The Bears defense got back to scoring, the offense did just enough and the end result was a 28-13 win over Arizona. The win snapped a three game losing streak and improved the Bears record to 9-6.
Bears scoring “D” got on track”:
The last time the Bears defense scored a touchdown was way back on November 4th, when Brian Urlacher scored on his interception against Tennessee. That was when everything was going well, and the Bears were flying high with a 7-1 record. It seems to be no coincidence that the defensive scoring drought paralleled the Bears downward spiral.
The defense scored twice against the Cardinals. In the first quarter with Arizona backed up to its end zone, Cardinal running back Beanie Wells fumbled the ball and Bears cornerback Zack Bowman pounced on it for the game’s first score. Charles Tillman intercepted Arizona’s Ryan Lindley and ran ten yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. Tillman has been the teams best defender all season.
This year the Bears defense has scored nine times, one more would tie the NFL record.
Defensive end Julius Peppers had a solid game with three of the four Bears sacks in the game. It helped the defense to have cornerback Tim Jennings back from his shoulder injury.
Bears Offense spotlighted by Marshall and Forte:
While Jay Cutler did just enough to win, he was 12 of 26 for 146 yards with 1 touchdown and no interceptions. The Bears quarterback led the team on a scoring drive in the second quarter that was capped by a Matt Forte four yard touchdown run. The Bears running back rushed 12 times for 88 yards. Forte did leave the game in the second half with an ankle injury and did not return.
Cutler engineered the two minute drill with no time outs at the end of the second quarter. Brandon Marshall came up big with an 11 yard touchdown pass reception in the closing seconds of the half.
Marshall has been the Bears MVP on offense this season. He battled all game long with Cardinal cornerback Patrick Peterson. He won some battles and lost some. He finished with six catches for 68 yards. Marshall broke the team’s single season mark for reception yards he now has 1,466 yards with one game left.
Special teams not so special:
The Bears Olindo Mare had a blocked field goal that scored the lone Cardinals touchdown. There were also two muffed punts; one set up an Arizona field goal. It helped that the Cardinal offense was so inept it didn’t have an impact on the game.
One game left—maybe more?
The victory does keep the Bears playoff chances alive. There are a few scenarios; the easiest way would be a loss by the Vikings next week. And guess who has to help?—the Green Bay Packers. Minnesota posted a huge win in Houston on Sunday and maintains the final playoff spot in the NFC. If the Packers beat the Vikings and the Bears go up to Detroit and knock off the Lions the playoffs are in reach. The Lions have lost seven in a row and the Bears beat them 13-7 on October 22nd at Soldier Field. If the Bears can eek into the playoffs it would make for a more pleasant New Year’s celebration. If they don’t, the Bears will have to look back at all the missed opportunities—there were plenty.