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Bears Wed Nov 16 2011

Bears Roaring With 4 Straight Wins

Thumbnail image for bears.gifLions quarterback Matthew Stafford unleashed one of the worst passes in NFL history on Sunday, and the Bears were the beneficiaries.

Stafford dropped back, took one look to his left and saw Tony Scheffler seemingly open in the flat. Stafford threw it, but it looked like a Frisbee, hanging in the air, slowly drifting towards its target. Bears cornerback Major Wright, reading the play all the way from the snap, caught the ball in stride and jogged it into the end zone untouched.

That was the theme of Sunday's 37-13 win: a revved-up defense throttling the opponent and making it look easy. Chicago put together their most dominant win of the season. They beat up the Lions from the opening snap, forcing six turnovers and five punts, while only allowing 13 points.

It wasn't just Sunday. Over the last four games, the Bears (6-3) have been playing wildly effective football, moving into position for a wild-card playoff spot. And they've been doing it with what they do best: an elite special teams, a ballhawking defense, and a hungry running back. Big-time passing game? Who needs that?

That's not to say Jay Cutler has been playing bad. Quite the opposite, actually. He's only thrown two interceptions (both in the Tampa Bay game in London) during their four straight wins, he's connected with Roy Williams, and found ways to scramble around and make plays. With Earl Bennett back, Cutler should be fine moving forward.

The core of the team is based around Devin Hester, Matt Forte, and the defense. Hester has had two touchdowns in the Bears' streak, and his electric punt return Sunday did the Lions in for good. Forte has been the cornerstone of the offense this season. The fourth-year back is third in the NFL in rushing (with 869 yards) and leads the Bears in receptions with 42. Hester is second with 22. So yes, Forte is doing work.

But that defense -- the Lions could hardly move the ball at all in the first half of the game, when the score was still relatively close. And when they did move the chains and got a drive going, the Bears were quick to force a fumble, pick off a pass, or stop them on third down. The first five drives for Detroit? Fumble, fumble, punt, punt, punt. Oh yeah, and the Bears intercepted four passes and ran back two for touchdowns.

The Bears defense started getting into a groove against the Vikings way back in Week 6. They shut Minnesota down. Adrian Peterson only rushed for 39 yards, and the Vikings were forced into five three-and-outs, with a safety and two losses of downs for good measure.

Week 7, against Tampa, they dominated the Bucs on D, forcing five punts and a pick on Tampa's first six drives. Chicago intercepted Josh Freeman four times in the game.

As for the Philadelphia Dream Team? Not quite as dominant of a defensive performance, but Vick threw one interception and the Bears forced two turnovers on downs late in the game to seal the victory.

Even though they advanced to the conference championship game in January, the Bears have been playing better football now than they ever did last season. And as if it can't get any better for Bears fans, there's no indication that the good times will end. Chicago has four straight games versus the AFC West coming up next, followed by a home game against Seattle, a game in Green Bay in which the Packers starters might be resting, and a game in Minnesota to close the season.

Things are looking up for the Bears. Several players, including cornerback Tim Jennings and defensive back Israel Idonije, have stressed that the team will play its best football during the second half of the season, and Brian Urlacher feels the team is moving in the right direction. "We're getting better," Brian Urlacher said. "No doubt about that. We're not done yet. We've still got a long way to go. But we're going the right direction, that's for sure."

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