By Royce Strahan
Defender Contributing Reporter
The Chicago Bears are now on a roll after defeating the Detroit Lions 13-7 in a Monday Night Football game, improving their record to 5-1 and sustaining their lead atop the NFC North.
The Bears will now look to their matchup Sunday against the struggling Carolina Panthers at Soldier after putting together an impressive performance that almost led to their first home shutout of the Lions since a 3-0 victory in 1962 at Wrigley Field.
Jay Cutler looked like the tough quarterback we hoped he would be when traded to the Bears in 2009, making plays that won’t all show up in the stats sheet. Cutler threw for 150 yards and one touchdown on a 16 of 31 performance, but also got banged up along the way, enduring a hard hit from Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
“I feel all right, right now,” Cutler said after the game. “Later in the week it might feel different, but I feel all right now.”
Despite Cutler possibly suffering from the rib injury later in the week, coach Lovie Smith is confident that his quarterback will rebound after he was taken out of the game for one play to be evaluated.
“He’s a tough guy,” Smith said about Cutler, adding that he didn’t think the hit by Suh was dirty since Cutler was out of the pocket.
The Bears are now 9-2 under Lovie Smith on Monday Night Football games and are looking like a more cohesive unit with the defense leading the way.
“We’re 5-1, that’s the position we wanted to be in,” coach Lovie Smith said. “It’s always special to play on ‘Monday Night Football.’ We’ve got a short week, and we’ll start getting ready for Carolina.”
Matt Forte rushed for 96 yards on 22 attempts and Brandon Marshall had six receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown off a 7-yard pass from Jay Cutler in the first quarter.
After field goals from Robbie Gould in the first and third quarter, the Bears built a lead large enough to pick up the win. Gould, however, did have a 47-yard field goal attempt blocked in the second quarter by defensive end Lawrence Jackson, which was his first miss of the year.
The Bears defense turned in another impressive performance, limiting Matthew Stafford to only a last second touchdown to wide receiver Ryan Broyles. Stafford also threw an interception to Bears safety D.J. Moore.
The Lions Pro Bowl wide receiver Calvin Johnson was also shutdown in the game by Bears cornerback Charles Tillman, only being allowed three receptions for 34 yards.
“Calvin is one of the best players in the league,” Smith said. “It’s hard for Detroit to win games without him being productive. That’s why you need a guy like Charles Tillman that can match up on him. It made them go look at other ways to get the ball down field. That’s going to lead up to wins most of the time, when we can get that kind of effort out of Charles.”
Detroit wide receiver Nate Burleson left the game in the third quarter after being tackled on a 16-yard reception and was later determined to have a broken leg, which ends the season for the 31 year old.
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