- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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What it means: The Lions, a team that has spent most of the past 30 or so years wandering in mediocrity or worse, are in first place in the NFC North. By themselves, barring a miracle comeback by Green Bay. In the second half of the season. For the first time in a long time.
And by beating the Bears in Chicago for the first time since 2007, the Lions now hold the tiebreaker over the Bears for any playoff implications and put themselves in even better position for a playoff berth should they end up not winning the division.
Detroit made it interesting, though, taking a lead late in the fourth quarter and then needing a two-point conversion stop at the end of the game to hold on. But a win is a win is a win, and the Lions are in first place in the division.
Stock Watch: Rising -- The play of defensive back Don Carey. Thrown into the game after Chicago picked on rookie Darius Slay early in the game -- the Bears went at him on two straight third-down conversions -- the Lions went to Carey and he played well, reading underneath routes and making two tackles. Detroit’s run defense is also rising. The Lions did a good job containing Matt Forte, holding him to 33 yards on 17 carries. And once again, Detroit’s playoff chances are rising. The Lions, with the victory and the Green Bay loss, are alone atop the NFC North. And Nick Fairley is on the rise. The large defensive tackle broke through the line, swallowed Forte on a two-point conversion and won the game for the Lions.
Return of the process: After a Matthew Stafford interception, Chicago had a first-and-goal to go. A holding call nullified a touchdown and set up a third down, when Jay Cutler hit Alshon Jeffery for what looked like a 14-yard touchdown catch. But in the same stadium where the Calvin Johnson complete the process rule cost Detroit a game in 2010, the Lions got one back in 2013. In the opposite end zone of the Johnson non-catch, Jeffery bobbled the ball after he hit the ground, costing the Bears a touchdown.
What’s next: Detroit stays on the road next week, heading to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers.