Backed by four touchdown passes from Jay Cutler, the second time in two weeks the former Pro Bowler tossed a quartet of scores, the Chicago Bears tamed the Detroit Lions 37-23 on Sunday to complete the season sweep.
The Bears (7-9) won the final two games of the season and three of the first four. The problem: Chicago lost eight of 10 games between its strong start and finish.
Detroit (2-14) was bad again after becoming the NFL's first team to finish 0-16 last season.
Cutler's 1-yard pass to a wide-open Desmond Clark gave Chicago a 27-20 lead midway through the fourth quarter. Daunte Culpepper overthrew Calvin Johnson on the ensuing drive, and Detroit settled for a field goal and a four-point deficit.
The Bears then sealed the victory with Cutler's second touchdown pass to Devin Aromashodu.
Cutler was 22 of 36 for 276 yards and didn't throw an interception against Detroit for the second time this season and for the fourth game this season.
His arrival in the offseason trade with Denver generated hope for success, but his NFL-high 26 interceptions led to a lackluster season for Chicago and embattled coach Lovie Smith.
Cutler had 16 TDs and just three interceptions in Chicago's seven wins. In its nine losses, he had 11 TDs and 23 interceptions.
Matt Forte ran for 100 yards for just the second time this season, and, perhaps not coincidentally, both games were against the lowly Lions.
Greg Olsen had five receptions for a career-high 94 yards, breaking his previous mark that was set against Detroit last season, and his TD catch put Chicago ahead with 11 seconds left in the first half.
Culpepper, perhaps auditioning for a job elsewhere next season, was 23 of 34 for 262 yards with two scores and an interception in what was probably his best performance of a disappointing season as Matthew Stafford's backup.
Johnson had six catches for 86 yards and a score that tied the game 20-20 early in the first quarter. Bryant Johnson's TD catch gave the Lions a 10-6 lead in the second quarter.
The Lions will have the No. 2 pick overall in the NFL Draft because they finished ahead of only St. Louis, who avoided joining Detroit's dubious distinction with a win in the Motor City this season.
Jim Schwartz will be back for a second season to sort through the mess he inherited.
Smith might not get the same chance in Chicago after failing to advance to the playoffs for the third straight season.
When the Bears hit rock bottom this season Dec. 20 against the Baltimore Ravens, where they lost for the eighth time in 10 weeks, general manager Jerry Angelo shot down a report indicating Smith would be back for a seventh season.
The Bears owe Smith $11 million for the next two seasons, and Angelo insisted money won't affect the decision on Smith's future. Smith is 52-44 in the regular season and 2-2 in the playoffs, including a Super Bowl run three years ago.
Agree? Disagree? Let your voice be heard on our message board RIGHT HERE.
Bear Report: The only publication exclusively dedicated to your Chicago Bears.
Cutler Fires Four More Scores in '09 Finale
Bear Report Top Stories
Alshon Jeffery questionable for BearsAlshon Jeffery is questionable, Jay Cutler is doubtful, plus the rest of the Chicago Bears injury report for Sunday's matchup against the Dallas Cowboys.
Bear ReportFriday at 11:31 AM
What to Watch for from the Bears in Week 3The five most important storylines for the Chicago Bears when they take on the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football, including an unreliable offensive line, a new quarterback…
Bear ReportFriday at 10:46 AM
Chicago Bears Stat Pack: Week 3Our Week 3 Stat Pack looks at the struggles of the Chicago Bears run game, and the offense in general, as well as some positive play from the secondary and much more.
Bear ReportFriday at 8:54 AM
Bear Report Podcast: Week 3Jeremy Stoltz and Aaron Leming discuss the Chicago Bears' Week 2 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the team's many injuries, the run game, Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer and more, as well…
Bear ReportFriday at 8:49 AM