Oct 22, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) is tackled by Detroit Lions middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch (55) during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Two Detroit Lions defenders have been selected as recipients of the SideLion Report game ball for their play against the Chicago Bears.
Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh played a big part in harassing the hobbled Jay Cutler but more importantly, he was the unsung hero for the defense’s biggest play. It looked like the Bears would end the half with points as they were deep in Lions territory with less than a minute until halftime. That was until Ndamukong Suh got a hand up to bat a Cutler pass that would be intercepted in the end zone by DeAndre Levy.
Just how big of a play was it? According to the win probability chart, the Bears went from a win probability of 70.9% before the interception down to 48.8% – the third biggest single-play swing in the game.
Admittedly, Stephen Tulloch’s play didn’t always jump out at me as I watched on Sunday afternoon. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t have a tremendous impact on the game. By the time Pro Football Focus got done reviewing Tulloch’s performance, they had given him the eight-best single game inside linebacker rating in their history. PFF’s Michael Renner explained how such a big rating came about with such little fanfare:
"Tulloch wasn’t downgraded once and made three stops in the run game and three in coverage. He showed amazing reaction in the passing game and enough speed to chase down Alshon Jeffrey from behind on a crossing route. He allowed three of five targets to be completed for just 15 yards and had a pass defended. He also made plays that won’t go on any stat sheet. The best example of this came in the third quarter with 8:56 remaining. Tulloch ended up blitzing the same gap Nick Fairley was occupying and instead of hesitating, he took a page from the Patriots’ playbook and drove Fairley right past Matt Slauson and into the backfield. It may not have been the flashiest game you’ll see, but Tulloch played lights out against the Bears."
In short, Tulloch played a near perfect game by doing the big things and the little things. That is the kind of performance that needs to be recognized whether it jumped off the screen or not.
Suh is being honored for the second time this year while Tulloch gets his first SLR game ball of the year.
2013 SideLion Report Game Balls
Week 1: Reggie Bush
Week 2: Sam Martin
Week 3: Matthew Stafford and Ziggy Ansah
Week 4: Ndamukong Suh and Louis Delmas
Week 5: DeAndre Levy
Week 6: Joseph Fauria and DeAndre Levy
Week 7: Calvin Johnson
Week 8: Calvin Johnson
Week 9: Bye
Week 10: Ndamukong Suh and Stephen Tulloch