Bears squeak by Lions, but miss playoffs

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Bears squeak by Lions, but miss playoffs

DETROIT (AP) Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears held on late against turnover-prone Detroit.

Then, the waiting began.

Cutler threw for 257 yards and a touchdown and helped seal the game with a late scramble, and Chicago kept its playoff hopes alive - for now - with a 26-24 win over the Lions on Sunday.

The Bears (10-6) still need a Minnesota loss to Green Bay to reach the postseason. The win by Chicago eliminated the defending champion New York Giants from the playoff picture.

"I don't usually say this, but Go Pack Go,'" Cutler said.

Minnesota played Green Bay started as part of the later session of Sunday afternoon games. There were some quiet groans in the Chicago locker room after the Vikings scored an early touchdown on TV.

The Lions (4-12) lost their last eight games and turned the ball over four times in the finale. Calvin Johnson fell short in his attempt to become the first player with 2,000 yards receiving in a season.

Detroit trailed 20-3 late in the first half but pulled within two in the fourth quarter and had the ball at its own 9-yard line before a three-and-out forced a punt.

The Bears ran out the last 3:40, with Cutler's 19-yard run on third down keeping the drive going.

"We did what we needed to do. The rest is out of our control," coach Lovie Smith said. "All we can do now is hold our breath and watch."

Johnson, who broke Jerry Rice's record of 1,848 yards receiving the previous weekend, finished at 1,964 after catching five passes for 72 yards.

"It's hard to shut down Calvin Johnson, but we just put as many guys as we possibly could on him," Smith said. "We doubled him a lot, and we were always rolling extra guys at him. We didn't want to get anything deep; we wanted him to earn everything he got underneath."

Detroit's Matthew Stafford went 24 of 42 for 272 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. He finished the season with an NFL-record 727 pass attempts, surpassing Drew Bledsoe's mark of 691 from 1994.

Stafford fell short of a second consecutive 5,000-yard season, finishing at 4,967 through the air.

It was a surprising fall for the Lions, who made the playoffs last season for the first time in a dozen years. Coach Jim Schwartz wouldn't address speculation about his job status.

"The thing I'm most concerned with is getting this team back to where we all want it to be," he said. "I'm not proud at all of our record."

The Lions scored two straight touchdowns to make it 20-17 in the third quarter, but Chicago, which came into the game with a league-high 40 takeaways, forced another turnover.

Stafford's fumble gave the Bears the ball at the Detroit 13. It was the fourth time the Bears started a drive inside the Detroit 25, and they ended up kicking a field goal.

Olindo Mare added another field goal, a 20-yarder with 10:47 left in the fourth, to make it 26-17. Stafford's 9-yard touchdown pass to Brian Robiskie pulled Detroit closer, but it wasn't enough.

Cutler threw a 55-yard pass to Alshon Jeffery to the Detroit 27 on Chicago's first play from scrimmage, delighting the many Chicago fans in attendance at Ford Field. But that drive stalled, and the Bears actually had to punt after Cutler fumbled on third down and the ball was recovered back at midfield.

After the Lions kicked a field goal, Chicago struck back when Cutler swung a pass out to Earl Bennett, who made the catch behind the line of scrimmage, got a block and outran the defense for a surprisingly easy 60-yard touchdown.

Joique Bell fumbled away the ensuing kickoff, and the Bears kicked a field goal. In the second quarter, Stafford fumbled deep in his own territory. Julius Peppers recovered for Chicago, and his short return gave the Bears the ball at the 10.

Matt Forte scored on a 1-yard run to make it 17-3.

The Lions weren't done giving the ball away. Tim Jennings picked off Stafford's overthrown pass, and his 31-yard return to the Detroit 23 set up another field goal.

Stafford's 25-yard scoring pass to Kris Durham with 12 seconds left in the half made it 20-10, and he threw a 10-yarder in the third to Will Heller.

NOTES: Chicago TE Matt Spaeth left the game with a concussion. ... The Bears were without LB Brian Urlacher (hamstring). He hasn't played since Dec. 2.

Northwestern to play home basketball games at Allstate Arena in 2017-18

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Northwestern to play home basketball games at Allstate Arena in 2017-18

While Welsh-Ryan Arena undergoes a complete facelift, the Wildcats needed somewhere to play during the 2017-18 season.

That home location was announced Tuesday. Northwestern will play its home schedule at Allstate Arena in Rosemont during the 2017-18 campaign.

The previously announced renovation of Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2017 and finish up in the fall of 2018, ready for the 2018-19 season.

“We are excited to partner with Allstate Arena to host Northwestern men’s basketball games during the 2017-18 season while Welsh-Ryan Arena is undergoing its renovation,” Northwestern athletics director Jim Phillips said in the announcement. “The venue has a rich college basketball tradition in the Chicagoland area. I know that our fans will enjoy cheering on our team at Allstate Arena during what will be an exciting season.”

Certainly Allstate Arena is no stranger to college hoops. It's served as the home court for DePaul for decades and famously hosted the NCAA tournament Midwest Regional in 2005, when Illinois scored a remarkable win over Arizona to advance to the Final Four.

The renovation to Welsh-Ryan Arena promises a radically transformed venue for Northwestern hoops. Announced back in June, the renovation's details include new chair-back seating throughout the arena, new locker rooms and offices for the men's and women's basketball teams, new restrooms and concession areas for fans, as well as an expanded concourse, a new ticket office, an expanded lobby and an expansion of the N-Club, plus the retention of the recently installed video boards.

Spartans linebacker Jon Reschke to miss 'significant time' with ankle sprain

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Spartans linebacker Jon Reschke to miss 'significant time' with ankle sprain

The bad news keeps coming for the Michigan State linebacking corps.

A few days after Riley Bullough surprisingly sat out of the Spartans' big game against Wisconsin with an injury, fellow starter Jon Reschke will miss "significant time" with an ankle sprain, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio told reporters Tuesday.

There is better news on Bullough, who Dantonio said is day-to-day. Bullough was listed on the team's depth chart for this week's game against Indiana, though he was not listed as a starter.

Bullough surprised by walking out of the tunnel in street clothes just prior to kickoff against Wisconsin. Big Ten Network reported during the broadcast that Bullough sustained his injury even prior to Michigan State's Week 3 win over Notre Dame and that it could keep him sidelined for multiple weeks.

It remains to be seen how that will play out, but certainly the Spartans could've used him against the Badgers, who behind a first-time starting quarterback in Alex Hornibrook had a stellar performance in a 30-6 win.

Bullough and Reschke have combined for 25 tackles and three tackles for loss, with Bullough playing in the first two games of the season and Reschke appearing in the first three. Reschke also has an interception and a forced fumble to his name.

Being without Reschke for a significant amount of time will be tough for the Spartans — Dantonio said Tuesday he's optimistic that the injury isn't season-ending — though that's made much tougher the longer Bullough stays on the sideline.

Plus, Michigan State is still working Ed Davis back into action. The senior had to wait until after the start of the season to learn if he'd receive an additional season of eligibility. Davis has played just very briefly this season, though he is listed on the depth chart. His return to form could be a big help, as Dantonio mentioned.