NFL reports: Chicago Bears out of play-offs despite beating Detroit Lions
The Chicago Bears did their best to make the play-offs as they edged out the Detroit Lions 26-24.
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH
Last Updated: 31/12/12 2:50am
Chicago's win ended the reign of Super Bowl champions New York Giants who saw their season ended despite a 42-7 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
A 20-point burst in the first half put the Bears in total control in a 17-point lead, but the Lions came back strongly and closed to within two points with seven minutes left in the game.
It was a nervy end for Lovie Smith's Chicago who knew only a win would keep them alive, but Jay Cutler iced the game with a scrambling third-down run late in the game.
Cutler threw for 257 yards and a touchdown to Earl Bennett, while Matt Forte ran in a score and 103 yards and the Bears defence was at his fearsome best.
Matt Stafford did throw three touchdown passes and 272 yards, but he threw a crucial interception and Chicago also forced three fumbles for a four-turnover outing that was key to their success.
Kris Durham, Will Heller and Brian Robiskie caught touchdown grabs from Stafford as they looked top dump out their NFC North rivals, but they could not find that late breakthrough.
Calvin Johnson also came up just short as his 72 yards receiving was not enough to make him the first player to record 2,000 yards in a season, as the Lions made it eight defeats in a row to end a disappointing season.
For Chicago, their season came to an end as the Minnesota Vikings beat the Green Bay Packers, as both teams looked for an NFC wild card spot.