During their bye week, the Bears talked of becoming more balanced offensively. While they didn’t exploit the league’s worst rush defense, they did enough to keep the Bills honest. The result? The Bears escaped Canada with a 22-19 win over the still winless Bills.
The Bears rushed 31 times for 105 yards, 39 of them coming on Jay Cutler scrambles. Once again, their bend-but-don’t-break defense did enough to keep them in the game. Trailing by 5 in the 4th quarter, a 39-yard INT return by Tim Jennings set the Bears up in great field position.
Jay Cutler capitalized with a 2-yard TD pass to Earl Bennett. A Culter-to-Forte shovel pass secured the 2-point conversion, giving the Bears a 3-point lead they would not relinquish with 6:41 left in the game.
When the defense rose to the occasion and stopped the Bills offense in Bears territory on Buffalo’s ensuring drive, the Bears failed to run out the clock. Once again, their short-yardage offense couldn’t convert a 3rd and 1 that would’ve ended the game. A Brad Maynard punt pinned the Bills at their own one. Three plays later, Chris Harris picked Bills QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick to end the game.
Canadian Israel Idonije, playing in his home country for the first time since college, had a solid game, recording 3 tackles, a half sack and a blocked extra point.
After going 3 and out their first 2 drives, the Bears finally got their offense in gear. A 14-play, 81-yard drive ended with a 4-yard Cutler-to-Olsen TD pass. Then, in what would become a recurring theme, the Bills would fight back.
Bills QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick, helped lead Buffalo back with a 14-yard TD pass to Roscoe Parrish. Fitzpatrick who entered the day among the leaders in TD passes with 12, put the ball in the air 51 times (completing 31) for 299 yards 1 TD and 2 INTs.
The teams exchanged touchdown drives in the third quarter, both of which ended in short touchdown runs – a 1-yarder by Chester Taylor (yes, the Bears managed to score from the 1!) and a 4-yard answer by Fred Jackson.
The Bears offensive line kept Cutler clean most of the day against the Bills below-average pass rush. He was only sacked once, but was also stripped on the play. The Bills cashed in the fumble for a Corey McIntyre 1-yard TD run.
Other than that, Cutler was solid. Martz’s commitment to the run game allowed Cutler to put up solid, but pedestrian numbers – 17 for 30 for 188 yards and 2 TDs. Also, rather than force plays that weren’t there, he threw the ball away when no play was available.
Perhaps more important than the yards the Bears gained on the ground, Mike Martz stayed committed to the run game. Forte and Chester Taylor combined for 24 carries for 62 yards against the league’s worst rushing defense. While that performance doesn’t do much to squash Bear Nation’s concerns over their O-line, the balanced attack helped Chicago earn a big midseason win.
The 5-3 Bears host the 3-5 Vikings (who beat AZ in OT) next week in an NFC North battle.
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