DETROIT -- Maybe the Bears didn't deserve a playoff spot given their unimpressive 26-24 victory over the lowly Lions.
But they did do their part Sunday.
Unfortunately for them, the Green Bay Packers didn't do theirs later in the afternoon and were upset by the Minnesota Vikings 37-34, leaving coach Lovie Smith's crew without an invitation to the postseason party.
"We realized going into the game that it was out of our hands as far as what happened after our game," Smith said immediately after the Bears' victory.
"We just needed to take care of what we could control, and that was winning the game. We feel good about being 10-6, and hopefully we get in."
Because the Bears did not get in, Smith's future in Chicago is in doubt. He has led the Bears to the postseason just once in the past six seasons, and this season's miss was even tougher to swallow after the Bears started at 7-1.
Sunday the Bears got 4 take-aways, all of which gave their offense the ball inside the Lions' 25-yard line, and they still were barely able to survive against a team that finished the season with eight straight losses for a 4-12 record.
The Bears got a gutsy 103-yard rushing performance from Matt Forte, playing on a gimpy right ankle, but they almost allowed the slumping Lions to win for the first time since Nov. 4.
The nail-biting victory temporarily kept their playoff hopes alive -- but only for about 3 1/2 hours.
"I don't want to have to answer that," center Roberto Garza had said of the notion that the Bears would get knocked out of the playoffs after they won.
"Hopefully it all goes our way, but if it doesn't, it was a (heck) of a year. We were able to close it out on a good note."
With their backs to the wall, the Bears won their final two games against inferior opponents. But, because they had lost five of the previous six games, their fate was not in their own hands.
"We set a goal, and we were able to achieve it," defensive end Israel Idonije said of the final two games. "That was the focus. Coach talked about going into Arizona and getting the win. That was Step 1. Step 2 was coming here and getting this one."
But that's where the journey ended.
Even with advantageous field position at Ford Field after they got the ball following take-aways, the Bears' offense scored just 1 touchdown and settled for 3 field goals. …