DETROIT -- A few thoughts from an eventful afternoon at Ford Field:
What it means: The Detroit Lions provided their usual scare but ultimately were overwhelmed in the fourth quarter. (Sound familiar?) They are 2-10 this season and have lost their past 19 NFC North games dating to Week 8 of the 2007 season. The Bears, who played a professional but not particularly inspired game, improved to 9-3 and maintained their division lead over the Green Bay Packers.
Turning point: Leading 20-17 with 12 minutes remaining, the Lions decided to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the Bears' 41-yard line. Their first play call appeared to be an option for hard-running quarterback Drew Stanton, but they called a timeout just before the snap to avoid a delay-of-game call. After returning from the timeout, they attempted a low-percentage rollout pass to receiver Nate Burleson. Bears cornerback D.J. Moore tipped it away and the Bears moved 60 yards in six plays to take the lead on a 6-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brandon Manumaleuna. Overall, I thought Stanton looked like a different quarterback than what we saw in his first NFL start last season.
First time in a while: The nine wins ensure Cutler his first winning season since he was playing high school football in Indiana. No lie. On Sunday, he completed 21 of 26 passes for 234 yards and made only one mistake -- a third-quarter fumble that led to a Lions field goal.
For what it's worth: I've covered four Lions games this season, and in two of them, they've punted in a one-score game and not gotten the ball back. It happened in Week 4 against the Packers, a 28-26 loss, and also Sunday. The Bears' offense ran off the final 5 minutes, 11 seconds.
Picking up slack: With veteran defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch sidelined by a neck injury, fellow defensive end Cliff Avril had three sacks and played a role in forcing a third-quarter fumble from Cutler, leading to a field goal. Avril now has a career-high seven sacks this season.
Nasty Suh: This should be no surprise, but Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh doesn't play nice. He was called for a personal foul in the fourth quarter for literally clobbering Cutler to the ground at the end of a run. Referee Ed Hochuli demonstrated how Suh used a right forearm to the back to knock down Cutler. The Lions' bench exploded in protest; the penalty added 7 yards to the end of an 8-yard Cutler run and immediately preceded Manumaleuna's touchdown.
What's next: The Bears will host the New England Patriots at Soldier Field. The Lions will host the Packers at Ford Field. Both games are next Sunday.