D.J. Moore sacks Drew Stanton in the fourth quarter. The Bears held the Lions to 49 total yards in the second half after coach Lovie Smith chewed out the defense.
DETROIT -- If the sign of a good team is that it wins games it probably shouldn't win, then we have another reason to call the Bears a good team.
Had their 24-20 victory over the Lions on Sunday been played three weeks ago, I would have rolled my eyes in print. What value is there in an ugly victory over a bad team that was playing its third-string quarterback-
Today, I shrug in print. These are the 2010 Bears, and you can either sit back and enjoy the show or you can go crazy.
I recommend choosing sanity.
There's no point in trying to parse the story the Bears are writing this season. They've won five games in a row, have a 9-3 record and lead the NFC North by a game.
They played down to the opposition Sunday, especially on defense, and they ended up winning.
A good week for a letdown
They gave up a 45-yard run and a 46-yard touchdown pass play in succession just before halftime, and they ended up winning.
They had trouble stopping Detroit's kickoff returns, and they ended up winning.
''We're fortunate to get out of here with a win,'' said defensive end Julius Peppers, speaking the truth but an immaterial truth. They won.
You are absolutely correct if you believe the Bears will never get away with this kind of performance against New England next week. But I think we can all agree that Week 13 hasn't suddenly morphed into Week 14, unless there's some sort of time-travel thing going on that I don't know about. Next week is next week.
If the Bears were going to have a letdown after the big victory over Philadelphia last week, this is the kind of letdown to have. Better an ugly victory over the Lions than a bad loss to New England. A bad loss to New England is still entirely possible, of course, but the idea is that the Bears got the bad one out of their system.
That's the idea, at least.
If this had been three weeks ago, I would have been writing about how lucky the Bears were to be facing quarterback Drew Stanton, who was filling in for the injured Shaun Hill, who had taken over the for injured Matthew Stafford.
But Stanton went toe to toe with Jay Cutler on Sunday, and the Bears defense bent and broke.
It gave up 253 yards of total offense in the first half, a stunning development for a unit that has been one of the best in the league. Was the defense flat- Overconfident- Out of sync- Comatose-
Don't forget ''embarrassed.''
''We weren't doing anything right,'' said defensive back D.J. Moore, who got stiff-armed into the suburbs by Calvin Johnson on the touchdown near the end of the half.
Moore of the same good stuff
But it was Moore, with half a sack and a key pass defense in the second half, who led the way for the Bears. Admit it: You wouldn't know him if he walked past you on Michigan Avenue. But you might want to study his face. The guy keeps making big plays.
How did he and the Bears resurrect themselves Sunday-
Coach Lovie Smith implied he had a few choice words for the defense at halftime.
''Upset, yeah, you could say that,'' he said.
But that's not what the players heard.
''It was a sense of calm, but we all knew we had to have a sense of urgency on the field when we came back out,'' Peppers said.
''There wasn't a lot of yelling at halftime, a lot of screaming,'' Brian Urlacher said. ''Just do your job.''
The biggest moment of the game was not the bogus unnecessary roughness penalty on Detroit's Ndamukong Suh after his hit on Cutler in the fourth quarter. Nor was it the Bears' stop of the Lions on fourth-and-one near midfield earlier in the fourth.
It was the way the defense responded after Cutler fumbled on his own 9-yard-line at the start of the second half. The Lions ended up settling for a 25-yard field goal, and what easily could have been a 24-14 Detroit lead was instead a 20-14 Detroit lead.
''It was huge,'' Smith said of the defensive stand.
The wins just keep on coming
The head coach was upset with his team's tackling in the first half, but don't you lose the high ground on that subject when your whole defensive philosophy centers on stripping the ball- It's hard to wrap up a ball carrier while trying to gouge the ball out of his arms.
But, again, the Bears seem to have this winning thing figured out. We've wasted a lot of energy trying to explain away this season. No, they're not going to win the Super Bowl with an effort like Sunday's. They probably won't win the Super Bowl with their best effort.
But they do keep winning.
''I say it every week: There are no easy games,'' Urlacher said. ''There are no bye weeks. If you don't prepare and don't play well, you're not going to win.''
Sunday proved Urlacher wrong. If you play an inferior opponent and don't play well, you can still win. And you know what- There's no need to apologize for it anymore.