CHICAGO — There was a big gasp going through the stadium as Jay Cutler writhed in pain on the field. He got up and the defense provided a big lift.
Cutler returned after bruising his ribs, and Brian Urlacher made a key fumble recovery to help the Chicago Bears beat the Detroit Lions 13-7 on Monday night for their fourth straight win.
It was certainly not an easy night for the NFC North leaders, particularly their quarterback, but they came away with the win after a week off and possibly buried Detroit (2-4) in the process despite getting a major scare along the way.
That happened in the second quarter when Cutler was sacked by Ndamukong Suh and ultimately wound up going to the locker room to have his ribs examined.
"He's a tough guy," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "Most people thought Jay would get up. Unless it's a broken leg or something like that, he's going to get up. He is a tough guy. … That was a gutsy effort by him. He was in some pain, but he fought through it."
Cutler came back to start the second half and finished 16 of 31 for 150 yards and a touchdown. Although he said he was feeling "all right" afterward, he acknowledged he wasn't at full strength during the game.
"But we had to fight through it," he added.
They did just that, and with the defense locking down the Lions, the Bears (5-1) prevailed. It was a huge blow for last-place Detroit, a team many expected to contend for the division championship after making the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade.
The Lions simply never got in gear, and when they had chances, they blew them. The biggest came early in the third quarter, when Joique Bell fumbled at the goal line with the Bears leading 13-0.
Urlacher recovered and Chicago hung on from there, sending Detroit to its fourth loss in five games.
Brandon Marshall caught six passes for 81 yards and scored a touchdown on Chicago's first possession. Matt Forte ran for 96 yards, and with the defense doing its part again, Chicago never really was threatened in this one.
It was a rough night for the Lions, with Matthew Stafford going 28 of 46 for 261 yards after leading the late charge in last week's win over Philadelphia. Calvin Johnson had trouble shaking the Bears' Charles Tillman and finished with three catches for 34 yards. He dropped a deep pass over the middle on the game's first possession even though he was wide open.