DETROIT (DETROIT FREE PRESS) - The Detroit Lions closed their disappointing 2012 season with a whimper today, committing four turnovers to lose their eighth straight game, 26-24 to the Bears, at Ford Field.
After starting the year with Super Bowl aspirations, the Lions finished 4-12, tied for the worst record in the NFC.
They didn't win an NFC North game and got outscored, 95-54, in their final three games.
While the Bears (10-6) kept alive their playoff hopes with the win - they need a loss or tie by the Vikings later today to earn the NFC's final wild-card spot - the Lions face an uncertain future.
ESPN reported Sunday that the Ford family will review head coach Jim Schwartz's job status, which has long been thought to be safe, after the season, and CBS Sports reported that the Lions could possibly change general managers.
The Lions declined comment about the ESPN report before the game, and general manager Martin Mayhew said he'd talk to reporters on Wednesday.
Today's loss was more of the same for a Lions team that's struggled to hold onto the ball all season and too often gave its opponents favorable field position.
New kick returner Joique Bell fumbled a first-quarter kick that led to an Olindo Mare field goal, Matthew Stafford lost a fumble and threw an interception, and Mikel Leshoure fumbled for the second straight week and fourth time this year in the third quarter.
The Bears, who entered today with a league-leading 40 takeaways, capitalized for 16 points Sunday, though the Lions held them to three field goals on short fields.
With Chicago ahead, 10-3, late in the second quarter, defensive lineman Israel Idonije split blocks by Dominic Raiola and Stephen Peterman and swatted the ball out of Stafford's hands as he dropped back to pass.
Julius Peppers fell on the fumble, and after a third-and-4 pass interference penalty on Don Carey, Matt Forte scored on a 1-yard run.
The Bears tacked on a 40-yard field goal with 1:49 left in the first half after a Stafford interception, but Stafford drove the Lions 80 yards in 12 plays for a life-infusing touchdown just before the half.
Stafford led two more second-half touchdown drives, but the Lions went three-and-out after taking over at their own 9-yard line with 4:38 to play and couldn't get the ball back on defense.
Stafford finished 24 of 42 passing for 272 yards, and just missed out on 5,000 yards for the season. He finished with 4,967.
Calvin Johnson, who broke Jerry Rice's single-season receiving record in last week's loss to the Atlanta Falcons, had five catches for 72 yards Sunday and fell 36 yards shy of 2,000 on the year.
Forte finished with 24 carries for 103 yards for the Bears, Jay Cutler was 18 of 31 passing for 257 yards, and Earl Bennett had five catches for 109 yards and a 60-yard touchdown.
Contact Dave Birkett: 313-222-2037 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter@davebirkett.