CHICAGO -- Chicago started quickly on offense before fizzling, but the Bears leaned once again on their ball hawking defense Monday night in besting the Detroit Lions 13-7 in a game that didn't seem as close as the final score indicated.
The Bears appeared poised to shut out the Lions for the first time since 2001 when D.J. Moore intercepted Matthew Stafford in the waning moments, but the quarterback came back to put a touchdown on the board with 30 seconds remaining on a 12-yard pass to Ryan Broyles.
Still, the victory marks Chicago's fourth in a row, the club's longest streak since running off five straight from Oct. 16 to Nov. 11 of 2011.
What it means: The Bears maintain their lead in a competitive NFC North where the top three teams are all within a victory of one another. Minnesota and Green Bay won their games on Sunday, so the Bears needed to capture a win to stay at the top. The Bears are one of just two NFL teams to have won four or more in a row this season. The current streak ranks as Chicago's longest since running off five in a row from Oct. 16 to Nov. 11 of 2011.
Cutler moved past Kramer in his 47th game as a Bear.
Sacks re-emerge for OL: Cutler suffered five sacks in the previous three games combined before taking five Monday night against the Lions. Chicago's performance on the offensive line didn't appear to be as subpar as it's been in previous outings, especially when considering the caliber of Detroit's defensive line.
Still, the sacks are a concern. Regardless of Cutler's tough-guy reputation we've all seen what can happen to this team without him in the lineup. Flashbacks of 2011 surfaced in the second quarter when Ndamukong Suh dropped Cutler for an 8-yard sack in the second quarter.
With 5:06 remaining in the opening half, Suh -- with his right arm and elbow pinned against Cutler's helmet -- slammed the quarterback backward to the ground for an 8-yard sack. As Cutler landed on the ground, his head bounced off the turf under the weight of Suh.
Cutler left the game, and returned after one play. Cutler was eventually taken to the locker room to be evaluated for what the team called a rib injury before returning in the second half.
Bears do a number on No. 1's: Chicago faced the third quarterback selected No. 1 overall in the draft on Monday night in Stafford, who in 2009 was the top pick. Like the rest of the No. 1's, the Bears locked Stafford down, limiting him to 194 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.
In the season opener, the Bears battled Indianapolis' Andrew Luck (top overall pick in 2012) and in Week 3, took on St. Louis' Sam Bradford (No. 1 in 2010). So far, the Bears have forced the three No. 1 overall picks into six interceptions and only one touchdown, while none have generated a passer rating of better than 59.8 while absorbing 12 sacks.
Chicago faces the last four No. 1 overall picks in its first four home games, wrapping up the top-pick tour with Carolina's Cam Newton. In all, the Bears take on five quarterbacks selected No. 1 overall, including a Week 11 matchup at San Francisco against 2005 top pick Alex Smith.
The Bears are now 3-0 this season against quarterbacks drafted No. 1 overall.
DL continues sacks: The Bears came into Monday's game tied for fourth in sacks (18), with the defensive line contributing 16 of them. The Bears added three more to the total against the Lions thanks to Julius Peppers (1 sack), Israel Idonije (1 sack) and Stephen Paea and rookie Shea McClellin, who each notched half a sack.
Peppers ended a two-game drought by generating his first sack since Sept. 23, when he was credited with a half sack against the St. Louis Rams. It's not like he'd gone anywhere. Offenses, as usual, have just continued to devote extra personnel toward neutralizing him.
What's helping Peppers however are the other players on the defensive line such as Henry Melton and Paea, who do such a solid job penetrating from the inside that teams are forced to account for them there. In addition to their youth and fresh legs due to an almost equal distribution of reps for the entire defensive line, McClellin and Corey Wootton add a relentless style which represents somewhat of a change of pace that has proven difficult for offensive tackles to adjust to.
What's next: The Bears take the day off Tuesday before returning Wednesday to Halas Hall, where they'll begin preparation for Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers on a short week.