The Chicago Bears did their job, and all they could do was hope that their arch rivals, the Green Bay Packers, could do the same. The Bears went to Detroit and beat the Lions 26-24, holding off a late charge but ultimately missing out on the playoffs by virtue of the Vikings win later in the day. Jay Cutler played well, as did the defense, but the hole the Bears fell into with their late season slide proved to be too deep to overcome. Chicago’s defense and special teams forced four turnovers, including one interception and three fumble recoveries, that they turned almost all of into points. The Bears were able to jump ahead to an early lead, and hold on with some quality runs and heady plays.
The Lions were able to take an early lead after several punts on a field goal with 6 minutes left in the first quarter. From there, Chicago took over with some help from its defense and a few big plays on offense. The Bears scored 20 straight points, starting with a 60 yard touchdown to Earl Bennett, which came on a bubble screen that he exploded up the sideline for the Bears’ first lead of the day. Then, aided by an interception and two fumbles, the Bears kicked two more field goals and scored on a Matt Forte touchdown, and just like that it was 20-3. The Lions were able to drive to the end zone before halftime, with Matt Stafford hitting Kris Durham on a 25 yard touchdown with just 12 seconds left in the half. The Lions scored first again after the break, as Stafford hit Will Heller to pull the Lions within 3 points. The Bears kicked two more field goals, again aided by a Detroit turnover, and pushed the margin to 26-17. With 7 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Stafford hit Brian Robiskie for a touchdown, making it 26-24 Bears. After forcing a punt, the Lions went 3 and out and were forced to punt themselves, and the Bears used several big plays to ice the game and not give the Lions another chance to score, ending their season and giving themselves hope for the postseason.
Though the Bears missed the playoffs, they still finished 10-6 and were ultimately the own culprit in their second-half demise. As a result, today head coach Lovie Smith was fired, as the Bears had only made the playoffs once in the past six seasons after their super bowl appearance. Smith’s future was uncertain, but many sources believed he would be kept due to the injuries to the team as well as consecutive hot starts in this season and last. The Bears will most likely be making some major personnel changes as well, but that will have to wait until after the season to see exactly what the future holds in store. This one will hurt, though, and the Bears will have to find some answers if they want to make the playoffs next season.