Chicago remains in contention for an NFC wild card berth, and the defending Super Bowl champion Giants have been eliminated, after the Bears beat the Lions 26-24 on Sunday in Detroit.
The Bears’ victory keeps them alive heading into this afternoon’s Packers-Vikings game, which the Bears now need the Packers to win. If Green Bay wins, the Bears are the NFC’s sixth seed. If Minnesota wins, the Vikings are the NFC’s sixth seed.
Sunday’s win wasn’t easy for Chicago: Although the Bears jumped out to an early 20-3 lead, the Lions came back in it and cut the deficit to 26-24 with seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. However, the Lions’ offense went three-and-out when they got the ball back while down two in the fourth, then the Lions’ defense failed to stop the Bears from running out the clock.
Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, who entered the game with an NFL-record 1,892 receiving yards this season, finished the game with 72 yards, meaning he fell short of 2,000 by 36. Johnson’s NFL record streak of eight consecutive 100-yard receiving games also comes to an end. Bears cornerback Charles Tillman did excellent work against Johnson in both of this season’s Bears-Lions games: Johnson averaged 53 yards in the Lions’ two games against the Bears, while averaging 133 yards a game in the Lions’ other 14 games.
For the Bears, today’s solid effort gives them a good chance of reaching the postseason, and also gives coach Lovie Smith a good chance of saving his job. For the Lions, a disappointing season has come to an end — a season when Johnson was fantastic, but there was little else to celebrate.