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The Buccaneers squandered a lead with late miscues and penalties. Atlanta was down by 10 when Eric Weems went 102 yards on a return for a touchdown. As the game got more contentious the flags started flying. A horse collar tackle extended one Atlanta drive, and pass interference another. Tampa Bay was driving, and moving the ball in spite of penalties, but Atlanta picked the ball off (with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty) to end it.
Tampa bay self-destructed, something that I’ve been seeing a lot of this season. You could see that Suh’s penalty was another example of Detroit’s tendency to shoot themselves in the foot.
Jay Cutler went 21-for-26 with 234 yards and one touchdown while Matt Forte and Chester Taylor each ran for a score for the Bears (9-3), who have taken five straight and remain a game ahead of Green Bay for the top spot in the NFC North. The Packers beat the 49ers on Sunday to keep pace in the division.
Earl Bennett caught seven passes for 104 yards as Chicago improved to 5-1 on the road this season.
Drew Stanton, making the start courtesy of injuries to Matthew Stafford and Shaun Hill, had 178 yards and a score on 16-of-24 passing and added a rushing touchdown for the Lions (2-10), who have dropped five straight. Calvin Johnson caught three passes for 66 yards and a score in the loss.
Trailing by three points, Chicago started the winning drive at its own 40 after stopping Detroit on a 4th-and-1 with under 12 minutes to play.
The first play saw Cutler hit Forte for 20 yards and a 12-yard catch by Bennett on 3rd-and-4 moved the ball to the Detroit 22. Cutler then scrambled for eight yards and a questionable unnecessary roughness call on Ndamukong Suh gave Chicago a 1st-and-goal at the seven. Cutler found Manumaleuna near the goal line and he took it in for a 24-20 lead with 8:39 left.
Stefan Logan ripped off a 60-yard return near midfield, and though the Lions managed one first down, Stanton was sacked for nine yards and a punt followed on 4th-and-16.
The Bears got the ball back with 5:17 to play and picked up four first downs in order to kill off the rest of the clock.
After an exchange of punts to start the game, the Lions went ahead on a three- yard touchdown run by Stanton with just over 6 1/2 minutes left in the first. Detroit had a short field to work with as Chicago had to punt deep in its own territory and Logan returned it 19 yards to the Chicago 38.
Chicago responded with a long drive of its own to tie the game. The 13 plays covered 76 yards and was capped when Taylor went around the left end untouched from a yard out with three seconds left in the opening frame. A defensive pass interference call on Detroit in the end zone set up the score.
Detroit came right back to take a 10-7 lead on a 50-yard field goal from Dave Rayner with 9:31 left in the first half.
The Bears answered right back to take the lead. Facing a 3rd-and-1 at the Detroit 47, Bennett caught a short pass and took it 33 yards down to the Detroit 14. The next play saw Forte take a pitch out to the left and race into the end zone for a 14-10 game with 4:40 left in the half.
Detroit later got the ball back at its own nine-yard line. The first play saw Jahvid Best take a handoff into the pile, but he kept on his feet, bounced out to the right and raced 45 yards. The next snap saw Johnson take a short pass and stiff arm two tacklers on his way into the end zone on a 46-yard score to give the Lions a 17-14 edge heading into the break.
Chicago started the second half with the ball, but Cutler fumbled on the second play and Detroit recovered at Chicago’s nine. However, the Lions were unable to move the ball and Rayner booted a 25-yard field goal for a 20-14 lead.
After the Bears pinned the Lions deep, Detroit had to punt from its own end zone and Devin Hester nearly broke free, but was tripped up by the punter after a 30-yard return to the Detroit 31. Chicago went in reverse thanks to two penalties and a sack, but a 54-yard field goal just inside the right post from Robbie Gould made it 20-17 with 2:40 left in the third.
Stanton was the third Lions’ quarterback to make a start this year…Gould’s 54-yard field goal was a career-high…Chicago hosts the Patriots next Sunday…The Lions host Green Bay next week…The Bears have taken six straight against the Lions…Logan totaled 153 yards in the game…Cliff Avril sacked Cutler three times in the game…Johnson has 12 touchdowns on the season, which ties a career-high set in 2008…Forte finished the game with 64 yards on 13 carries and added two catches for 36 yards.
The Atlanta Falcons (9-2) are tied with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4) at the half. The two teams had almost identical stats for the first quarter in every respect. And they both scored in the second quarter, Tampa Bay, in their hideous throwback Dreamsicle uniforms, drove down to score with 20 seconds left in the half.
This is a real battle, a divisional game, that Tampa needs to remain in playoff contention, and emotions are running high. There’s been several scraps, and a couple of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
The second half promises to be a real dogfight, and I’ll come back at the end, to let you know how it all comes out.
Should the Buccaneers prevail, the Bears would share an NFC best 9-3 record with Atlanta and the New Orleans Saints
The Bears had an uphill battle all day against the Detroit Lions, but came out on top. Detroit lives up to their M.O. this year, a 45 minute team. For most of this game, the Lions gave the Chicago all they could handle. Without stats in front of me, I’d award game balls to Robbie Gould, who made his career best 54 yarder, D.J. Moore with a sack and at least two passes defended, Earl Bennett who also a career day in catches and yardage, and Jay Cutler who managed a good game, under constant pressure from an aggressive Lions defense.
Lions special teams are continuing to dominate and they have great field position inside Bears territory. Detroit is scrapping and gets a tough first down, at the 34. And the Bears get their second sack by D.J. Moore whose made some nice plays today. An incomplete pass follows, and he tosses a screen to Tony Scheffler that’s well short of first down yardage, so they’ll punt.
Devin Hester lets it go for a touchback, and the Bears will start from their 20. They won’t be gaining any ground on the Packers no matter what, as they’ve broken it open in Lambaugh to take a 31-16 lead.
From their 20, with 5:17 remaining, Matt Forte runs for twn and a first down. From the 30, an illegal snap penalty takes them back five yards. First and fifteen, and a Greg Olsen screen brings it back to the 30 yard line. Earl Bennett gets another first, and the Bears are controlling the clock. Devin Hester gets five tough yards on a reverse, that could have gone for a tckle in the backfield. The Lions stop the clock with 2:48 left.
From the 50, Jay Cutler finds Johnny Knox, who gets just enough for the first. The Lions stop the clock for the last time, and after a no-gain by Matt Forte, the Bears let time run out to the two minute warning.
A screen to Brandon Manumaleuna gains the Bears another first down, and Chicago runs out the clock for the win.
Robbie Gould’s leg seems stronger than ever this year, and he kicks another for a touchback.
After a Drew Stanton complete to Brandon Pettigrew, Maurice Morris fumbles, but Detroit recovers, and Stanton connects again for a first down. Jahvid Best pushes free for seven,and Stanton scrambles near the first down marker on the last play of the third quarter.
To start the fourth quarter Stanton tries a sneak but comes up short, on fourth down and an inch, he gets the first, and the shoving around the pile starts up.
First and ten from the 50 and they flip to Maurice Morris for five. Julius Peppers runs him down. on the next play they get close, but the Bears shut down the run on third down. Detroit starts to go for another fourth and one, but calls timeout before the snap.
Detroit goes for it, but throws incomplete on a pass broken up by D.J. Moore. The Bears take over from their 40, and Cutler hits Forte for 20 yards. Another draw to Chesrer Taylor goes nowhere. A dump off to Taylor and it’s third and four. And once again, Earl Bennett comes up big when it counts. His catch ,makes it first down at the 22. Cutler rolls out, and gets the first, then is creamed by Ndamukong Suh, and gets an extra 15 yards on an unneccessary roughness call.
He hits Brandon Manumaleuna for a touchdown on the next play. Bears lead 24-20
On the ensuing kickoff Danieal Mnning brings it out to the 28 . With plenty of time left, Jay Cutler hanss off to Mtt Forte for three. A quick pitch to Earl Bennett brings the ball to the 39 for a first down. On a draw, Matt Forte gains four, then cuts back for another two. Cutler scrambles for the first, as the Lions are coming on the blitz.
Chester Taylor tackled for a loss, and it's second and 11 from midfield.The Bears seem committed to the run, as Taylor goes for another two yards. Cutler takes his third sack, and the punting unot comes out.
Maynard punts and the Bears down it at the three yard line.
Jahvid Best runs for two, and again for two, and Brandon Pettigrew drops a pass incomplete for a three and out.
Devin hester receives the punt at the Bears 40, and he returns it 29 yards. Only the punter prevents the touchdown. A holding penalty on Greg Olsen brings them back to the 41. Chester Taylor takes it seven to make it second and 13. Another Blitz catches Cutler, and that's the 4th sack on him. A delay of game makes it third and 24, and the Bears offense is in trouble.
Robbie Gould just makes a 54 yarder to cut the Lions lead to 20-17.
At halftime the Green Bay Packers lead the 49ers 14-13.
The Lions have lost the last two games they played, in which they led at the half' The Bears will receive to open the third quarter.
Devin Hester takes it out to the 21. lions special teams have been getting to Hester quickly. matt Forte gets four on the handoff, and Jay Cutler loses the ball on the next play. The Lions Cliff Avril recovers at the nine.
the Lions have first and goal and their first two plays go nowhere, third and goal and they gain two. The field goal unit comes on and Dave Rayner hitas a 25 yarder.
Dean Stanton hits Jahvid Best for a screen and he takes it all the way to midfield. the Bears stuff the next run , and Stanton hits Brandon Pettigrew, third and three and Danieal Manning breaks up a pass, and the Lions punt.
The Bears will start on their own 12, with 2:37 left in the half. A quick strike to Johnny Knox goes 20 and he almost broke away, and a dump pass to Matt Forte goes 16 yards to bring it to the two-minute warning. The Bears are continuing the ir new found tendency to make big yards after the catch.
With 1:52 left in the half, Cutler goes incomplete to Devin Hester, then a holding and a roughing the passer penalty offset, and Knox gets to the Lions 47 and it's third and two. Cutler goes incomplete and the Bears punt with1:05 on the clock.
From their nine yard line, Dean stanton hands off to Jahvid Best who goes on long run, and then Calvin Johnson takes oit the rest of the way for a two play, 91 yard touchdown drive. The Bears defense are going to have plenty to talk about at halftime.
Devin Hester brings it out to the 24 with 29 seconds left. Jay Cutler takes a knee, to end the half.
The Lions start the second quarter with a nice drive, but the Bears push them back to the 43, on a pass interference penalty, but the Lions regain the lead on a 50 yard field goal by Dave Rayner, their second string kicker.
Devin Hester takes the kickoff out to the 17. Chester Taylor runs for six, and then a shovel pass from jay Cutler to Tylor gets a firt down. Another screen for Taylor gets nothing, and an offside on Turk Mcbride makes it first and five. Taylor brings it nine yards for a first down near midfield.
A tipped pass goes incomplete, then Cheter Taylor fights for nine yards to make it third and one. And then Earl Bennett takes a short pass and refuses to be tackled, dragging defenders to the 14. From there, Matt Forte goes around end and puts it in for a touchdown. Robbie Gould makes it 14-10 Bears.
The Bears receive and Danieal Manning brings it back to the 24. And Devin Hester is down at the line of scrimmage after a screen. Second down and incomplete under pressure.Jay Cutler hits Earl Bennett who stretches towards the first down marker, and gets it. First down and Matt Forte sprints for 17 to the 49 yard line.
A wildcat handoff gets five, and Cutler calls another timeout. a pitch to Chester Taylor gets seven, and the Bears have a first down. Taylor gets another three. Cutler goes to the end zone to a double covered Hester for an incomplete. On the next play he finds Bennett for 14. From the 22, Matt Forte gets two up the gut. A quick pass over the rush hits Earl Bennett and he gets to the seven.
Matt Forte gets two on the next play and it’s second and goal, from the five. Johnny Knox is interfered with in the end zone, so it’s first and goal from the one.
And Chester Taylor goes around end, for the touchdown.
The Bears won the coin toss and defered to the Lions. Robbie Gould kicked a touchback, the Lions start from their own 20, and are immediately flagged for a false start. Jahvid Best gets one yard up thre middle, and a screen paas to Brandon Pettigrew gets a first down. Jerome Felton gets two, followed by Maurice Morris for three. Drew Sutanton finds Nate Burleson over the middle for another first.
The next play is called back for a hold, and it's first and 20 from the 33. Morris takes the ball tothe 41, up the middle. The Lions are rotating backs, they may be planning to wearout thw defensive line. Calvin johnson is well covered by Charles Tillman, and there's an incomplete. Henry Melton with a neutral zone infraction, followed by Stanton underthrowing Calvin Johnson.
After the punt the Bears will start around their own 12. Forte picks up four, up the middle, then loses one on the next play. Third down and the Bears call a timeout. The sellout crown is making some noise, and Cutler is sacked by Cliff Avril. And Brad Maynard gets off a nice punt, but Stefan Logan makes a nice return to the Chicago 38. Best comes around end for eight. A quick screen to Best goes incomplete, and on third and two Dean Stanton scrambles for a first down, brought down by Brian Urlacher.
On first and ten from the 24, stanton calls timeout, as the play clock runs down. After the timeout, Stanton hits Burleson for first and goal.Mauricce Morris gets four up the middle, and on the next play is forced to throw out of bounds. From the shotgun, Drew stanton takes it in for a touchdown.
The Bears and Lions are less than 30 minutes form kickoff. We’ll be provding updates throughout the game. We’ll also keep an eye on the Packers/ 49ers game, and later on the Falcons/ Buccaneers game, providing updates wherever possible.
In ther meantime, keep looking here for Chicago Bears news and game updates.
Sports Network | December 2, 2010
(Sports Network) – A signature win and undefeated record within the division have put the Chicago Bears in the driver’s seat of the NFC North heading into the season’s final month. The surprise front-runners now try to build off possibly their best performance of the year when they march into Ford Field this Sunday to battle a hard-luck Detroit Lions team that’s once again having to deal with an injury at the quarterback position.
Despite having prevailed in seven of their first 10 games of this 2010 campaign, the Bears still had difficulty selling themselves as a bona fide playoff contender to the general public, primarily due to a questionable schedule and an offense that’s been plagued by inconsistency throughout the season. Chicago stated its case in a big way this past week, however, by delivering a convincing 31-26 victory over a previously-surging Philadelphia squad.
The win was the fourth in a row for the Bears, who haven’t reached the postseason since a Super Bowl run in 2006, and moved Lovie Smith’s charges a game in front of Green Bay for the NFC South’s top spot after the Packers fell to conference-leading Atlanta last Sunday.
A defense that’s been rock-solid all year long came through once more for Chicago in Week 12, generating four sacks of the Eagles’ Michael Vick and harassing the comeback quarterback into his first interception of the season. The offense did its part as well, getting four touchdown passes out of field general Jay Cutler and 117 rushing yards on just 14 carries from running back Matt Forte.
While the Bears have restored themselves to legitimacy following three straight down years, their longtime rivals from the Great Lakes Region continue to endure rough times. The Lions secured their 10th consecutive losing season with a 45-24 Thanksgiving Day setback to powerhouse New England and enter Sunday’s clash having dropped four in a row.
Having already spent the majority of 2010 without No. 1 quarterback Matthew Stafford due to a twice-separated shoulder, Detroit will also be without capable understudy Shaun Hill for the time being after the veteran fractured the index finger on his right throwing hand against the Patriots. As a result, the Lions will be forced to pin their hopes on project Drew Stanton, a former Michigan State star who’s seen little game action since being taken by the team in the second round of the 2007 draft.
Stanton will be making the second start of his undistinguished four-year career on Sunday, having previously filled in for an ailing Stafford in a 20-6 defeat at San Francisco in the penultimate game of last season. The 26-year- old did do a competent job when pressed into relief duty in a loss to the New York Giants back in Week 6, a contest in which Hill was knocked out with a broken left arm, throwing for 222 yards and a touchdown with one interception on 19-of-34 passing.
He’ll be attempting to get the Lions to snap a painfully-long 14-game losing streak against fellow NFC North inhabitants, which included a disputed 19-14 verdict to the Bears in Chicago in this year’s season opener. Detroit had an apparent go-ahead touchdown pass from Hill to Calvin Johnson with 31 seconds remaining in that matchup, but the score was overturned when the replay official ruled the star wide receiver did not maintain possession throughout the catch.
The Lions’ last triumph over a division foe came against the Bears back on Oct. 28, 2007, a 16-7 decision at Soldier Field.
Chicago, on the other hand, has won all three of its bouts versus NFC North members this season, having also bested both Green Bay and Minnesota at home.
Chicago leads the all-time series with Detroit, which dates back to the 1930 season, by a 92-64-5 count and have won the last five matchups between the storied rivals following the previously-noted 19-14 decision at Solider Field in the season opener. The Bears put together home-and-home sweeps of the Lions in both 2008 and 2009, with Detroit taking both meetings in 2007 that included a 37-27 victory at Ford Field.
Smith is 9-4 against the Lions during his tenure as the Bears’ head coach, while Detroit’s Jim Schwartz has never beaten either Smith or Chicago in three lifetime tries.
WHEN THE BEARS HAVE THE BALL
After failing to establish an effective ground game over the season’s first half, Chicago has actually done a very solid job running the ball in recent weeks. The team has rushed for at least 130 yards in each of its past three wins, with primary carrier Forte (684 rushing yards, 34 receptions, 7 total TD) backing up a workmanlike 25-attempt, 97-yard effort in a Week 11 ousting of Miami with last Sunday’s outstanding showing against the Eagles. The third- year pro is also an accomplished pass-catcher out of the backfield, as the Lions found out when he racked up a career-high 151 receiving yards and scored two touchdowns on seven grabs in the Week 1 meeting. Cutler (2311 passing yards, 16 TD, 10 INT), who compiled a season-best 372 passing yards in that season-opening tilt, has been good as well during the Bears’ current winning run, having thrown for nine scores with just three interceptions over the four-game tear. Second-year wideout Johnny Knox (40 receptions, 740 yards, 2 TD) has been both Cutler’s favorite target and the offense’s main deep threat, with wide receivers Devin Hester (31 receptions, 2 TD) and Earl Bennett (32 receptions, 3 TD) and tight end Greg Olsen (29 receptions, 5 TD) looming as secondary options in a spread-it-around system. The front line has been shaky in protection over the course of this season, and Cutler was sacked four times by Detroit earlier in the year.
Chicago’s improved rushing attack could be in for another efficient day this week, as the Lions rank just 24th in the NFL in run defense (128.6 ypg) and are giving up an average of 4.6 yards per carry to opponents. New England did most of its damage via the air on Thanksgiving, however, with quarterback Tom Brady carving up a submissive Detroit secondary for 341 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Patriots’ barrage. Cornerback Alphonso Smith (37 tackles, 5 INT, 8 PD) had an especially forgettable holiday for the Lions, with the over-aggressive coverman being personally responsible for three of those scores. The unit does have one obvious strength in its ability to pressure the quarterback, however, having recorded a respectable 28 sacks for the year and receiving a monster debut season from rookie tackle Ndamukong Suh (45 tackles, 8 sacks, 1 INT). The team will likely be without one of its best pass rushers in veteran end Kyle Vanden Bosch (49 tackles, 4 sacks), whose status is in doubt due to a neck problem, but reserve Lawrence Jackson (14 tackles, 3.5 sacks) has been cleared to practice after being held out of the New England game with a concussion. He had picked up 2 1/2 sacks in his last two contests prior to missing Week 12.
WHEN THE LIONS HAVE THE BALL
The Lions have been a pass-oriented team this season, and it will be interesting to see if or how much they deviate from the game plan with the lightly-seasoned Stanton (233 passing yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) under center. Detroit is averaging only 84.9 rushing yards per game (28th overall) for the year, but did produce a season-best 129 yards on the ground against New England despite rookie speedster Jahvid Best (382 rushing yards, 49 receptions, 5 total TD) not having a touch as he continues to deal with a lingering turf toe ailment. Serviceable backup Maurice Morris (96 rushing yards, 2 TD, 16 receptions) had 55 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries in Best’s place, however, and figures to carry the load in the backfield again this week. Stanton won’t be lacking quality players to throw to in his second lifetime start, as Johnson (59 receptions, 806 yards) is one of the game’s premier receivers and leads the NFC with 11 touchdown catches, while fellow wideout Nate Burleson (40 receptions, 4 TD) and second-year tight end Brandon Pettigrew (55 receptions, 3 TD) have also been reliable sources for the league’s No. 6 passing offense (257.8 ypg). Tight end Tony Scheffler (32 receptions, 1 TD), who had a team-best six catches for 43 yards in the Week 1 loss to Chicago, is expected to return from a rib injury that kept him out on Thanksgiving and provide another outlet for Stanton.
Don’t expect the injury-plagued Lions to move down the field with ease on a fierce Chicago stop unit that’s yielded the second-fewest points in the NFL (15.6 ppg), stands first in pass efficiency defense, second against the run (80.5 ypg) and fourth in total yards allowed (300.2 ypg). The Bears have two tremendously-rangy linebackers in middle man Brian Urlacher (77 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 INT) and weakside starter Lance Briggs (58 tackles, 1 sack, 2 INT) who can cut off both the running and passing lanes, as well as a pair of excellent rush ends in offseason acquisition Julius Peppers (34 tackles, 6 sacks, 1 INT) and Israel Idonije (32 tackles, 7 sacks). Cornerbacks Charles Tillman (58 tackles, 3 INT, 10 PD) and Tim Jennings (45 tackles, 1 INT) have also held their own in a group coordinated by one-time Detroit head coach Rod Marinelli, while nickel back D.J. Moore (28 tackles) has come up with a team- best four of Chicago’s season total of 16 interceptions, tied for second-most in the league. The Bears have permitted just eight passing touchdowns on the season, second only to New Orleans for the least in the NFL.
With Detroit having to go deep down the depth chart at quarterback and possibly being without one its better playmakers in Best, the Chicago defense becomes a must-play this week. The Bears may rely more on the running game in this matchup, which bodes very well for Forte’s prospects but limits those of Cutler, who’s more of a lower-end option at his position. Knox is still worth using at wide receiver, however, and Hester’s value is at its highest in leagues that will count the dangerous return man’s yardage. As for the Lions, Johnson should remain in weekly lineups but could see his numbers shrink due to the quarterback switch and Chicago’s strong play against the pass, and Morris is the best bet for production at the running back spot. Steer clear of Stanton and keep Burleson on the bench for this game, though Pettigrew offers some upside at tight end. Detroit kicker Jason Hanson won’t play again this week as he continues to recover from a knee injury, leaving the unappealing Dave Rayner to handle those duties.
The Bears also faced a team coerced into using a third-string quarterback a few weeks back and pitched a shutout against the Tyler Thigpen-led Miami Dolphins, and a similar outcome could be in store this time around. The short- handed Lions will have a tough time getting anything going on Chicago’s sturdy defense, and they’re simply not good enough on that side of the ball to hold an opponent down for an entire game. Look for the Bears to play it relatively conservative and rely on the defense and field position to grind out another victory to help solidify their suddenly very real playoff aspirations.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bears 17, Lions 9
News And Notes : The Bears and Lions kickoff at noon Central Sunday, in Ford Field. As previously noted, Pisa Tinoisamoa will not suit up. It's being reported he's experiencing some soreness and swelling in the right knee he injured twice last season. It doesn't look as though there's any new injury to the knee, and it may be a case of giving a banged up starter a game off, against a weaker opponent.
Kyle Vanden Bosch is listed as questionable for Detroit. If Vanden Bosch is a game day scratch, the Lions are going to be missing one of their biggest defensive weapons. Vanden Bosch had 10 tackles against the Bears in the season opener.
Even though the Lions play indoors, and the Bears have been practicing indoors earlier in the week, they moved practice outside Friday. After the Lions game Sunday, the Bears host the New England Patriots the following weekend. Maybe they thought they'd get in some practice in less generous weather, to get used to playing outdoors in December. Aside from their home games in Soldier Field, they've got one game in Green Bay at Lambaugh, another stadium not known for welcoming weather.
Jay Cutler will not be fined for his outburst at the referee during last Sunday's victory against the Philadelphia Eagles. He was assessed a 15 yard 'unsporstsmanlike conduct' penalty after the refs failed to call pass interference, on a play where Matt Forte was mugged going up the middle for a pass. Presumably, the league didn't want to see any more televised replays of the obviously blown call.
Other Games Of Note : Sometimes it's not enough to cheer on your favorite team. Often, especially later in the season, it becomes incumbent upon us to wish other teams ill. With that in mind, here's a few games that could effect the fortunes of the Bears bid for post season play.
San Francisco 49ers (4-7) @ Green Bay Packers (7-4) - Of course, no Bears fan needs any prompting to wish the Packers misfortune. But while the Bears enjoy a one game lead over Green Bay in the NFC North, it's a neck and neck race to the finish. It would be nice to be able to visit Lambeau Field on Jan. 2, with the division already sewn up. So let's all root for the 49ers to surprise theworld, by beating the Pack in Green Bay. While they got off to a slow start, the 49ers are starting to come around a bit, even if it's only in the lowly NFC West.
Atlanta Falcons (9-2) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4) - This is a 3:15 (CST) game, so if you're still in the mood to watch football after the Bears game, check this one out. The Buccaneers are a surprise this year, and have an outside shot at a playoff berth. The Falcons are on everybodys' hit list in the NFC South, and this could be a very intense game. A Tampa win, combined with a Bears win, would give the Bears a tie for best record in the conference. Go Bucs!
New York Jets (9-2) @ New England Patriots (9-2) - This Monday night game could actually shape up as a very important game for the Bears. We see both of these teams before the season is out, but more importantly, we see New England on the following Sunday. If you absolutely have to play the Patriots, this is the ideal scheduling, and the ideal opponent for them. These two teams are tied for first place in the AFC East, and the bruising Jets defense will throwing everything they have at Tom Brady and the Pats offense. And then New England has to come to Soldier Field, after a short week.
The best part of watching this one: it doesn't matter from a Bears point of view who wins or loses. Just that they both go all out.
Tinoisamoa had a recurring soreness in his right knee, a byproduct of two significant injuries in the same area last year, and missed practice on Wednesday, was limited Thursday and did not participate at all on Friday according to ESPN Chicago.
Nick Roach will start in Tinoisamoa’s place.
The only other player listed on the Bears injury report this week was wide receiver Rashied Davis, who was limited with a shoulder injury. Davis wasn’t listed Friday, however, so should be good to go on Sunday.
Injury Report : LB Pisa Tinoisamoa (knee) was held to limited participation today, but is expected to start Sunday. The Detroit Lions who, announced earlier in the day that kicker Jason Hanson is out for the season, had the following players on their report: Quarterbacks Matthew Stafford (shoulder) and Shaun Hill (finger) did not participate, and are not expected to dress Sunday. DE Kyle Vanden Bosch (neck) and T Gosder Cherilus (knee) were also held out. RB Jahvid Best (toe), WR Nate Burleson (hamstring), DeAndre Levy (groin), and TE Tony Scheffler (rib), were held to limited participation.
Insult Report : None today, at least from Chicago Bear linebackers. Reporters tried to draw out a comment from Lance Briggs, given the Lions ongoing woes and Nate Burleson's guarantee of a Detroit victory. he laughed it off calling it a, "trap question".
Brian Urlacher, when asked the same question, said, "I think we're going to win, but I'm not going to guarantee it."
Part of what makes Lovie Smith a successful (yes, I said 'successful') head coach, is that his level-headedness seems to transcend to his players. Like Lovie, they bring a mature, business like philosophy to their work. Of course, Bears players were aware of how they were perceived by the media earlier in the year, even while they were winning. And of course they know, those same reporters are in the locker room, and on television asking them about the Super Bowl.
They are one of the few groups who seem to grasp how much of sports reporting (especially in between games) is just figuring out how to get a rise out of athletes, and reporting it as 'news'. This team is one of the few who never seem to take the bait, when phrases like 'message game', 'playing for respect', 'something to prove', etc. are dangled in front of them.
The goal is always clear, go out and play your best game, regardless of whose on the other side of the ball. They don't think about making a statement, or whether people believe in them or not. They don't care what's being said in other locker rooms, and they don't waste time worrying about possible playoff scenarios. They don't get distracted.
In an environment where everyone is waiting for you to slip up, that's a huge advantage.
Shameless Self-Promotion : If you haven't already, I invite you to sing along with me, in my musical salute to the Detroit Lions.
According to detroitlions.com, the Lions' 19-year veteran kicker Jason Hanson has been placed on injured reserve. Hanson, the Lions' all-time leading scorer, was inactive for the last three games, due to a knee injury suffered against the New York Jets on Nov. 17.
After the announcement that third-string quarterback Drew Stanton would start Sunday, receiver Nate Burleson guaranteed a Lions victory over the Chicago Bears this Sunday. So maybe this news will convince him that the Lions are Super Bowl bound this year.
Injury Report: Once again for the Bears, everyone was in attendance for practice. Pisa Tinoisamoa dressed but did not participate. The Lions announced that Drew Stanton their third-string QB would start on Sunday, due to injuries to Matthew Stafford (shoulder), and Shaun Hill (finger). Other Lions held out of practice were DE Kyle Vanden Bosch (neck), and K Jason Hansen (knee). RB Jahvid Best (toe), WR Nate Burleson (hamstring), LB DeAndre Levy (groin), and TE Tony Scheffler (rib), all were held to limited participation.
Insult Report: Though Drew Stanton wasn't thrilled to hear it, Nate Burleson guaranteed a Lions win Sunday. According to Detroit News.com, Burleson guaranteed the win, immediately after it was announced Stanton would make the start. "Yeah, I said we're going to win," Burleson said. "We only have five games left and my goal is to finish 7-9. Like I've been saying all year, we don't have a team on our schedule that we can't beat."
Maybe not, but there's nine teams that were on the schedule, they didn't beat.
Drew Stanton also had some carefully chosen words, regarding his work with Mike Martz, when Martz was the offensive coordinator in Detroit. It seems Martz tried to change basically all of Stanton's mechanics. Asked if he retained any of the fundamentals he was taught by Martz he said, "Not a single one."
They Couldn't Wait Until After The Patriots Came To Town? The Chicago Park District has replaced the sod in Soldier Field. The field was a little 'choppy' Sunday against Philadelphia, after the Prep Bowl was played there the preceding Friday. If Seattle can have its '12th Man' be it's noisy crowd, why shouldn't Chicago have itself an extra home field advantage?
Bears fans have made a cottage industry of dissing Jay Cutler since he arrived here last year. Some of this criticism has been justified, particularly last year when Cutler threw more to other teams’ players than he had TD passes, or in his four-interception game against the Redskins earlier this year.
It appears Cutler has at last turned the corner and become the leader that the Bears need. For his great game against the Eagles on Sunday, Cutler was named NFC offensive player of the week.
Cutler completed 14 of 21 passes for 247 yards and four touchdowns en route to a career-high 146.2 passer rating. The four touchdown passes tied a career high for Cutler, who now has three four-TD games as a Bear, which is tied for second most in franchise history.
This is the third time Cutler has won this award, and his second time as a Bear; he also won it last year for his 2009 Week 16 performance against the Vikings. Showing how the Bears offense is starting to click, it is the fourth time a Bears player has won a Player of the Week award Matt Forté (Offensive, Week 1), Devin Hester (Special Teams, Week 10) and Julius Peppers (Defensive, Week 11); Peppers, as previously noted in this StoryStream™, has added Defensive Player of the Month honors for November.
One of the biggest reasons for the Bears’ great play and 4-0 record in the month of November was the play of defensive end Julius Peppers, showing why the Bears threw a huge free-agent contract at him.
For his efforts, Peppers was named NFC Defensive Player Of The Month. He recorded four sacks, tied for second in the entire league, and racked up 29 yards in losses for opponents in those sacks, leading the NFC and fourth in the league. He also had 13 tackles, a deflected pass that led to an interception, and had two other tackles for losses during November.
This is the third time Peppers has won this award; he also won it in November 2004 and October 2006. He becomes the first Bears player to win it in more than 20 years — the last was Trace Armstrong in September 1990. The only other Bears player to win this award since it began in 1986 was Wilber Marshall (December 1986).
The Chicago Bears meet the Detroit Lions Sunday at 12:00 p.m. CST at Ford Field in Detroit. The streaking Bears (8-3) have won all four of their games since the bye week. The Lions (2-9) have struggled all season, most notably at quarterback. Matthew Stafford is out indefinitely, with shoulder problems that began (this year) in the season opener in Chicago when Julius Peppers dropped him for a sack.
Those problems appear to be getting worse for the Lions with Shaun Hill sitting out practice. It's being reported that his right index finger is taped up, and his status for Sunday is uncertain. Third string QB Drew Stanton took snaps in practice Tuesday.
While Bears players don't like to use phrases like 'message game', it's certain they remember the criticisms of the first meeting for these two teams, when Calvin Johnson let go of a seeming touchdown catch that was ruled incomplete. That non-catch sealed the victory for the Bears; many people viewed that as a bad call.
If the Bears see another third-string quarterback, as they did when Chad Henne and Chad Pennington were unavailable for the Miami Dolphins and Tyler Thigpen played, I'm sure we'll hear more observations about the poor nature of the Bears competition.
To which I'm gonna have to say: Tough.
The Bears lost two of their three starting linebackers in the first game against the Green Bay Packers in 2009. Brian Urlacher was gone for the year and Pisa Tinoisamoa was barely active, and I don't recall anyone wanting to put an asterisk on any of their losses. This years Bears squad has been incredibly healthy, and this late in the season it makes a difference.
While this has all the earmarks of a 'trap game' for the Bears, who could be looking forward to when they host the New England Patriots in week 14, I'm sure that Lovie Smith will use the criticisms from these two teams' Week One meeting to motivate them.
Keep looking at this space all week long, up to and including game time. We'll keep you updated and informed.
And by the way? If you have the NFL Network, they're showing the Bears/Eagles game on Replay at noon CST on Wednesday.
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