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Where was the Bears’ D-line?

Updated: October 11, 2013 3:28PM



Much has been asked of the Bears’ defense the last 10 years, and when I say “much,’’ I mean “the world.’’

The offense hasn’t kept up. Offensive coordinators have come and gone like weather fronts. So it hasn’t been easy for those Bears players trying to stop the other team from scoring points, what with the weight of the franchise on their shoulders.

But after what happened Thursday night, somebody might want to do a well-being check on Dick Butkus. I’m not sure his ticker was able to take what was on display at Soldier Field.

When was the last time the Bears’ offense had to make up for the deficiencies of the defense? You can say it’s about time, but you should be very concerned about the defensive line if you’re a Bears’ fan.

If it weren’t for Jay Cutler and an evolving attack, this could have been a whole different story instead of a 27-21 Bears’ victory over the New York Giants. Kind of nice to write that for once.

Three interceptions, two by Tim Jennings, helped save the day. The amazing part? There was virtually no help up front. Down three injured defensive tackles, the Bears’ pass rush was a rumor, a suggestion, a slight breeze.

Defensive end Julius Peppers came into the game with one sack and eight tackles, and somehow left with the same stats. That’s correct: He had no tackles or sacks.

This is probably where I should point out that the Giants are 0-6 and have big injury problems on the ­offensive line.

If the Bears can’t get a pass rush on Eli Manning, they can’t get one on any quarterback.

“It’s important for everybody to do their job,’’ said linebacker Lance Briggs, who had the Bears’ only sack. “We got to work on third down. We got to get off the field on third down. Third down has kind of been the bane of our defense.’’

That wasn’t the only ­problem. Brandon Jacobs hasn’t played football in what feels like 20 years. A little more than a month ago, he was in street clothes. On Thursday, the 6-4, 264-pound running back ran over Bears defenders like a car going through a cornfield. He ­finished with 106 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

The Bears have relied on cornerback Charles Tillman and his turnover-forcing skills for a long time. He sat out with knee and groin injuries. Jennings helped make his absence a little less painful.

The Giants’ first two ­series ended in interceptions, but the scary thing for the Bears was that they only had a 7-0 lead to show for it (on Jennings’ 48-yard ­return). Bears coach Marc Trestman decided to go for it on fourth-and-2 on the Giants’ 4-yard line and lost, ­wasting Zack Bowman’s earlier ­interception. Not smart. Kick the field goal.

Giants receiver Reuben Randle was wide open for a pass from Manning early in the second quarter, thanks to a missed assignment. That was Sin No. 1. Sin Nos. 2 and 3 were the missed tackles that allowed him to get in the end zone on a 37-yard ­scoring play that tied the game at 14.

The good news? The Bears are 4-2 and stopped a two-game losing streak.

“We found a way to win a game on a Thursday night,’’ Trestman said.

The offense made strides, mixing plays and targets creatively. Cutler completed passes to six receivers. Matt Forte was more involved. Brandon Marshall had nine receptions for 87 yards and two ­touchdowns, so we’ll ­assume he will be happy for at least another week.

Cutler had been bad in Thursday night games, which are a terrible idea to begin with. Heading into the Giants game, he had a passer rating of 34.2 in three such games as a Bear. Most of that was the result of one touchdown pass and 10 interceptions.

He finished with a 106.5 rating against the Giants, so I guess we can put the Thursday night thing to rest.

Things were stacked in Cutler’s favor, the biggest being that the Giants came into the game winless — I might have mentioned that already— and playing a godawful brand of football. It was so bad that coach Tom Coughlin’s already sour face threatened to curdle.

But Cutler was able to beat the Giants and his own defense. One opponent was a lot tougher than the other.



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