September 20, 2009


Wow. That was a great win by the Bears. And one they really needed.

Although I predicted before the season that the Bears would start 0-2 and then rebound to make the playoffs, with Urlacher going down in Week 1, a loss to Pittsburgh might have sent them into a tailspin.

Instead, the Bears showed a ton of resilience and somehow beat the Steelers 17-14 in a game in which they were seemingly dominated. I would have guessed that the Bears had been outgained like 2 to 1, but in reality it was only 308 to 275. Seemed much worse.

With the Denver Broncos winning today -- led by an unspectacular but very efficient effort by Kyle Orton -- to go to 2-0, I can't even imagine what kind of stories we would have been in for had the Bears dropped to 0-2 with Cutler. But Cutler responded with the kind of performance that makes you think, Hey, maybe this guy was worth Orton, two firsts, and a third.

Cutler finished 27-of-38 for 236 yards. Sure the yards per attempt aren't impressive, but the completion percentage and two touchdowns (against no interceptions) were. As was his 104.7 QB rating. And he kept plays alive with subtle, deft movement in the pocket, something that I'm not sure I've ever seen in a Bears quarterback.

So Cutler obviously gets a game ball. But so do his two favorite targets. The first, surprisingly, was rookie wide receiver Johnny Knox. The second, even more surprisingly, was second-year tight end Kellen Davis. I've always been a Kellen Davis fan, and I'm not sure if Desmond Clark was hurt or if was just the veteran's shaky performance in the opener, but I'm glad they gave Davis a chance. The mammoth tight end (6-foot-6, 259 punds), who had zero career catches coming in, had five receptions for 38 yards, including a 6-yard score for the Bears first points at the close of the first half, which capped a 13-play, 97-yard drive. With Greg Olsen on the other side the Bears appear to have a difficult-to-matchup-with two tight end set. Both are just 24 years old.

Knox, as you probably know if you're a regular reader, was one of my draft favorites (if you're willing to scroll, see here and, in the very last paragraph, here) and it was great to see the Bears put him to use. He appears to be the only receiver willing to step up and make plays, and he is quickly becoming the one that Cutler looks to.

While it was a great team effort defensively, Alex Brown, to me, really stood out. Not only did he have both of the Bears sacks, but he also was pretty much single-handedly responsible for turning what might have been a 27-yard field goal gimme into a 38-yard attempt, which Steelers kicker Jeff Reed had the decency to miss. With Pittsburgh at the Bears' 10, Brown stuffed Willie Parker for a 1-yard loss on 2nd down before sacking Roethlisberger for a 9-yard loss on 3rd down. Hopefully, whatever injury Brown sustained towards the end of the game was not serious. After losing Urlacher last week, I don't know if I could handle Brown going down.

Lastly, I was annoyed throughout the game by the sheer volume of Steelers fans in attendance. (However, maybe all those Pittsburgh fans made Reed -- who honked both his fourth quarter field goal attempts -- think he was kicking in the notoriously difficult Heinz Field.) Especially during the first quarter, there were numerous moments that judging by the crowd reaction, you would've thought the game was being played in Pittsburgh. Now I know how Pirates fans feel when the Cubs come to town.

Only in this instance, the home team actually won. Go Bears.

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