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3 things we learned about the Bears

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The Sports Xchange

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The game clock at Arrowhead Stadium was running out on Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears. With 7 minutes, 51 seconds to play in the fourth quarter, they trailed by 11 points and had not been able to dent the Kansas City Chiefs end zone.

But the Bears’ Cutler-led offense began moving on the K.C. defense, converting third downs and chewing up yardage. In the span of 2:47 in the fourth quarter, the Bears quarterback threw two touchdown passes, including the game-winner to running back Matt Forte with 18 seconds to play, and Chicago walked away with an 18-17 victory over a struggling Chiefs on Sunday afternoon.

The outcome was minor compared to what was a greater loss for the Chiefs. Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles is believed to have suffered a torn ACL in his right knee early in the third quarter. If tests on Monday confirm that diagnosis, Charles is done for the season.

The Bears know about injuries; going into Sunday’s game, they had 16 players on the league injury report. Cutler was playing with a rookie center making his first NFL appearance (draft choice Hroniss Grasu) and without the Bears top wide receivers, Alshon Jeffrey (hamstring) and Eddie Royal (ankle). But the often maligned Cutler threw the offense on his back and marched his club down the field.

He said the key was not allowing the young guys to think about what was happening.

“I tried not to huddle and kept them on the line and told them keep going, keep going,” said Cutler, who threw for 257 yards, those two touchdown passes and no interceptions. “It was go, go, go, just to keep them in the moment so they wouldn’t stop and think.”

Down 17-6, the Bears took over at their 12-yard line and began an 11-play, 88-yard drive that ended with a pretty 22-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marquess Wilson.

The Bears defense forced a three-and-out by the Chiefs, and Chicago took over at its 33-yard line with 2:04 to play in the game. Eight plays and 106 seconds later, Cutler connected with Forte for a 7-yard touchdown throw that sealed the comeback.

The Chiefs had the first possession of the second half and drove down the field, largely on the legs of Charles. But that’s when disaster struck on a first-and-goal run from the Chicago 9-yard line. Charles was stopped for no gain by outside linebacker Sam Acho, and on the play Charles suffered the right knee injury that appears to have ended his season.

What we learned about the Bears:

1. Much like the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos before them, the Bears are developing into the mold of a John Fox team. Given the injury situation, playing on the road in a loud stadium with a rookie center playing his first NFL game, the Bears had all sorts of excuses to stumble. They did in the first half, when they trailed 17-3 due to a poor offensive performance. Fox has always believed in tough, aggressive defense and a complementary offense that does not suffer a lot of turnovers. The Bears followed that formula in the second half when they stymied the Chiefs offense and, led by quarterback Jay Cutler, produced a significant come-from-behind victory.

2. Chicago’s defense continues to evolve under new coordinator Vic Fangio. The Chiefs did a good job of pressuring Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith and playing two-deep coverage that kept the Chiefs passing game largely to dink and dunk, averaging 6 yards an attempt. Even when the Bears lost one of their leading tacklers, outside linebacker Shea McClellin, in the third quarter, they battled through and kept hounding the Chiefs.

3. The Bears’ special teams helped the victory with a strong punting performance by Pat O’Donnell (47 yards), a pair of field goals by kicker Robbie Gould and excellent coverage performances. They came into the game as the worst kickoff coverage unit in the league, but the Chiefs ended up with just two returns for a total of 30 yards. On punt coverage, they allowed K.C. just 17 yards on three returns.

Etc.:

–K Robbie Gould hit a pair of field goals, including a 30-yarder in the third quarter that made him the leading scorer in in Bears history. Gould now has 1,118 points, allowing him to pass former kicker Kevin Butler at 1,116 points.

–RB Matt Forte continued to rack up offensive yards as a runner and receiver on Sunday against Kansas City. Forte entered the game with the most offensive yards in the NFL at 500. He ran 18 times for 71 yards against the Chiefs and caught five passes for 38 yards, including the winning score. That’s 23 touches for 109 yards.

–WR Cameron Meredith more than doubled his season stats when he grabbed four throws for 52 yards against Kansas City. The undrafted rookie out of Illinois State came into the game with three catches for 36 yards while playing in three of the Bears first four games.


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