Bears need another win next week - and to cheer for the Packers!?
BY ADAM L. JAHNS email@example.com December 23, 2012 6:48PM
Charles Tillman (33) is all smiles after returning a third-quarter interception for a touchdown. | Paul Connors~AP
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- MORRISSEY: Even if Bears make playoffs, Lovie Smith Era has run its course
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Updated: December 23, 2012 10:30PM
GLENDALE, Ariz. — “Go, Pack, Go.”
As painful as those words might be for the Bears and their fans, cheering for the Green Bay Packers is what they have to do.
After the Minnesota Vikings’ surprisingly manhandled the Houston Texans, the Bears had to beat the Arizona Cardinals to stay in the playoff hunt. They did just that with a 28-13 victory Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.
The Bears still remain in a precarious position. They have to beat the Detroit Lions next Sunday at Ford Field, and the Packers have to beat the Vikings at Mall of America Field.
Are the Bears ready to cheer on the Packers?
“I don’t know what to say to that,” said defensive end Julius Peppers, who had three sacks and four tackles for loss against the Cardinals. “I guess so. We’re not necessarily rooting for them, per se. But I guess in a sense we are.”
It’s hard to say if the Bears will have any momentum after beating the offensively challenged Cardinals, especially after running Matt Forte (ankle) and free safety Chris Conte (hamstring) left the game with injuries.
But after seeing the Vikings win, the Bears didn’t exactly falter in a do-or-die situation, either.
“I’m sure a few of them knew, but again it was just still about taking care of business,” coach Lovie Smith said. “If we won the football game, it would give us another week of hope.”
The Bears’ big three on offense did their part. Forte had 12 carries for 88 yards and a touchdown. Jay Cutler was shaky early on, finishing 12-for-26 for 146 yards. Brandon Marshall set the franchise’s single-season receiving-yards record, catching six passes for 68 yards and a touchdown. He has 1,466 yards, breaking Marcus Robinson’s record of 1,400.
Most of Cutler’s yardage came in the final minutes of the first half. He led a six-play, 80-yard drive that was capped by an 11-yard touchdown pass to Marshall with 19 seconds left.
But it was the Bears’ defense that really reversed the team’s fortunes with play reminiscent of its 7-1 start.
Cornerback Zack Bowman recovered a fumble by running back Beanie Wells, who slipped and collided with one of his linemen, and scored on a one-yard return. Cornerback Charles Tillman intercepted rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley (17-for-30, 141 yards) and returned it 10 yards for a 28-6 lead.
The Cardinals had 258 yards of offense. Jay Feely made two field goals, and Justin Bethel returned a blocked field goal 82 yards for a touchdown with 1:46 left.
“I feels good,” cornerback Tim Jennings said. “We haven’t had this feeling in a long time.”
But the Bears’ good feelings for the Packers only go so far.
“I’ll just say it’s that time of year where we need guys to fall off and lose some games,” Jennings said. “And that’s who we’ve got to root for this one time.”