Opponent: Minnesota Vikings
Record: 8-3 (2-1)
7-4 (2-0) Green Bay Packers
6-5 (2-1) Minnesota Vikings
4-7 (0-4) Detroit Lions
With this week's win and Green Bay's loss to the Giants, the Bears are back on top of the NFC North standings. I've also added in the division records of each team in parentheses since the regular season records are still pretty close. It's going to be an interesting close to the season in the NFC North.
My initial reaction to this game is mostly positive. All phases of the game seemed pretty solid. The only real concern I have is that we lost 5 starting players due to injuries that did not come back to finish the game. We'll have to keep an eye out over the next week and hopefully most of those injuries aren't very serious.
Jay Cutler was back with a vengeance. His only interception came from a bad tip off his receiver's hands so it wasn't a bad read or anything he could do. The first play from scrimmage was a run. Matt Forte fumbled and Minnesota recovered and turned it into 3 points. There are a lot of teams that would have shied away from the run when that happened and I'm happy to say that Mike Tice did not. The Bears really stuck with the run and only allowed one sack all game against a good defense. This was also after a lot of shaking up on the offensive line. The Bears benched Chilo Rachal (Left Guard) and Gabe Carimi (Right Tackle) after their poor performance last week. Rachal the quit the team (pouted) and tried to come back a day later. The Bears decided that they would have none of it and benched him for the year. Then in the game, both our right and left guards got hurt so Carimi was back in as right guard, a position he'd never played before, and did a pretty decent job. The game plan was very good. Lots of short passes and runs to lighten the load on the line and keep the pass rush off of Cutler. Hopefully Matt Forte, Lance Louis, and Chris Spencer will be able to come back against a very good Seattle pass rush next week.
Seems like they were out to remind everyone that last week was just a glitch. They held Adrian Peterson to only 23 yards in the first half, and added 3 more takeaways to their league high total. The Vikings didn't even get a first down until somewhere near the end of the first half. Tim Jennings almost got another interception, but upon review it had tapped the ground before bouncing up. That guy is always right there and ready for them this year. "Peanut" Tillman went out with an ankle injury. Hopefully he's back next week.
Even though Devin Hester went out early with a concussion, special teams had a great game. Julius Peppers added yet another field goal block to his resume, and Eric Weems had some good returns. But the special teams game ball should go to Adam Podlesh. He not only got over his punting slump with some great punts this week, he also ran the ball in for a 2 point conversion. The Bears were set up to go for the extra point, but noticed that the Vikings were light on one side so they faked the field goal and Podlesh ran it in for 2. I'm pretty sure that's the first time I've seen a punter run through someone to get into the end zone.
Great job all around this week in an important divisional win. Next up are the Seahawks in Chicago. The Seahawks have another very good defense, but as long as we get some of our o-line depth back and stick to the same game plan as this week, we should be just fine. Bear Down!