By Nick Shepkowski-
(WSCR) With a 30-24 victory over the heavily favored Philadelphia Eagles, the Bears put themselves on track for their second straight playoff appearance as they now hold tie-breakers over Atlanta, Tampa Bay and the Eagles, all teams who figure to be in the running for NFC Wild Card spots at the end of the year.
5-3 after a 2-3 start is a great position to be in and plenty respectable considering all three losses are against teams who would currently be in the playoffs. With that said, a look back at Monday nights big victory:
Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs:
LeSean McCoy wound up getting a long touchdown run but was contained the majority of the evening while Michael Vick never got loose and broke a long run himself. The defensive line deserves credit in helping this but cutback lanes weren't to be found all night for McCoy, who makes a living off of those. Props to both 54 and 55. The Bears needed big games from both and they each came up huge.
He isn't the "go up and get it" type of receiver everyone desires but he's easily the best target Jay Cutler has to throw to. Five receptions for 95 yards and a score but having him to go to on third down wound up being huge for the Bears and was a major factor in extending drives and putting more points on the board. My offensive game ball goes to Earl.
Gallery: Week 9 Bears 30, Eagles 24
Bears Overcome Forte Fumbles In 30-24 Win
Bernstein: Cuter's In Charge
Holmes: Bears Defensive Switch Pays Off
Shepkowski: The Good, Bad And Ugly Of Bears-Eagles
There was a reason we saw so many drops and so many "alligator arms" by Philadelphia receivers on Monday night. Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings were both bringing the wood and were excellent in coverage. Praise needs to be given to DJ Moore for not only his help in coverage but his ability to play the run tonight as well. Great game by the Bears secondary but more specifically the corners.
4.8 yards per carry and no sacks of Jay Cutler. Enough said. No doubt this unit has improved since early season struggles and its not looking like there is any reason to rush Gabe Carimi back…for now.
(Second Half) Jay Cutler:
Cutler led three second half scoring drives, including the final drive where the Bears were solely trying to run out the clock. His second half line: 9-of-13, 106 yards and a touchdown, which included multiple improvised plays that resulted in positive yardage instead of losses.
Fake Punt Luck:
It was the recipe for disaster, stacking the line of scrimmage on the Eagles' fourth quarter fake punt that fell short of the intended receiver. If the punter keeps his composure even a little bi,t that play goes for big yards and who knows what the final score ends up being. It was an enormous break for the Bears.
(First Half) Jay Cutler:
It wasn't the fact that Cutler was just 9-of-19 in the first half but it was how he went about getting to the 10 incomplete passes. Plenty of overthrows and missed targets by Cutler kept the Bears from extending multiple drives and wound up probably keeping this a game much longer than it should have been. Major props for his second half play though, great job bouncing back.
Nick Roach/Major Wright:
For the most part, Roach had a respectable game but his effort on LeSean McCoy's second half touchdown run was atrocious. Wright was also in perfect position to make a stop on a different McCoy run but dove out of the way on third down, allowing McCoy to pick up the first down on a drive that wound up in the end zone. Huge blunders by both on those given plays.
Matt Forte Fumbles:
Its hard to complain about Matt Forte turning the ball over because fumbling hasn't traditionally been a problem for him but his first two fumbles of 2011 played a huge factor in this game not being a blowout victory.
Devin Hester is the best ever at returning kickoffs but he had a brutal night in that department, as did Johnny Knox when he was given a chance. Five total kickoff returns for 51 yards for the Bears combined. Pathetic.
3rd-and-1, 30 seconds left in the 3rd:
The offensive line was playing out of its mind and running the ball hadn't been an issue all night. So what does Mike Martz do? Runs a set where Tyler Clutts sets up as an obvious blocker and runs a long corner route with Kellen Davis. Keep the ball on the ground or hell, at least make it look like running is an option. This was pathetic and Martz is lucky it didn't come back to bite him in the ass.
At the halfway point of the year the Bears sit at 5-3 in the NFC's toughest division with multiple winnable games still on the schedule. A huge game awaits next week as the Lions come to Chicago but through eight games the Bears have put themselves in great position to be in the playoffs despite playing in the same division as football's only remaining unbeaten team, the Packers.
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