GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Now the Chicago Bears are in the odd position of cheering on the Green Bay Packers, their age-old nemesis.
The Bears kept their playoff hopes alive by beating the Arizona Cardinals 28-13 on Sunday. To earn a wild-card spot, they need to win at Detroit in their regular-season finale and have the Packers beat the Minnesota Vikings.
" (The Packers) put up 55 points today," Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler said, "so hopefully (Aaron) Rodgers can put on another show next week."
After losing five of six, the Bears (9-6) lost control of their playoff fate and need some help.
First, though, they had to beat the punchless Cardinals, and they did it with a defense that returned to the opportunistic ways that had helped the team race to a 7-1 start to the season.
Charles Tillman returned an interception 10 yards for a score and Zack Bowman returned a fumble 1 yard for another TD.
"It was the third pick Tillman has brought back for a touchdown this season and the eighth overall by Chicago, one shy of the NFL record. Julius Peppers had three of the Bears' four sacks.
"Defensively we asked them to take over and play the way they have been capable of doing," Chicago coach Lovie Smith said. "Of course, how we played early, taking the ball away specifically, is what I am talking about. It was an added bonus getting a couple of scores. "
A gigantic contingent of Bears fans cheered on their team.
"The Chicago fan support was amazing out there," Tillman said. "It felt like a home game."
Brandon Marshall caught six passes for 68 yards and a TD, breaking the Bears' franchise record for yards receiving in a season in the process. But, especially after calling out his team to show accountability, Marshall was highly critical of his performance.
"I stunk the field up," he said. "Throwing around that word accountability, I can't do that, especially in this situation. For the defense to step up and other guys in offense to step up, that says a lot. I am proud that guys were able to make big plays, huge plays. Now we need to go out next weekend and control what we can control."
Chicago snapped a three-game losing streak and won for just the second time in seven tries. The Cardinals (5-10) lost for the 10th time in 11 games.
"I can't even state how big this is. It is either win or you are done," Peppers said. "We can't control what happens next week with other teams, but if we don't win today, we don't have a shot."
Matt Forte gained 88 yards in 12 carries, including a 4-yard TD run for Chicago before aggravating a right ankle injury and leaving early in the second half.
Cutler completed just one of his first 11 passes, then went 5 of 5 on a touchdown drive in the final minutes of the first half. He finished 12 of 26 for 146 yards and a touchdown.
The Cardinals, with the NFL's worst offense, continued to search for someone to move the ball.
After he threw the interception to Tillman that put Chicago up 28-6 on Arizona's first offensive series after halftime, rookie Ryan Lindley was benched in favor of Brian Hoyer, claimed off waivers from Pittsburgh 13 days earlier.