DETROIT Now all the Bears can do is wait.
They took care of business, more or less, beating the Detroit Lions 26-24 despite repeated failures on offense, a few costly breakdowns on defense and little help on special teams. The win pushed their record to 10-6 and into position for hoping that the Green Bay Packers can dispatch the Minnesota Vikings.
It appeared to have removed some but not all doubt that Lovie Smith will return as coach in 2013. Teams typically do not fire coaches after 10-6 seasons, and usually not ones who are 18 games over .500 as Smith is for his tenure.
GM Phil Emery was complimentary of Smith during an appearance on the WBBM pre-game programming and was seen chatting casually with Smith prior to the game at Ford Field.
Emery said that evaluations are based on a coachs or players whole body of work, not one game. Smith is 18 games over .500 for his career and has had only one of nine seasons with fewer than seven wins.
But the goal of the organization is to win championships, which begins with making the playoffs. Missing the playoffs for five of the six years since the 2006 Super Bowl appearance will work against Smith getting at least the final year of his contract.
A Green Bay win at Minnesota would place the Bears in the No. 6 slot in the NFC playoffs and send them to either San Francisco or Seattle depending upon the outcomes of late games, Arizona at the 49ers and St. Louis visiting the Seahawks.
Players pulled up chairs amphitheater-style in the locker room to watch the early stages of the Green Bay game. They were pleased with their handling of Detroit (4-12) but that was not the full day.
Ill feel happy, center Roberto Garza said in the minutes after the Bears win, in about three hours.