Bears need to break Packers 'hex' over Jay Cutler

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Bears need to break Packers 'hex' over Jay Cutler

The Bears have beaten some good teams this year. The only thing that matters now, however, is if they can beat one more.

They defeated the Indianapolis Colts on opening day. The win might be minimized because it was Andrew Lucks first NFL game, but Luck put away the Minnesota Vikings the following week and the Green Bay Packers two games later.

They went into Dallas and beat the Cowboys who were 2-1 at the time and are now at 7-6 and in the playoff discussion.

But the Packers are another matter altogether and the overarching question right now is whether the Packers are too deep inside the head of quarterback Jay Cutler to be overcome.

Green Bay has beaten the Bears five straight times, all but game 16 last season with Cutler. The only time he has been able to defeat Green Bay was when the Packers helped with 18 penalties and 152 yards of walk-offs in game three of the 2010 season.

The five-game winless streak is the longest by Green Bay since Brett Favre won the last seven over the Dick Jauron Bears and the last 10 of the Dave Wannstedt era. Lovie Smith has yet to figure out Aaron Rodgers the way he had Favre.

If Smith has had any difficulty getting his team properly focused the past several weeks, that had better not be an issue this time.

If you need a game coming up to really get you motivated to play your best football, Smith said, it should be your rival, with Green Bay coming in.

The problem is that Smiths quarterback has been a model of some consistency against the Packers and its been the wrong kind of consistent.

Cutler has thrown 15 interceptions vs. eight touchdown passes in his seven Chicago-Green Bay games. Where he had a 98.8 career passer rating vs. Minnesota before last Sunday, with a 16-7 TD-INT ratio, Cutler has a 60.5 career rating vs. Green Bay. He threw four interceptions in the game-two loss at Green Bay (28.2 rating), put up ratings of 31.8, 42.5 and 82.5 in the 2010 meetings and 78.9 in his one game against the Packers last season.

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Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

The Blackhawks’ starts have been all over the map this season but their finishes have usually been strong. That was the case again on Sunday night as the Blackhawks took a lead, lost a lead and regained a lead for good in their 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

This one featured a little bit of everything. So let’s just get to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over Vancouver.

1. Jonathan Toews breaks through. If the Blackhawks captain’s confidence was a little shaken with his lack of scoring this season, it should’ve gotten a boost with his Sunday outing. Toews’ goal and three assists were as big for him as they were the Blackhawks, who needed every bit of it late against the Canucks. In his last 12 games Toews has three goals and eight assists. He’s getting there. Said coach Joel Quenneville, “it seems like he was around the puck way more and when he does that, usually good things happen.”

2. Great start. This hasn’t been written very often but it was more than evident on Sunday night. If this wasn’t the Blackhawks’ best opening period of the season it was pretty close, as they broke out to a 2-0 lead against the Canucks. The Blackhawks, outside of a 3 ½-minute sequence without a shot on goal, were tenacious and ready to shoot, taking an 18-9 shots-on-goal edge in that first.

3. Corey Crawford rebounds. Quenneville considered Scott Darling for this game, an understandable thought with Darling coming off a 30-stop shutout. But he wanted Crawford to get back to where he was prior to his appendectomy, and Crawford took a step in that direction on Sunday night. In stopping 26 of 28 shots Crawford got his 18th victory of the season and 200th of his career. Quenneville said Crawford “looked like he was in control.”

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4. Michal Kempny’s tough stretch. When Kempny has been good this season he’s been very good. When he’s been bad... The defenseman was in the penalty box when the Canucks scored their first goal and he was beaten by Bo Horvat on the Canucks’ second goal. Kempny didn’t play the final 14 minutes of the game. Quenneville, who liked what Kempny brought on the team’s road trip, said Kempny just has to work through some things. “Coverage with awareness and knowing sometimes it’s man coverage, sometimes it’s playing the puck and clearing the loose stuff,” Quenneville said. “Defenseman is a tough position as you’re growing and learning it, but the more you play the better you play and I still think he’s making progress.”

5. Brian Campbell gets to keep No. 500 this time. Campbell thought he had his 500th point against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night but it was taken away. Well he got it back on Sunday night, setting up Richard Panik’s 11th goal of the season in the first period.