Posted by Josh Katzowitz
For a second there, the Bears looked like they were in trouble. The Bears had dominated the early part of the game, taking a 10-point lead, and with Jay Cutler playing well and Matt Forte showing why he deserves to sign a large contract extension, Chicago was simply playing tougher than the Eagles.
But with Forte losing two fumbles -- he hadn’t put the ball on the ground in more than a calendar year -- the Eagles scored 14 points off those miscues, and though the Bears seemed tougher, Philadelphia took a touchdown lead after LeSean McCoy’s 33-yard rushing touchdown. Suddenly, Cutler was atrocious and the Bears couldn’t do anything right.
And yet …
And yet, the Bears 30-24 comeback victory showed us something important. That Chicago, in one of the toughest divisions in the league, is good enough to be a playoff team. That, when Cutler gets plenty of time to throw by his offensive line -- which allowed Cutler to get smashed repeatedly earlier this season but didn’t allow a sack tonight -- he perhaps can be one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks. That, the Bears can compete with the Lions, Cowboys, Falcons and, yes, the Eagles to grab one of those NFC wild card spots.
In the NFC North this year, you tend to forget about the Bears, considering you’ve got the all-world Packers at 8-0 and the uprising Lions at 6-2. But after tonight’s win, the Bears are 5-3 and after pounding the Vikings and beating the Buccaneers in London, they're on a three-game winning streak. And showing plenty of toughness.
Chicago isn’t the most talented team in the division. Forte is one of the best backs around, but Cutler runs hot and cold and the receivers are less than stellar (except for Earl Bennett, who returned tonight after missing the past five games and caught five passes for 95 yards and a touchdown). The defense features Brian Urlacher, Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije. But it’s also ranked 25th in the league, and the Bears have allowed at least 24 points on four occasions this season.
And yet …
And yet, tonight the Bears made Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson -- who also fumbled a punt return that led to Bears points -- irrelevant, contained Michael Vick and only allowed 330 yards, a season low for the Eagles.
Four weeks ago, the Bears were going nowhere at 2-3, and some of us wondered if coach Lovie Smith’s job was in danger. But now they’re one of the hotter teams in the NFC, though not as hot as Green Bay, and they’ll get one more shot at the Lions and the Packers. Both squads beat Chicago earlier this season.
And yet …
And yet, this might be a different Bears team. A Bears team that has the playoffs squarely in its line of sight.
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