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Brian Urlacher knows Bears defense ‘not up to our standards’

Bears safety BrandMeriweather breaks up pass intended for Panthers tight end Greg Olsen second half Chicago Bears 34-29 wover CarolinPanthers

Bears safety Brandon Meriweather breaks up a pass intended for Panthers tight end Greg Olsen in the second half of the Chicago Bears 34-29 win over the Carolina Panthers Sunday October 2, 2011 at Soldier Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 15, 2011 10:04AM



When the Bears allow 543 yards and 29 points and still win, the postgame refrain is predictable.

‘‘A win’s a win,’’ linebacker Brian Urlacher said. ‘‘You can have all the yards you want. It doesn’t matter. We won.’’

But even Urlacher couldn’t ignore the obvious flaw in the Bears’ 34-29 victory against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at Soldier Field. The defense might have been good enough, but it wasn’t good.

‘‘We know we have some work to do,’’ defensive tackle Matt Toeaina said.

Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton threw for 374 yards. Wide receiver Steve Smith had eight receptions for 181 yards. DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Newton combined for 169 rushing yard and two touchdowns on 26 carries (6.5 yards per carry). The Panthers had 11 plays of 20 or more.

On this day, it wasn’t ­fatal. But even in victory, that smarts.

‘‘We played good enough to win. But not up to our standards,’’ said Urlacher, who was credited with a team-high eight tackles, tied with Lance Briggs. ‘‘We’ve got to get better every week. We know that. We just have to keep working and practicing.’’

As bad as it looked on paper, the Bears could at least take some solace in the fact that they scored a touchdown on D.J. Moore’s 19-yard interception return and played well when they had to.

Moore only claimed to be at the right place at the right time when he caught a pass by Newton intended for Legedu Naanee that had been tipped by Briggs.

‘‘I was the receiver of a gift, pretty much,’’ said Moore, who had a 54-yard interception return for a touchdown in a loss to the Redskins last season. ‘‘They [Briggs and Urlacher] hit him and I was coming in to try and help out and the ball popped to me.’’

Safety Charles Godfey’s interception gave the Panthers possession at the Bears 29 with the Bears leading 24-23 with 14:07 to go. But Newton was 3-for-10 for 24 yards as the Panthers gained 28 yards on 11 plays on their next three possessions and Olindo Mare missed a 52-yard field goal.

Not until Marion Barber’s three-yard touchdown run gave the Bears a 34-23 lead with 1:23 left did Newton drive the Panthers for a consolation touchdown.

‘‘Our adjustment was that we played better,’’ Urlacher said. ‘‘That’s what our coaches told us at halftime: play better and faster.’’

‘‘We had the mind-set to do the stuff we’re supposed to do,’’ Moore said. ‘‘In the first half, you knew at halftime you’re going to get chewed out as soon as you come in.’’

The Bears defenders were impressed but not overwhelmed by Newton, who was 27-for-46 for 374 yards and rushed eight times for 35 yards and two touchdowns. But he wilted in the fourth quarter.

‘‘We got after him,’’ defensive end Israel Idonije said. ‘‘It’s a combination of coaching and the players saying, ‘Enough is enough.’ He’s a talented guy. Even when ­everybody was playing a little more solid he was still able to make plays. Fortunately we’re talented enough to bow up and get resilient when we needed to.’’



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