The Detroit Lions took sole possession of first place atop the NFC North standings with their 21-19 over the Chicago Bears on Sunday, coupled with a Green Bay Packers loss. With both the Bears and the Packers struggling with quarterback injuries, the Lions appear to be in good shape to win their first division title since 1993. The Lions also notched their first regular season sweep of the Bears since 2007.
That's not to say the victory was easy. The Lions had to scrap for the 2-point victory despite Jay Cutler's increasing ineffectiveness throughout the game. Cutler played his first game back after a quick recovery from a groin injury. His play deteriorated after a hot start, and he was pulled in favor of Josh McCown late. After the game, Bears blog Windy City Gridiron asked the question: Shoulder Cutler have played?
So that naturally begs the question - should Cutler have played yesterday? His second half will probably say no, and his first half will probably say yes. There really isn't a way to reconcile it. If you say no, he wouldn't have thrown that first touchdown, because you wouldn't have had him in. Maybe Josh McCown comes in and throws well like he did on the final drive when the quarterback actually needs to run to the line, and that touchdown is a play Cutler probably wasn't going to make with his hampered mobility. Maybe he doesn't play that well. Who knows. The point is, you just never know.
Lions fans, meanwhile, are ecstatic to have come out on the good end of a hard-fought game. The Lions have a rough history as an NFL franchise, a history that has been pockmarked by agonizingly close losses in recent seasons. Sean Yuille at Lions blog Pride Of Detroit says these aren't the "same 'ol Lions," however:
When David Akers missed a 45-yard field goal that would have extended the Lions' 1-point lead, it really seemed like they were trying to give this game away. Just a possession earlier, Matthew Stafford got picked off and nearly set up a go-ahead touchdown for the Bears. However, Chicago had to settle for a field goal, and the Lions ultimately came up with the touchdown response they needed, as well as the defensive stop they needed on the late 2-point conversion. The Lions shot themselves in the foot quite a bit on Sunday, but the fact that they won anyway was the opposite of "same ol' Lions."