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It might shock fans, but Lovie’s Bears are strong on ‘Monday Night Football’

Earl Bennett Asante Samuel

Earl Bennett, Asante Samuel

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Monday, won day

The Bears are 7-2 on ‘‘Monday Night Football’’ under coach Lovie Smith:

Oct. 16, 2006
at Arizona W, 24-23

Dec. 11, 2006
at St. Louis W, 42-27

Dec. 17, 2007
at Minnesota L, 20-13

Dec. 22, 2008
vs. Green Bay W, 20-17 (OT)

Dec. 28, 2009
vs. Minnesota W, 36-30 (OT)

Sept. 27, 2010
vs. Green Bay W, 20-17

Dec. 20, 2010
at Minnesota W, 40-14

Oct. 10, 2011
at Detroit L, 24-13

Nov. 7, 2011
at Philadelphia W, 30-24

Updated: November 1, 2012 6:50AM

The image of Jay Cutler running for his life, getting sacked nine times in a half and throwing five interceptions in prime-time games is so strong that it’s hard to believe the Bears are 7-2 on ‘‘Monday Night Football’’ under coach Lovie Smith.

Literally hard to believe. On ‘‘The Boers & Bernstein Show’’ on WSCR-AM (670) on Friday, hosts Terry Boers and Dan Bernstein were so incredulous about that statistic (‘‘Even if it’s true ... that can’t be possible!’’ Bernstein said.) that they asked to have it checked out. And the confirmation jokingly was given the ‘‘breaking news’’ treatment — the Bears indeed are 7-2 on ‘‘MNF’’ under Smith.

‘‘I just spend all day dreading Bears night games,’’ Bernstein said. ‘‘When’s the last time they won a night game on the road?’’

Uh, last year against the Eagles, a 30-24 victory on ‘‘MNF’’ at Lincoln Financial Field.

‘‘Yes, they did,’’ Bernstein said. ‘‘That’s a good point. I block those out, though.’’

Who doesn’t?

‘‘I don’t care if Lovie Smith is 7-2 or not,’’ caller Phil from Crystal Lake said. ‘‘In my mind, they always lose on Monday night.’’

They’re not alone in their memory bias. You see Cutler get sacked nine times in one half and leave with a concussion, and it kind of sticks with you. Anybody remember Cutler’s five-yard touchdown pass to Earl Bennett in the fourth quarter against the Eagles last year? Believe it or not, Cutler had a 96.9 passer rating that night — 18-for-32 for 208 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and no sacks.

It goes beyond just Cutler and the Lovie era. The Bears had a dubious history on ‘‘MNF’’ since its inception in 1970. Even the Ditka Bears were 8-12, including the lone loss of the 1985 season, 38-24 to the Dolphins in Miami.

But under Smith, the Bears are 7-2 on ‘‘Monday Night Football’’ — you can’t say it enough — including 4-2 on the road. Before Smith, the Bears were 4-19 on the road on Monday.

That’s not to say the Bears are a ‘‘prime-time’’ team. The Bears are 2-8 in their last 10 Thursday/Sunday night games. The difference, it appears, is that the Monday night game gives Smith and his staff the extra day of practice and rest the Bears thrive on.

‘‘To me, this is a normal week for a Monday night game for us,’’ Smith said about the game against the Cowboys in Dallas — the first of three ‘‘MNF’’ appearances this season. ‘‘We have routines we go through that we’ve gone through for many years based on a Thursday night or a Monday night. So it’s not that big of an issue for us.

‘‘This week, though ... just to have that extra day is always good. [We’re able to] rest up. We’ve been able to get another practice in, and we’ll need all of that.’’

Cutler isn’t known as a prime-time player. But he’s 4-1 with a 98.7 average rating on Monday night with the Bears (10 touchdowns, three interceptions). And the lone loss — 24-13 to the Lions at Ford Field last season — was one of the rare times Cutler has overcome a pass-rush onslaught to give the Bears a chance to win. His 99.6 rating that night (28-for-38, 249 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions) is his best in a loss in seven NFL seasons.

No wonder he enjoys playing in prime time — or at least on ‘‘Monday Night Football.’’

‘‘You get an extra day to prepare,’’ said Cutler, who had a 28.7 rating (one touchdown, four interceptions, seven sacks) against the Packers on Thursday night in Week 2. ‘‘You’re the only game on TV. I think the guys get up for it. The game’s a little bit faster. It’s fun.’’

Of course, he’s referring to ‘‘Monday Night Football.’’

In Thursday night games, he’s 1-2 with an average rating of 42.4 (one touchdown, 10 interceptions). On Sunday nights, he’s 1-4 with an average rating of 68.5 (six touchdowns, eight interceptions).

Like the Bears, Cutler might not be a prime-time player. But he is a ‘‘Monday Night Football’’ player — believe it or not.

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