The result was a franchise record for one of the NFL's best wide receivers, and a big win for the Detroit Lions.
"I knew immediately that one of us on the outside was going to get it," Johnson said. "So I just wanted to work, be patient and he threw a great ball."
Johnson also had a tiebreaking TD reception in the third quarter and Reggie Bush rushed for 105 yards as Detroit (6-3) swept the season series against Chicago (5-4) for the first time since the 2007 season.
When Green Bay lost 27-13 to Philadelphia, the Lions were all alone in first in the division for the first time since the end of Week 5 of the 2005 season, according to STATS.
"We came out with a victory on the road against a really tough team," Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said. "It was a hard-fought win. Proud of the players, but that's the only thing that means (anything) today.
"I mean first place, you don't get any prizes for first place there nine games into the season."
Johnson's ninth touchdown grab of the season was the 63rd of his career, breaking a tie with Herman Moore for the Detroit record. Moore still leads with 670 career receptions for the Lions, but Johnson might take that record down at some point, too.
Cutler threw for 250 yards and a touchdown in his first action since he injured his groin last month. He injured his left ankle in the second quarter and looked progressively worse as the game wore on.
"I didn't want to take him out unless he felt he couldn't do the job," Trestman said. "It was, I thought, a very courageous performance throughout. Then at the end I took him out because I knew he would have to run around in the two-minute drill and that's when we decided to put Josh in the game."
"I just figured it would be a run or a play-action pass," Fairley said. "I just scouted out the ball real good and it was just happy I made the play."
Stafford threw for 219 yards for Detroit, which has won two in a row for the first time since the end of September. Johnson had six catches for 83 yards.
Cutler had other ideas.
The Bears had a bye week after the Washington loss, and Cutler watched while McCown led Chicago to a big 27-20 victory at Green Bay last Monday. Cutler then was cleared to play on Thursday and made the start against Detroit with the Lions, Bears and Packers all tied for the NFC North lead entering the day.
He insisted he was 100 percent, but it was clear his groin was bothering him more and more as the game wore on. He grabbed his groin area and dropped to the ground after one third-quarter throw. He then popped right back up and remained in the game.
"It held up OK. It's all on the same leg so I think that was a problem," said Cutler, referring the groin and ankle injuries. "But the groin, you take the ankle out of the equation and I would have been fine, I think."
NOTES: Levy began the day tied with seven other players for the NFL lead in interceptions. ... Each team played without a key defensive end. Detroit rookie Ziggy Ansah was out with a left ankle injury, and Chicago's Shea McClellin tweaked a hamstring during practice after he had three sacks in the victory at Green Bay. ... Lions RB Montell Owens left in the first quarter with a knee injury and did not return.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press