Punter Adam Podlesh disappointed in his performance vs. Lions
BY SETH GRUEN Staff Reporter September 29, 2013 7:15PM
Updated: September 30, 2013 7:30PM
DETROIT — The only Bears likely to be excited about getting away from the swirling winds of Soldier Field are kicker Robbie Gould and punter Adam Podlesh.
That made Podlesh’s performance Sunday at Ford Field, an indoor stadium, all the more disappointing. He had a net average of 28.8 yards per punt, and only one of his five punts traveled more than 50 yards.
His worst punt, a 40-yarder in the second quarter, proved to be the turning point of the game.
With the Bears leading 10-9, Podlesh punted a line drive to the Lions’ Micheal Spurlock, who returned the ball 57 yards to the Bears’ 22. Podlesh prevented a touchdown by running Spurlock out of bounds, but the Lions scored four plays later to take the lead.
‘‘Kicking in Chicago, you welcome [playing inside], which is why I’m particularly disappointed with myself in what I put out there today,’’ Podlesh said. ‘‘Indoors, without any wind, a directional kicker, you should be able to thrive in that environment.
‘‘I did pull a couple of balls, particularly the left ones. That seemed to be my miss today.’’
Podlesh’s lone punt inside the Lions’ 20 came on a fair catch called by Spurlock at the 19 in the fourth quarter. The Lions were leading big at the time, and Spurlock likely had instructions to fair-catch any ball.
Still dealing with injuries to his right groin and knee, cornerback Charles Tillman tried to play as long as he could but yielded significant playing time to Zack Bowman. The two combined to hold Lions receiver Calvin Johnson to four receptions for 44 yards and a touchdown.
‘‘I think I held up pretty good,’’ Tillman said. ‘‘I went as long as my body could take it. I wanted to be out there, but pain, whatever. . . . It’s a team game. I’m trying to be out there for my teammates.’’
The Lions’ defensive line is not only talented, but it challenges opponents schematically.
The Lions’ defensive ends play a ‘‘Wide-9’’ scheme, which requires that they line up far outside the offensive tackles. The idea behind the scheme is that it allows the defensive ends to get upfield more quickly, leaving the linebackers to fill the gaps.
To counteract that, the Bears decided to use Eben Britton as a sixth lineman. On a handful of plays, he came in for tight end Martellus Bennett.
‘‘It was probably as much of the game plan as anything else we do during the week,’’ Britton said. ‘‘It was just a way to get another big guy in there.’’