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Grading the Bears vs. Chargers

Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher looks up inseats  late fourth quarter Chicago Bears 31-20 wover San Diego Chargers Sunday November

Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher looks up into the seats late in the fourth quarter of the Chicago Bears 31-20 win over the San Diego Chargers Sunday November 20, 2011 at Soldier Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Here’s how the Sun-Times grades the Bears in their 31-20 victory over the Chargers on Sunday:

Quarterback (A) Cutler made some gorgeous throws and was efficient in compiling a 124.9 rating.

Running backs (C-) Matt Forte and Marion Barber got tough yards in the fourth quarter, helping the Bears limit the Chargers to 35 seconds of time of possession in the final period. Otherwise, they averaged 3.0 per carry.

Receivers (A) Earl Bennett was Earl Bennett. Johnny Knox set up one touchdown and scored another. Roy Williams had five grabs for 62 yards. Blocking tight end Matt Spaeth got into the act with a nobody-saw-that-coming screen pass for a 13-yard gain on third down.

Offensive line (B-) The Bears managed 2.9 yards per carry behind the patchwork unit against a defense ranked 24th against the run. On the other hand, they did not allow a sack for the second time in three games.

Defensive line (C) Even though the Chargers had three starters and two backup offensive linemen injured, the Bears couldn’t produce a sack. They did hold San Diego to 52 rushing yards on 17 carries.

Linebackers (B) Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs combined for a forced fumble and nine tackles, which is below their normal output. They missed some tackles early before settling down.

Secondary (B) Charles Tillman had a tough day covering Vincent Jackson, but those back-shoulder throws are tough to defend. Tillman compensated with another forced fumble. Major Wright had an interception for the third straight game and Corey Graham got another late pick.

Special teams (A-) Devin Hester had a 37-yard return and had two others called back. Graham downed a punt on the three. Gould had a 42-yard field goal and Adam Podlesh a 55-yard punt.

Coaching (A-) The Bears didn’t play their best, but they won a potential trap game to remain on a roll. One question: Why not save the fake punt for a more meaningful moment?

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