National Football League
       === Bears hold on for win over Lions, but still miss playoffs ===
 Detroit,  MI (Sports Network) - The Chicago Bears did their part in an attempt
 to get into the playoffs, but it wasn't enough.
 Despite taking a 26-24 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday, Chicago will miss
 the  playoffs  for a second  straight season after  Minnesota took a 37-34 win
 over Green Bay on a last second field goal.
 "We realized going into the game that it was out of our hands after the game,"
 said  Chicago head coach  Lovie Smith. "We just needed to take care of what we
 could control and that was winning the game."
 Jay  Cutler  threw a touchdown  pass and was 18-for-31  with 257 yards for the
 Bears (10-6), who won their final two games of the season, but saw a promising
 7-1 start followed by a string of five losses in six games. Matt Forte ran for
 103  yards on 24  carries with a touchdown while Olindo Mare kicked four field
 "The  one statistic  that meant  something today  was the  four turnovers  our
 defense  grabbed,"  said Smith.  "And that's  what we've  been doing all year,
 taking the football away. Just an outstanding job from those guys."
 Matt  Stafford went  24-for-42  for 272  yards with  three  touchdowns and  an
 interception for the Lions (4-12), who completed a highly disappointing season
 with eight straight losses.
 "When  the story of the season is written it's going to say 4-12 and no one is
 happy  with  that," said  Detroit head coach  Jim Schwartz. "Players, coaches,
 front  office, ownership,  everybody. Everybody is in the same boat with that.
 No one is happy with this. I'm not proud of our record, but I am proud of this
 team and the way they fought all year long."
 Stafford  fell 33  yards short of 5,000  for the season, but he did become the
 first  quarterback to  throw  over 700  pass  attempts in  one  season, as  he
 finished the 2012 campaign with 727 attempts.
 Many of those passes went to superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who broke
 the  single-season receiving  yardage record last week. He posted five catches
 for  72  yards on Sunday for  a total of 122  catches for 1,964 yards in 2012,
 although he had just five touchdown catches on the year.
 Chicago  led 20-10 at the half, but Detroit's first touch of the third quarter
 bore  fruit and the  team was able to cut into its 10-point deficit. Thanks to
 catches  of 18 and 24 yards by Johnson, the Lions got into the red zone before
 Stafford capped the 9-play drive with a 10-yard scoring toss to Will Heller to
 make it a 20-17 game with 6:31 to play in the period.
 After  holding the  Bears to a brief  possession, Detroit got the ball back at
 its  own 8-yard line, but Stafford fumbled a handoff attempt to Mikel Leshoure
 and Chicago recovered at the 13.
 Detroit's  defense, though,  held tough and limited Chicago to a 28-yard field
 goal  from  Mare to make  it a  23-17 contest with  1:49 showing on the third-
 quarter clock.
 Chicago  ended the  third quarter with the ball and converted a 3rd-and-8 when
 Brandon  Marshall  caught a 10-yard  pass down to  the Detroit 2. However, two
 passes  fell incomplete  and Forte was unable  to punch it in, with Mare's 20-
 yard field goal with 10:47 to play giving Chicago a 26-17 lead.
 The  Lions responded  with a  scoring drive  to keep  it close.  On 3rd-and-5,
 Stafford  connected  with Tony Scheffler  for seven yards. Facing a 3rd-and-10
 later  on, Stafford scrambled but slid after getting just four yards. However,
 Lance Briggs hit him high and was whistled for unnecessary roughness to enable
 Detroit to keep the ball.
 After completions of 21 and 19 yards got the ball to the 9-yard line, Stafford
 hit  Brian Robiskie in  the end zone to make it a 26-24 game with 6:55 left on
 the clock.
 Chicago  was forced to  punt after a short drive, but Detroit also went three-
 and-out  with  the Bears getting  the ball  back at their  own 40 with 3:40 to
 play.  On  3rd-and-3, Cutler  ran for  19 yards  to move  the chains, and that
 essentially  killed  the game  since  Detroit  had  already  used two  of  its
 After  converting  another first  down at the  two-minute warning, Cutler went
 into the victory formation to end the game.
 After a quick three-and-out from the Lions to start the game, Chicago got into
 scoring  position on  its first  play,  as Cutler  threw deep  down the  right
 sideline and Alshon Jeffery came down with it for a 55-yard strike.
 The  play  moved the ball  to the Detroit  27, but the  team was facing a 3rd-
 and-13  after  a false  start call  and Cutler  fumbled the  ball on the play.
 Detroit's  Kyle Vanden  Bosch initially recovered the ball, but had it knocked
 out of his hands and Forte fell on it at midfield.
 Getting  the  ball back  at their  own 9, the  Lions got  a 28-yard catch from
 Scheffler  on  the first play and  Johnson followed with an 18-yard catch. The
 drive  stalled  at the Chicago 26,  however, and Jason Hanson kicked a 44-yard
 field goal for a 3-0 lead with 5:54 to play in the first quarter.
 It  didn't take long for the Bears to grab the lead, though. On the third play
 of the ensuing possession, Cutler dumped the ball out to his left for a screen
 pass  to Earl Bennett, who turned the corner and raced into the end zone for a
 60-yard score and a 7-3 edge.
 Detroit's  Joique Bell fumbled the ball as he was hit on the following kickoff
 and  the Bears  recovered at the Lions'  24, which led to a 33-yard field goal
 from Mare for a 10-3 lead with 2:59 to play in the first.
 With  just over four  minutes to play in the first half, Mare missed a 43-yard
 field  goal  attempt to the right,  but the Bears  got the ball back two plays
 later  as Israel  Idonije stripped  Stafford of  the ball  and Julius  Peppers
 recovered at the Detroit 10.
 After  a pass  interference call on third  down moved the ball to the 1, Forte
 punched it in for a 17-3 lead with 3:26 to go before halftime.
 Stafford  continued  to turn the ball  over, as he  was then picked off by Tim
 Jennings and Chicago took over at the Detroit 23. Chicago only moved one yard,
 however,  and  a 40-yard field goal  from Mare gave  the team a 20-3 lead with
 1:49 left in the half.
 The  Lions came  right back down the field, though, converting two third downs
 and  finishing  the drive when  Stafford lofted a pass  down the left side and
 Kris  Durham came down with it for a 25-yard score. The first touchdown of his
 career brought Detroit to within 20-10 going into the break.
                                   Game Notes
 Bears  linebacker  Brian Urlacher  missed  his  fourth  straight game  with  a
 strained  hamstring ... Detroit  went just 2-6 at home this season and was 0-6
 against  the NFC North ... Chicago was 5-3 on the road and 3-3 in the division
 ... Johnson had his NFL record of consecutive 100-yard receiving games snapped
 at  eight  ... Chicago has  won three  straight and nine  of its last 10 games
 against  the Lions ...  Chicago held the ball for a little over 34 minutes and
 totaled 389 yards, while the Lions managed 327 yards.
 12/30 19:50:25 ET