Survive & Advance - Bears 24, Lions 20

Phew.  That…was…close.  Chicago narrowly avoided a disastrous loss at the hands of the Lions Sunday but hung on to win 24-20, improving their record to 9-3 and maintaining their lead in the NFC North.  Nothing about this win was easy.  Understanding the importance of this game (a must-win), I sweated out the first 58 minutes - I’m sure all my fellow Bears fans had the same unenjoyable time.  Honestly, the Bears played pretty good but so did Detroit.  That was the hardest part: it’s one thing to play a bad team close because of turnovers, penalties or a big play or two but when you are just being pressed by a 2-9 squad in every facet, that can be disconcerting.

But I’m not going to look at Sunday’s effort in a negative light at all.  This was a classic trap-game - a big win last week and a huge game against New England next Sunday sandwiched by a road test against a familiar opponent that hasn’t won a division game in four years.  The Lions had their third-string quarterback playing and were without one of their defenders.  Chicago had every reason to come out flat (which they did) but when push came to shove, the Bears found a way to win.  Good teams can win with their B- game and the Bears certainly did that on Sunday.

  • The offensive line struggled throughout the game.  Granted, Detroit’s defensive line is the strength of their team but our guys got blown off the ball way too many times.  Cliff Avril looked like fucking Lawrence Taylor out there.  After several good games, this was a small step backward for the line but it’s not the Chinese fire-drill feeling I had after the Giants game.  Like I said, the Lions came ready to play.
  • I was all over Devin Aromashodu in the preseason as our breakout offensive guy.  That was a poor prediction (much like my prediction of the 2010 Bears).  The guy I should have identified was Earl Bennett.  Not so much a breakout candidate - he did have 54 receptions last season - but he is clearly the #2 option on this team behind Johnny Knox.  Cutler loves him and Bennett is responding.  He is the third-down guy the Bears were looking for early this season and his involvement in the offense and the Bears five game winning streak are somewhat related.

  • I learned A LOT about the Bears defense on Sunday.  They thrive on pressure and turnovers but on Sunday neither of those things happened.  They’re defined by sound principles and good tackling but they were sloppy throughout the game in those aspects.  But when it all mattered in the final 30 minutes, the Bears defense, led by Brian Urlacher and his 17 tackles, delivered in a big, big way.  With just under eight minutes to go, Detroit had the ball in Chicago territory following a big kick return but the Bears shut the door, forced a punt and never stepped on the field again.  Way to step up, fellas.
  • Devin Hester is going to break the NFL record for return touchdowns in the next few weeks.  He’s also going to break the single-season record for return touchdowns foiled by a kicker.  Seriously, Devin, stop letting nonathletic white guys bring you down.
  • Speaking of return guys, Stefan Logan is crazy good.  Does anyone know why Pittsburgh let him go in the first place?
  • Jay Cutler shines, once again.  I really, really hope this story continues to repeat itself week after week after season after the next decade.  Smart Jay is really fun to watch.
  • Way to go, Robbie Gould.  And same goes for you, Brandon Manumaleuna.
  • Huge game next weekend.  The Bears get a little break catching the Pats on a short week but this is going one awesome contest.  Looking forward to a weeks’ worth of Tom Brady’s hair.

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