It was a tale of two halves for the Bears in their 41-3 win over Jacksonville as they head into the bye-week with a 4-1 record. Head Coach Lovie Smith and his staff should delete the game plan they had drawn up in the first half. As bad as it was with a 3-3 tie, the second half was 100 percent better in every phase of the game. It would have been great to be a fly on the wall to hear the halftime talk Smith had with his team. The coaching staff did an excellent job of implementing adjustments, which got the team back on track.
The Bears opened the third quarter on offense and although the drive only netted a field goal it was a long, sustain drive that seem to wear out the Jaguars defense.
It didn’t take long for the Bears to flex their muscles on defense; they forced a rattled Jacksonville’s quarterback Blaine Gabbert on a 2nd and long into throwing a bad pass, which allowed Charles Tillman to snare an interception and a score just as the Bears cornerback did on Monday night in Dallas against the Cowboys. Bears linebacker Lance Briggs also duplicated his turnover from week four; he grabbed a pick and went into the end zone. For three straight weeks the Bears defense has scored touchdowns on opponents’ miscues-that has not happened since November 1950.
The rout was on in the second half the Bears as they piled up 38 points the most the team has scored after halftime since 1941.
It wasn’t just the Bears defense that turned the screws on Jacksonville; Jay Cutler had two touchdown receptions, one to Brandon Marshall and another one that may be costly to rookie Alshon Jeffery. After the touchdown, Jeffery came off the field the Bears medical staff attended to an injury to his right hand. If he has to miss any significant time it will be a difficult loss for the Bears offense.
The blow-out allowed the Bears to take out starters Cutler, Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte as they got to watch the game from the sideline during the final minutes. In those waning moments, they got to see running back Armando Allen scampered 46 yards for his first NFL career touchdown.
Forte finished the game with 107 rushing yards and Marshall caught 12 passes for 144 yards and a TD. It was the first time in six years the Bears had a player rush for over 100 yards and catch over 100 yards.
This win gives the Bears a tremendous feeling heading into the bye-week. It wasn’t just a so-so win; it was a major blow-out and gives them a lot of confidence no matter if it was Jacksonville or any other team.
What makes this win sweet for the Bears, their divisional rivals, the Green Bay Packers got beat by the Indianapolis Colts 30-27, dropping them to a record of 2-3. The surprise team of the division has been Minnesota; they won again, beating Tennessee 30-7. The Vikings and Bears are on top of the NFC North division with a 4-1 record.
This Bears defense despite its age and many believed they were too old (myself included), look vibrant and youthful. There seems to be a right blend of young defenders with older ones that are producing right now. If they stay healthy — always a concern — this could be an opportunity to have a special season.
There is still a long, long way to go and plenty of football is left on the schedule. At least this week, they get to rest, continue to refine their game plan and prepare for their next opponent , the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football October 22. The national spotlight has captured the Bears mojo once again.