it was 23-10.

Chicago again punted after three plays and Detroit used Reggie Bush, returning from injury, to start their drive. But Bush fumbled, only to have Johnson drop on the ball to retain possession. On the next play, Bush got the ball again and juked a defender, leapt over Major Wright, and was on his way to the end zone with a 37-yard highlight touchdown. Three Detroit TDs in 3:26 and the game was pretty much over by halftime.

The Bears made it close in garbage time, but the outcome was really not in doubt, with Detroit winning 40-32. Bush finished with 139 yards while Cutler was picked off three times. Both teams are tied for the division lead at 3-1 and I will see them again in November in Chicago, though I doubt the game will be as entertaining as this one was.


Although I like the design of the stadium, the game experience leaves a lot to be desired. TV timeouts are characterized by constant loud music or announcements, and there is no out-of-town scoreboard to distract you. Too many fans moved around during the action (including a few that decided to leave their seats 5 seconds after a 3-minute TV timeout) and I felt a bit trapped in the middle of a long row.

Those are middling complaints though, what matters is the game and after a couple of weeks of rather mundane affairs, it was nice to see a game with a lot of action. Next up is Buffalo and Cleveland on Thursday night and I am already having nightmares about that one. 6-3 anyone?



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