Five Things We Learned: Bears-Lions

December, 5, 2010
12/05/10
6:43
PM ET
DETROIT -- Here are five things we learned following the Chicago Bears' 24-20 win over the Detroit Lions.

1. Cutler keeps rising to the occasion: Since the bye, few players have raised their level of play more than Jay Cutler, who posted a 117.0 quarterback rating versus Detroit. Cutler hit rock bottom in a loss to Washington on Oct. 24, but he has responded in incredible fashion. He continues to shown the ability to keep plays alive with his feet and check down to the open receiver. If Cutler keeps playing at this level -- and protecting the football -- the Bears will be tough to beat in the postseason. Cutler finally has his first winning season since high school; now it's time for him to accomplish another career first -- lead the Bears to a win(s) in the playoffs. At this rate, he might be able to pull that off.

[+] EnlargeEarl Bennett
AP Photo/Rick OsentoskiEarl Bennett had a career-high 104 yards receiving on seven catches against the Lions on Sunday.
2. Bennett is Mr. Clutch: Earl Bennett has become the Bears' preferred target on third down because has great hands, can read the defense and runs crisp routes. But the former 2008 third-round pick is also sneaky quick, and tough to bring down in the open field. Bennett wasn't even active Week 1, but yet he's second on the team in catches (39) and receiving yards (457). The numbers say Johnny Knox is the Bears best receiver, but is there a more productive player on the field than Bennett? Doubt it. When the Bears need a big catch, the ball is going to No. 80, and more times than not, he delivers.

3. Moore most pleasant surprise of year: Not only did D.J. Moore fail to get on the field in 2009, he wasn't even sure he was going to make the team in 2010. But Moore has a knack for making big plays, and the starting nickel back delivered a sack and tackle for a loss against the Lions. Sure, he looked bad trying to bring down Calvin Johnson at the end of the first half, but Moore always bounces back because he is supremely confident in his abilities. Moore successfully straddles the fence between confident and cocky, and has a very short memory when it comes to making a mistake or getting burned -- a prerequisite for any NFL defensive back. Although Moore isn't a big guy, he still tackles reasonably well and is always around the football. With his personality and skill level, Moore should be a fun guy to cover over the next several years.

4. The kickers salvaged special teams: It certainly wasn't a great day for the Bears' coverage units after Stephan Logan averaged 38.7 yards on three kickoff returns. But Robbie Gould and Brad Maynard held up their ends of the bargain. Gould booted a career long 54-yard field goal, and is now three of four from 50-plus yards this season. Maynard pinned the Lions inside the 20 on two of his three punts, and averaged 45 yards per kick. Both players hit a rough patch or so during the year, but come playoff time, the kicking game becomes increasingly important. The Bears have the luxury of two proven and dependable kickers -- to go along with flawless long-snapper Pat Mannelly -- and that could be the difference in a tightly contested postseason affair.

5. Suh is a force: If Ndamukong Suh stays healthy, he will be the premiere defensive tackle in the NFL for years to come. His ability to reach the quarterback from an interior defensive line position is amazing. But Suh doesn't just reach the quarterback, he attacks them with extreme force. That hit on Cutler was awesome -- and clean, in my opinion -- and showed you the strength and violence Suh puts behind his hits. Suh may toil in NFL purgatory (Detroit) for much of his career, but even if he keeps playing for bad Lions teams, I'll still enjoy watching him face the Bears twice a year. Why? Because I'm a football fan, and Suh is turning into a great football player.

Jeff Dickerson | email

Chicago Bears beat reporter
Dickerson has been the Bears beat reporter for ESPN Chicago since 2004. He also hosts weeknight radio shows on ESPN 1000.

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