Bears prove the naysayers wrong with impressive win
BY RICK MORRISSEY firstname.lastname@example.org
Bears wide receiver Rashied Davis and quarterback Jay Cutler celebrate a Bears touchdown in the first quarter.
This had nothing to do with luck or a soft schedule or sidelined adversaries or the possibility that Michael Vick's body clock was set to Kazakhstan time.
This had everything to do with a Bears team that, finally given an opportunity against a real, live, talented opponent, rose to the occasion and made us naysayers say, in so many words, yea.
With a 31-26 victory over the Eagles on Sunday, the Bears proved they belong among the top teams in the NFL. Will they stay there or are they just on a day pass- That's beside the point right now, considering the abuse they took from those of us who had suggested a fraud investigation of the 2010 Bears was in order.
They were for real Sunday. And there's every reason to believe they'll keep it real the rest of the season.
They put on a dominant performance against the Eagles, who had beaten the Colts and the Giants during a recent three-game winning streak.
What Sunday taught us nasty doubters is that the Bears weren't in position to do anything about the friendly schedule they had been given for their first 10 games. They played whoever showed up, weak as those teams might have been, and they beat most of them on the way to a 7-3 record. We judged them on what we saw, and we didn't see much.
What we saw against the Eagles was as complete a game as the Bears have played in awhile, perhaps in years.
''Just keep doubting us,'' wide receiver Earl Bennett said. ''We're just going to continue proving y'all wrong.''
The Bears play Detroit on Sunday, so there will be only trace amounts of doubt. And you'd have to be concussed to doubt the Bears when they play the Patriots at home the following week. Too many good things happened at Soldier Field on Sunday to not believe in this team moving forward.
What's not to like-
You decide which of those good things was the best thing:
Matt Forte's 61-yard run in the first quarter-
Vick's first interception of the season, after a Tommie Harris tip into the hands of Chris Harris-
The long kick returns by Devin Hester and Danieal Manning-
Or how about the monster 17-play, 83-yard drive that burned 10 minutes, five seconds off the clock in the third quarter- It resulted in a measly 23-yard field goal, but it threatened to suck the soul right out of the Eagles.
Jay Cutler played superbly and under control -- there might be a correlation there. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz stayed level-headed. But let's face it, this is a different game if Forte doesn't go off on that long run in the first quarter. It made Philadelphia respect a running game that hadn't warranted respect much of the season.
Defense- All I know is that Julius Peppers caught Vick from behind in the fourth quarter, and what looked like the potential for late-game heroics turned into a one-yard gain. A 6-7, 283-pound defensive end chasing down one of the fastest players in the league- OK, if you say so.
Anything else- As a matter of fact, yes.
It wasn't enough that Chris Harris intercepted Vick in the second quarter. And it wasn't enough that he told himself before the play he was going to pick off the pass. He told himself how he was going to pick off the pass. You can't teach that.
''I was talking to myself, and I said, 'Chris, this ball is about to get tipped, and you're going to get one,''' he said.
And then there was Cutler, who threw four touchdown passes, two to Bennett. He was almost as good at avoiding pressure as he was at throwing the ball.
Olsen: 'We have a lot of pride'
The Bears find themselves alone in first place in the NFC North. They are the owners of a four-game winning streak. They had a chance to serve crow on a plate to yours truly after Sunday's victory, but many declined.
''We're not out there trying to get revenge,'' tight end Greg Olsen said. ''We take a lot of pride in playing well and playing hard and doing everything we can to win, regardless of what goes on and what's said. To say it adds fuel to the fire, I think we have a lot of pride to play well with or without that.''
I've criticized coach Lovie Smith for his laissez-faire sideline approach, but the only thing that matters is that his players respond to him.
The Bears have fewer enemies now, but they know they're out there, even in the stands at Soldier Field.
''I guarantee you if we would have lost, they probably would be saying we suck,'' Forte said.
Now that's the Bears I know. But they earned the right to crow.