Getting a second straight win for the first time since their 3-0 start was a critical step for the Bears toward remaining relevant in the NFC North.
The second step came Monday night in Detroit as the Lions lost their second straight, leaving them at 7-7 and looking up at the Bears, who moved to 8-6 with their win over the Cleveland Browns.
Another “second:” The Lions lost a fourth-quarter lead for the second straight game, at Philadelphia in the snow a week ago and this time at home to the Baltimore Ravens.
If the Bears win out, at Philadelphia next Sunday night and at Soldier Field the last Sunday of the season against the Green Bay Packers, they win the NFC North and are assured at least one home playoff game.
Week, opponent, day/date/time
1. Cincinnati Bengals (9-5), W, 24-21
Bears were being run out 21-10 and down 325-97 in yardage midway through the third quarter. Jay Cutler takes control of fourth quarter, and fourth-down Matt Forte run sets up winning Brandon Marshall touchdown pass.
2. Minnesota Vikings (4-9-1), W, 31-30
Jay Cutler directs second straight fourth-quarter comeback, finishing with touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett as defense “holds” Adrian Peterson to 100 yards but zero touchdowns or breakaways.
3. at Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8), W, 40-23
A 24-3 lead erodes to 27-23 before offense rallies to hold off a reeling Steelers team done in by five turnovers vs. no takeaways. Jay Cutler goes for controlled offense, with zero interceptions in smart win over difficult “D.”
4. at Detroit Lions (7-7), L, 40-32
Jay Cutler throws three interceptions and loses a fumble for a Detroit touchdown as the Lions score 27 points in the second quarter, 24 unanswered, as offense, defense and special teams all contribute to loss.
5. New Orleans Saints (10-4), L, 26-18
New Orleans remains the only undefeated NFC team after Bears' early mistakes (three sacks in the first 12 plays, two fumbles in the first four) undercut any chance to catch a good conference rival.
6. New York Giants (5-9), W, 27-21
Brandon Jacobs runs for 106 yards, but Jay Cutler puts up fifth 90-plus passer rating with 2 touchdown passes to Brandon Marshall as Eli Manning throws three picks, one for a pick-six.
7. at Washington Redskins (3-11), L, 45-41
Losing the game was overshadowed by groin injury to Jay Cutler and continuing woes on defense (499 yards allowed).
8. OFF WEEK
[RELATED: Briggs to practice; back for Philadelphia?]
9. at Green Bay Packers (7-6-1), W, 27-20
Josh McCown takes over for injured Jay Cutler and guides offense to 442 yards and five scoring possessions out of 11. Aaron Rodgers suffers broken collarbone early, and Packers can’t win despite 199 rushing yards.
10. Detroit Lions (7-7), L, 21-19
Jay Cutler tries to return from groin tear but suffers a high-ankle sprain that’ll have him down several weeks. Charles Tillman to IR with a triceps injury. Josh McCown directs touchdown drive that falls short when Bears can’t convert on two two-point tries.
11. Baltimore Ravens (8-6), W, 23-20 (OT)
Offense overcomes storm onslaught and hour-and-53-minute interruption, with Josh McCown continuing to play turnover-free, and defense is able to make crucial stops late. Robbie Gould’s 38-yard field goal provides the game-winner.
12. at St. Louis Rams (6-8), L, 42-21
Defense gives up 258 rushing yards, and offense ends a seven-minute drive with no points by failing to punch in after first-and-goal at Rams 4, and needing three minutes to score from the St. Louis 1.
13. at Minnesota Vikings (4-9-1), L, 23-20 (OT)
Robbie Gould misses field goal from 47 yards after coach Marc Trestman opts to kick on second down vs. risking trying to move closer. Alshon Jeffery nets 249 receiving yards, but Adrian Peterson passes 10,000 for his career with 211 on 35 carries.
14. Dallas Cowboys (7-7), W, 45-28
Offense scores on all eight possessions with Josh McCown keeping quarterback controversy going with 346 passing yards, four passing touchdowns and a rushing one with a leap over would-be tacklers.
15. at Cleveland Browns (4-10), W, 38-31
The return of Jay Cutler as starter gets off to a shaky beginning with two first-half interceptions, then finishes with a fourth quarter of 21 points to save the season for another week.
16. at Philadelphia Eagles (7-6), Sun., Dec. 22, 7:30 p.m.
Eagles defense is shredded by a Vikings offense that is without Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart and living on the arm of Matt Cassel, plus third-stringer Matt Asiata scoring three rushing touchdowns.
17. Green Bay Packers (7-6-1), Sun., Dec. 29, noon
Aaron who? Matt Flynn produces a second straight win to keep Packers within reach of Bears and Lions by rallying from a 26-3 hole against inept Jason Garrett, Tony Romo and the brain-light Cowboys.