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Bears remain in first place in NFC North with 13-7 win over Lions

Chicago Bears defense D.J. Moore Major Wright Peanut Tillman celebrate goaline stop fourth quarter as Bears defeated Detroit Lions 13-

Chicago Bears defense of D.J. Moore, Major Wright and Peanut Tillman celebrate a goaline stop in the fourth quarter as the Bears defeated the Detroit Lions 13- 7 Monday October 22, 2012 at Soldier Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: October 23, 2012 2:18PM

In one fell swoop with his mighty right arm, Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh erased a strong start by the Bears on ­Monday night.

Suh powered his way past the Bears’ offensive line, barely grabbed Jay Cutler with his left arm, then slammed the Bears ­quarterback hard into the Soldier Field turf.

Suh pounded his chest, then pretended to rip open his shirt, a la Superman.

The stadium went quiet, the glow of a 10-0 lead secondary to the team’s fallen quarterback.

After having his ribs evaluated, though, Cutler returned, and order was restored in a game the Bears won 13-7. They moved to 5-1 atop the NFC North.

The Bears shined in their last outing on Monday night, convincingly defeating the Cowboys in Dallas 34-18. But there were questions about their legitimacy after victories over the St. Louis Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars.

The win Monday night pushed up their stock and dropped the Lions to 2-4.

Cutler bolstered his toughness.

The defense reinforced its collective dominance.

And the special teams and offense flashed just enough potential to strike fear around the league.

After the defense forced a three-and-out to open the game, the offense needed less than three minutes and just six plays to move the ball 59 yards into the end zone, capped by a seven-yard score by receiver Brandon Marshall.

The drive was keyed by a 39-yard run by running back Matt Forte, who sprinted through a gaping hole created by left tackle J’Marcus Webb and right guard Lance Louis. On the touchdown, Cutler moved to his right, forced Lions linebacker Justin Durant to commit into the backfield, leaving Marshall wide open.

The offense did move the ball against a surprisingly stout — and much improved — Lions defense. But three drives stalled in the red zone. One of the three field-goal attempts by Robbie Gould was blocked by Lawrence Jackson midway through the second quarter.

But give the offense this much: It didn’t turn the ball over, and it did have some timely drives.

Once again, though, the Bears relied heavily on their defense to carry them.

Cutler did return, but he wasn’t able to get the offense rolling. He finished the game 16 of 31 for 150 yards with one touchdown and no turnovers.

After the Bears defense held, the offense went three-and-out to give the Lions the ball back with a little more than two minutes remaining.

Fortunately, Matthew Stafford had a rougher night — at least statistically — than Cutler.

He was 24 of 41 for 196 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. Late in the fourth quarter, he got his team to the Bears’ six-yard line. But he was flushed out of the pocket on fourth down, and he ended up on the turf, with grass filling his helmet.

The Lions broke the shutout bid when Ryan Broyles caught a 12-yard touchdown pass in the final minute.

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