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Bears Mon Sep 24 2012
That win was so Bears. Think about it. Solid special teams, scuffling offense with issues at quarterback, offensive line, and receiver, and a defense that got bent to hell but never broke while scoring a TD themselves - that's a 23-6 victory we've seen from the Soldier Field tenants on a number of occasions during the Lovie Smith era.
The six points the defense surrendered were hard earned by the Rams too. Rookie kicker Greg Zuerlien drilled a 56-yard field goal at the end of the first half, along with knocking down a 46-yarder in the second half to pull the Rams to within four. That's a close as it ever got. The Bears defense was suffocating throughout, and once again had to carry a sputtering offense.
Tim Jennings is fast becoming the Bears defensive player of the year and a possible All-Pro selection with his fourth interception to go along with two pass deflections that turned into picks (the Major Wright TD in this game being one). But don't overlook the play of Lance Briggs and the defensive line yesterday. Briggs almost single-handedly stymied the Rams running game (holding them to 59 yards), and the linemen racked up six sacks (2.5 for Israel Idonije) thanks to superb play from Amobi Okoye and Stephen Paea in the middle.
The victory came a bit harder than it should have, and it couldn't be used as a statement regardless of the scoring differential due to the opponent. You can't prove units are fixed against a bottom-eightteam in the NFL, and that's what the Rams are. All you can do is beat the team that's on your schedule and move onto a better opponent.
Despite only putting up 16 points, the Bears offense did progress a bit in the second half. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice seemed to adjust to the blitzing tendencies of the Rams far sooner than last week, and dialed up a number of shorter throws to keep Jay Cutler on his feet so he wouldn't have to shove a linemen. The unit began to develop a rhythm, and the completions started to loosen up the deep passes as seen by the Brandon Marshall 34-yard jump ball.
Michael Bush pounded out 55 yards and a touchdown on the ground through 18 carries, and was smartly benched after the Bears got up 14 to prevent an avoidable injury with Matt Forte's return still uncertain. Cutler added a 21-yard scamper to put the Bears inside the ten that led to Devin Hester missing a high ball in a formation and place on the field where Hester doesn't belong.
The Bears escaped relatively healthy as well. Evan Rodriguez left with a knee injury after the opening kick, while Devin Hester and Kelvin Hayden each needed some time off in the game, but returned to action later. Rodriguez is the only fullback the Bears carry, so it'll be interesting to see if they dip into the free agent list if he's unable to play next Monday in Dallas.
2-1 is exactly where we all thought the Bears would be after games against the Colts, Packers, and Rams. A meeting with the Cowboys on the road will provide stiff competition that falls somewhere between the elite Packers and the bottom-feeding Colts and Rams. We'll learn quite a bit about this year's Bears a week from today.