The Bears earned a much-needed victory against the Philadelphia Eagles. They showed resiliency, overcoming two Matt Forte fumbles, and they showed a lot of potential on offense and defense.
Here are three keys and three concerns:
1st key) A 29-game streak was snapped, when Jay Cutler wasn’t sacked. His completion percentage wasn’t great (18 of 32), but Cutler generated 208 passing yards, tossed tow touchdowns and he didn’t have any turnovers. But Cutler endured some drops by his receivers, several in key situations. But he also completed a lot of important passes and avoided a couple of sticky situations with just enough shiftiness.
“Our tackles did a hell of a job, blocking two elite pass rushers,” Bears center Roberto Garza said. “All credit goes to those guys.”
2nd key) The Bears defense prevented big plays. Yes, LeSean McCoy dodged Major Wright, en route to a 33-yard touchdown. But, for the most part, the Bears did a nice job limiting the big plays of a very, very explosive Eagles offense, one that entered the game No. 1 in the NFL. Michael Vick’s longest pass was 31 yards, and his longest run was just 11 yards. Big-play receiver DeSean Jackson’s longest catch yielded just 10 yards.
“I guess they try to do everything in their power to not let us run on the field and not make those big plays that we have made over the years,” Jackson said. “I have to find a way to make it happen and get through it.”
3rd key) The Bears weathered the expected storm. They did what they were supposed to, getting off to a fast start. They set the tone early. But a 10-0 quickly disappeared, and they actually trailed 24-17 in the third quarter. But the Bears remained composed, scoring the final 13 points. They did catch somewhat of a break, when rookie Chas Henry faked a punt and tossed the ball toward a wide-open Colt Anderson. But, Henry — a former high school quarterback — badly underthrew the ball. It didn’t cost the Eagles any points but did give the Bears the ball back at their own 42-yard line.
“It’s very seldom that you have a guy completely uncovered out there,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said. “We had a chance to make a big play, so that was the decision made. We didn’t execute it quite right.”
1st concern) Matt Forte clearly vented about his contract situation last week, and he fumbled twice — losing both — against the Eagles. He did, however, have 133 rushing yards. Will this become a bigger issue or distraction?
To hear general manager Jerry Angelo, though, a contract doesn’t appear to be coming anytime soon. Angelo told WBBM-AM 780 before the game: “Matt was the only player we targeted and we made him, in my opinion, a very lucrative offer and it wasn’t able to get done. Our intent is still to have Matt play the bulk of his years in Chicago and we’ll just have to wait and see. We always have a plan in place and we will continue to talk. “Is there something imminent? No. But we’re always planning and trying to create options.”
2nd concern) Receiver Devin Hester had a rough day, catching just one of the five passes intended for him and averaging just 10 yards per kickoff return. He did have a 19-yard punt return, though. Hester left the game midway through the fourth quarter with a left ankle injury. He walked off the field gingerly but suggested afterward he would be fine.
“He came out of it in pretty good shape,” Smith said of Hester.
3rd concern) The Bears face another must-win game, this one against the Detroit Lions. Monday’s game was important, in the big picture, because the Eagles have the talent to be an NFC wildcard contender. This win gives the Bears an edge over the Eagles. Now, though, the Bears have to beat the Lions, to close that gap, since they are currently in third place in the NFC North.
“Every game is big and this one was really a big one for us and we need to beat Detroit next weekend,” Bears linebacker Lance Briggs said.
Game ball goes to… Bears receiver Earl Bennett. Jay Cutler had a very nice game, as did linebacker Brian Urlacher and Zack Bowman, who forced the fumble on the Jackson punt return. But Bennett was out the last five games, with what the club described as a chest injury, and he returned in a big way with five catches for 95 yards, including a touchdown. Bennett, though, hauled in three catches on third down for 68 yards.