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Tuesday, October 23, 2012
5 Things We Learned: Bears 13, Lions 7

By Jeff Dickerson

Tillman
Charles Tillman's play has been one of the brightest spots for the Bears' defense.
CHICAGO -- Here are five things we learned in the Bears' 13-7 win over the Detroit Lions:

1. It's a three-team race in the NFC North: Honestly, the Lions are lucky to be 2-4. Bad teams find a way to lose games and Detroit looks like a bad team. The Lions killed themselves on Monday night with a muffed punt, a fumble on the goal line, a red zone interception and a ton of dropped passes. Sorry, right now it appears the Bears need to worry about Green Bay and Minnesota, not Detroit. As for the Bears, their future appears bright with winnable games coming up against Carolina and Tennessee before a tough stretch versus Houston, San Francisco, the Vikings, Minnesota again and Green Bay. The Bears take on the Lions one more time in the regular season on Dec. 30 at Ford Field, but probably only one team that day will be playing for anything that day. And if Monday night is any indication, it won't be Detroit.

2. Jay Cutler took Ndamukong Suh's best shot and got up: Cutler is far from a perfect quarterback. He still does certain things that drive you crazy. But the whole concept of questioning his toughness is so silly. It was silly back in the 2010 NFC Championship Game, and it's even sillier now. If you've watched Cutler throughout his career, you know he's been extremely durable despite taking a massive amount of hits here in Chicago. None were bigger than the one Suh laid on him in the second quarter. It looked for a second like Suh broke Cutler in half. But after a minute or so, Cutler got up and jogged off the field, returned the next play, then returned to start the second half and finish the game. That's the definition of toughness. If you don't believe me, watch the replay of the hit again.

3. Charles Tillman deserves a game ball: What an effort by Charles Tillman on Calvin Johnson. Tillman played like the Pro Bowler he is by holding perhaps the game's best receiver to three catches for 34 yards on 11 targets. The veteran defender just keeps getting better with age. It's truly remarkable. Of all the great stories on defense this year, and there have been plenty, Tillman's performance has to rank up there as one of the best. How about this Tillman-esque stat line: seven tackles, two passes defended and two forced fumbles. Just another day at the office for one of the top defensive backs in Bears' history, and the No. 1 DB since Lovie Smith arrived in 2004.

4. Brian Urlacher is hitting his stride: The extra week off appears to have been great for Urlacher who recorded seven tackles, one tackle for a loss, two passes breakups and one fumble recovery, according to the official NFL stats distributed in the press box. Remember, Urlacher had only three tackles versus Jacksonville, just the seventh time in his career he had three or fewer tackles. But Urlacher looked like a different guy against Detroit, and seemed to be moving exceptionally well, which is a great sign for the Bears. Think of how well the defense was playing before Urlacher got in his groove. A healthier No. 54 should make the Bears defense even scarier. Imagine that for a second.

5. Bears special teams aren't so special: Not a good night for the Bears special teams, even though they did recover a fumble on a muffed Lions punt. Devin Hester doesn't seem to have a good feel in the return game where he made a couple questionable decisions before being spelled by Earl Bennett and Eric Weems. There were also a couple of penalties called on Dave Toub's unit, generally considered one of the top special teams outfits in the league. Punter Adam Podlesh also didn't quite seem to strike the ball as well as he can, plus the Bears had a field goal blocked. One of the bright spots was the play of Zack Bowman who filled in for the injured Sherrick McManis, but the Bears special teams left plenty of room for improvement moving forward.