Uh-oh, NFL…the Bears may have found an offense to go with their league-leading D.
Thanks to 5 offensive plays of 30 yards or more, a near-perfect game from Jay Cutler, who finished with 4 TD passes, and a defense that held NFL posterboy Mike Vick in check, the Chicago Bears put together their best win of the season, a 31-26 eye-opener over the NFC East-leading Eagles.
The game-changing play that sparked the Bears to an 18-point third quarter lead came late in the first half.
With the Eagles trailing 14-13 but threatening to take the lead deep in Bears territory with under two minutes left, Tommie Harris tipped a Vick pass that was intercepted by Chris Harris, who returned it 39 yards to set the Bears up for points going into the half.
Six plays and 63 yards later, the Bears scored on a Cutler-to-Earl Bennett touchdown pass giving Chicago a 21-13 lead at half. The Vick INT was his first in nearly 250 passes this year.
On the offensive side, big plays in the run and pass game set the Bears up all day long…
- 61-yard run by Matt Forte
- 39-yard catch and run by Devin Hester
- 30-yard catch and run by Earl Bennett
- 34-yard catch and run by Hester
- 28-yard run by Forte
Cutler won the QB matchup, finishing 14 for 21 for 247 yards and 4 TDs. His 146.2 rating was the fourth-best in Bears history (thanks Comcast Sportsnet for the tidbit). Vick completed 29 of 44 for 333 yards, 2 TDs and the costly INT. Forte added 117 yards on only 14 carries.
While the Bears jumped out to an early 14-3 lead, the Eagles scored on three of their first five offensive possessions to stay in the game. But the Bears’ bend-but-don’t-break defense held the Eagles to field goals instead of touchdowns on two first-half occasions. The Bears were able to sack Vick 4 times from their front four, including one each by Julius Peppers, Matt Toeaina and Anthony Adams. Not having to bring pressure on Vick via the blitz allowed the Urlacher, Briggs and friends to contain #7.
After their late first-half touchdown, the Bears dominated the third quarter in every facet. They possessed the ball for 11-and-a-half minutes, scored on a Cutler-to-Greg Olsen 9-yard touchdown pass and a 23-yard Robbie Gould field goal. The 10-point third quarter – complemented by a shutout of the Eagles offense – gave the Bears an 18-point lead entering the fourth quarter.
The Eagles wouldn’t go down easy though. After two fourth-quarter field goals cut the lead to 31-19, Mike Vick threw a perfectly placed 30-yard touchdown to TE Brent Celek on 4th down with 1:48 to make the score 31-26. The ensuring onside kick was recovered by Johnny Knox and Jay Cutler took three knees to give the Bears the big W.
With the Packers’ last-second loss to the Falcons, the Bears moved into 1st place by a game and hold the head-to-head tiebreaker with Green Bay…at least until they meet in the final week of the season in Lambeau.
With their win over the NFL’s team-of-the-moment, the spotlight will once again shine on the NFL’s founding franchise for the first time since the Super Bowl season in 2006. Brian Urlacher and Co. have thrived playing off the no-respect card they think they’ve been dealt by the national media all-year long.
Makes you wonder how they’ll handle the praise that’s sure to follow after this impressive win.