Detroit Lions (6-3)- 21
Chicago Bears (5-4)- 19
Line: DET -1.5
The Detroit Lions marched into Soldier Field to battle the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon and walked out with sole possession of first-place in the NFC North as quarterback Matthew Stafford hit Calvin Johnson for the game winning touchdown for a 21-19 victory.
Stafford connected with Johnson on a 14-yard touchdown with 2:22 left in the fourth quarter to help the Lions (6-3) defeat their division rivals and take over first-place.
Both Johnson and Stafford read the Chicago defense and knew exactly what to do to find the end zone for six points.
“I knew immediately that one of us on the outside was going to get it,” Johnson said. “So I just wanted to work , be patient and he threw a great ball.”
Detroit’s Reggie Bush also had a big day rushing for 105 yards on 14 carries as the Lions swept the season series against Chicago (5-4) for the first time since the 2007 season.
This is the first time since Week 5 of the 2005 season that the Lions have been all alone in first in the NFC North, according to STATS.
“We came out with a victory on the road against a really tough team,” Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said. “It was a hard-fought win. Proud of the players, but that’s the only thing that means (anything) today.
“I mean first place, you don’t get any prizes for first place there nine games into the season.”
With two touchdown catches on the afternoon, Calvin Johnson set the Detroit franchise touchdown record with 63 for his career.
“To be part of history for the Lions, that’s a big deal,” Johnson said.
Chicago’s Jay Cutler returned to action for the first time since suffering a groin injury last month and was hobbled by an ankle injury in the second quarter that seemed to worsen as the game went on.
Cutler suffered the ankle injury on the same leg as his groin injury which caused him to play in a great deal of pain throughout the game.
“It held up OK. It’s all the same leg so I think I think that was the problem,” said Cutler, referring to the groin and ankle injuries. “But with the groin, you take the ankle out of the equation and I would have been fine, I think.”
Chicago head coach Marc Trestman finally decided to pull Cutler in favor of Josh McCown before the Bears final drive.
“I didn’t want to take him out unless he felt he couldn’t do the job.” Trestman said. “It was, I thought, a very courageous performance throughout. Then at the end I took him out because I knew he would have to run around in the two-minute drill and that’s when we decided to put Josh in the game.”
McCown responded by leading the Bears downfield, throwing an 11-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall with 40 seconds left.
It all came down to a two-point conversion for the Bears to tie the game and possibly send it to overtime. The initial conversion failed but thanks to a roughing penalty, Chicago had another chance to tie.
The Bears went for a rushing attempt with Matt Forte, but the Lions’ Nick Fairley swallowed up Forte in the backfield to preserve the Detroit victory.
“I just figured it would be run or a play-action pass,” Fairley said. “I just scouted out the ball real good and was just happy I made the play.”
Matthew Stafford ended the afternoon 18 for 35 for 219 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter