The Bears went into Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions, in Soldier Field, with a chance to take a major step toward the playoffs. A win would put them on top of the NFC North by a game, the Lions (6-3) wouldn’t hold the important head-to-head tiebreaker and at the very least the Bears would be tied for the second-best record in the NFC regardless of division standing.
That all vanished with a succession of poor plays and decisions, leaving the Bears (5-4) in the unenviable position of trying to move up in the standings without their No. 1 quarterback and No. 1 defensive back. Jay Cutler (high-ankle sprain) and Charles Tillman (triceps) went down and are out for extended periods, Tillman for the remainder of the regular season.
The remaining Bears schedule has Green Bay as the only opponent with a mark better than .500 but the Bears’ next three opponents (Baltimore, St. Louis, Minnesota) all posted wins this weekend.
1. Cincinnati Bengals (6-4) W 24-21
Bears were being run out 21-10 and down 325-97 in yardage midway through the third quarter. Cutler takes control of fourth quarter and a fourth-down Matt Forte run sets up a winning Brandon Marshall touchdown pass.
2. Minnesota Vikings (2-7) W 31-30
Cutler directs second straight fourth-quarter comeback, finishing with a touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett as defense holds Adrian Peterson to 100 yards but zero TDs or breakaways.
3. @ Pittsburgh Steelers (3-6) 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. Cutler goes for controlled offense, with zero interceptions in smart win over difficult defense.
4. @ Detroit Lions (6-3) L 40-32
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 (7-2) 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 (3-6) W 27-21
Brandon Jacobs runs for 106 yards but Cutler puts up fifth 90-plus passer rating with two touchdown passes to Marshall as Eli Manning throws three picks, one for a pick-six.
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7. @ Washington Redskins (3-6) L 45-41
Losing the game was overshadowed by groin injury to Cutler and continuing woes on defense (499 yards allowed).
8. Bye Week
9. @ Green Bay Packers (5-4) W 27-20
Josh McCown takes over for an injured 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 (6-3) L 21-19
Cutler tries to return from groin tear but suffers a high-ankle sprain that’ll have him down several weeks. McCown directs touchdown drive that falls short when Bears can’t convert on two two-point tries.
11. Baltimore Ravens (4-5) Sun., Nov. 17, noon*
Bizarre overtime win vs. Cincinnati after failing to defend a Hail Mary ends a three-game slide but Joe Flacco is sacked five times and Ravens net just 189 yards.
12. @ St. Louis Rams (4-6) Sun., Nov. 24, noon*
Rams about-face after three straight losses to thrash Andrew Luck and Indianapolis. Luck throws four picks and Rams defense holds Colts to 18 yards on 14 rush attempts.
13. @ Minnesota Vikings (2-7) Sun., Dec. 1, noon*
More NFC North QB issues as Christian Ponder is hurt but Vikings win with Peterson rushing for just 75 yards against Washington.
14. Dallas Cowboys (5-5) Mon., Dec. 9, 7:40 p.m.
Drew Brees and New Orleans humiliate Cowboys defense with NFL-record 40 first downs and 625 total yards, 242 on the ground.
15. @ Cleveland Browns (4-5) Sun., Dec. 15, noon*
16. @ Philadelphia Eagles (5-5) Sun., Dec. 22, noon*
Beating the Packers in Green Bay is an accomplishment even without Rodgers, Clay Matthews and others. Nick Foles continues to shine (three TDs) and LeSean McCoy rushes for 155 yards.
17. Green Bay Packers (5-4) Sun., Dec. 29, noon*
Seneca Wallace follows Rodgers on the injury report and now the Packers face the Giants on the road after losing their second straight.
* Subject to flex scheduling.