The easy thing for Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman to do would have been to stick with quarterback Josh McCown. Nobody wants to cool off the hot hand in a playoff race. Ever.
So credit Trestman for having the conviction to make the right decision, stand by his word and go back to starter Jay Cutler, who rebounded from two early interceptions to throw for three touchdowns in Sunday's 38-31 win over the Cleveland Browns.
McCown, 34, did what any good backup tries to do while Cutler rehabbed an ankle injury the previous three weeks. He limited mistakes, got the ball to his playmakers and gave the Bears a chance to reach postseason.
For all his flaws, Cutler can do more than that. He can elevate a team, which is what the Bears need if they're going to overcome one of the league's worst defenses and emerge from the ever-volatile NFC North race.
That's surely one reason Trestman didn't think about benching Cutler, 30, after the early errors, either, even with the Bears down 10-3 after Tashaun Gipson returned the second pick 44 yards for a score.
"A lot of thoughts crossed my mind. That wasn't one of them," Trestman told news reporters. "He was throwing the ball well enough, and he's a strong enough guy to overcome it. And he did."
Remember, the Bears have a decision to make on Cutler, whose five-year, $49.9 million contract expires after the season. Leaving him on the bench wouldn't bring them any closer to knowing how to approach that situation, and Trestman would look less than steadfast in his plan at the most important position.
One thing the Bears know is McCown, who also is unsigned beyond the season, won't be anointed the franchise quarterback. They also know if Cutler gets hurt again or falters badly these next two weeks, they have a capable alternative at the ready.
— If the Cowboys miss the playoffs in the worst division in football, what justification could owner Jerry Jones possibly give for retaining coach Jason Garrett? Blowing a 23-point halftime lead against the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers is bad enough. Having Dez Bryant walk off the field with time on the clock just is one more confirmation of the dysfunction that persists in Dallas. A big part of that is on Jones for constructing a roster that lacks talent on defense and is a salary cap disaster. Tony Romo's play down the stretch was an issue again, too. But there are pieces in place, especially offensively, and Garrett's consistency — 8-8 in 2011, 8-8 in 2012, 7-7 so far in 2013 — sure seems to indicate there just isn't a switch to be flipped going forward.
— By the time the Oakland Raiders defense got around to worrying about the screen passes that led to three of Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles' four first-half touchdowns, Charles was ready to torch them on the wheel route for his fifth and final score. There were questions early in the season about whether Charles' 5-11, 199-pound frame could hold up to the pounding. But the 26-year-old is up to 311 touches (nine away from the career high he set last year) and going strong, which is good news for an offense that continues to revolve around him as it returns to the playoffs, seeking its first win there in 20 years.
Redskins 26: Going for two instead of the tie with 18 seconds to go? Another thank you card is in the mail from the St. Louis Rams, who currently hold the No. 2 pick in the 2014 draft courtesy of Washington.
Falcons 27: Veteran RB Steven Jackson (2 TDs) showed CB Josh Wilson at the goal line he can still pack a punch.
Bears 38: WR Brandon Marshall, WR Alshon Jeffery and RB Matt Forte (295 combined yards, 2 TDs) are dangerous no matter who's at QB.
Browns 31: The losing streak has reached five, despite a defense that took back two of its three takeaways for TDs.
Texans 3: Surprise! Naming Wade Phillips interim coach wasn't the answer for the losses (12 in a row) or penalties (14 for 114 yards).
Colts 25: WR Griff Whalen's early 14-yard TD catch was their first in the opening quarter since Oct. 20.
Bills 27: Rookie QB EJ Manuel's first road win came after his worst game, with a big assist from a defense that forced four turnovers.
Jaguars 20: Speedy RB Jordan Todman (153 yards on 29 touches) is one to watch in the future.
Patriots 20: Immediate impact of TE Rob Gronkowski's season-ending knee injury? They were 1-for-4 in the red zone.
Dolphins 24: QB Ryan Tannehill (25-of-37, 312 yards, 3 TDs) went toe-to- toe with the guy who's owned the division for more than a decade.
Eagles 30: Eight carries for RB LeSean McCoy against the NFL's 31st-ranked defense? Game flow notwithstanding, that's unacceptable.
Vikings 48: The defense gave up 428 passing yards, but it sure could have been worse with the top three cornerbacks hurt.
Seahawks 23: CB Brandon Browner's absence hasn't exactly crippled a secondary that combined for five interceptions.
Giants 0: It's gotten uglier than anyone could have imagined. But management has shown patience in the past, and rings buy time.
49ers 33: Make it four straight wins, and QB Colin Kaepernick has a 100-plus passer rating in three of them.
Buccaneers 14: With tough trips to St. Louis and New Orleans left, could coach Greg Schiano really survive a 4-12 finish?
Jets 20: Rookie QB Geno Smith's latest backbreaker: a pick-six to CB Captain Munnerlyn. Stick a fork in them.
Panthers 30: The more RB DeAngelo Williams (168 combined yards) produces, the more it lightens the load on QB Cam Newton.
Chiefs 56: It helps to face an undermanned Raiders D, but QB Alex Smith (17-of-20, 287 yards, 5 TDs) was smoking.
Raiders 31: Bits of good news in an increasingly brutal season: WR Andre Holmes (four catches, 58 yards, TD) looks like a find.
Packers 37: They overcame a 26-3 halftime deficit to keep the season alive. But they need QB Aaron Rodgers back, badly.
Cowboys 36: That sound you hear is Jason Garrett backing the bus over QB Tony Romo, whose INT on a designed run was a killer.
Saints 16: They're 7-0 at home, 3-4 on the road — and now they go to Carolina with the division on the line.
Rams 27: Credit the defense Rob Ryan spurned for getting in QB Drew Brees' head with two early interceptions.
Cardinals 37: Blowing a 17-point lead in the final 6:13 isn't the mark of a great team. They found a way again in OT, though.
Titans 34: He's not solely at fault, but RB Chris Johnson has been held under 50 rushing yards seven times in the past 11 games.
Bengals 20: Depending what happens Monday, the finale against Baltimore could be for the division, thanks to Cincy's road woes (3-5).
Steelers 30: They're still playing hard for Mike Tomlin. They have a lot to fix with the roster in the offseason, though.
VIDEO: Whipping around the NFL following Sunday's action
1: Wall run into by 49ers TE Vernon Davis, who ended up on his back after hitting the padding at the end of a 52-yard TD catch.
3: Career carries entering Sunday for Vikings RB Matt Asiata, who had 30 for 51 yards and three TDs against the Eagles with RBs Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart inactive.
9: Consecutive games in which the Eagles defense had held opponents to 21 points or fewer before the Vikings scored 48.
9: Games between touchdowns for Colts RB Trent Richardson, who scored on a 9-yard shovel pass from QB Andrew Luck in the second quarter against the Texans.
20: Players who have registered at least five sacks in 11 seasons since that became an official statistic in 1982. 49ers DL Justin Smith joined the list Sunday.
23: Victories for Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, the most by a quarterback in his first two NFL seasons in the Super Bowl era.
48: Years since two opposing players each had two interceptions with one returned for a touchdown in a single game before Bears CB Zackary Bowman and Browns S Tashaun Gipson did it.
169: Career interceptions thrown by Giants QB Eli Manning, who tossed five more against the Seahawks to pass Charlie Conerly for the most in franchise history.
The Ravens, who are playoff regulars and the defending Super Bowl champions, have won three in a row. The Lions, who haven't won a playoff game since 1991, have dropped three out of four. The victor in Detroit will stay in the thick of things. The loser relinquishes control of their playoff destiny.
Follow Tom Pelissero on Twitter @TomPelissero
PHOTOS: Best of NFL Week 15