No 'deserves' in Bears reaching 6-1 with fifth straight win

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No 'deserves' in Bears reaching 6-1 with fifth straight win

Cornerback Tim Jennings preferred to look at the result rather than steps in the process.
 
This was an ugly one, said Jennings, whose 25-yard interception return for a touchdown gave the Bears a lead in the fourth quarter. Offense didnt play well. Defense didnt play well. Special teams didnt get any big plays.
 
But we just had to keep fighting.
 
In the last half of the last quarter, the offense, defense and special teams all produced both big plays and points.
 
So whether the Bears won a 23-22 victory over the Carolina Panthers on a last-second field goal of 41 yards by Robbie Gould or the Panthers blew a 12-point fourth-quarter lead really isnt important at all.
 
Beauty, or lack of, is in the minds of the critics, not in the NFL standings, which have the 6-1 Bears with the second-best record in the NFL and still two games ahead of the 5-3 Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings in the NFC North.
 
There is no such thing as an ugly win, coach Lovie Smith said. To me the team that deserves the win always ends up on top at the end.
 
Indeed, deserves has no relevance in sports, certainly not after the Bears trailed the ill-starred 1-6 Panthers by a count of 19-7 as late as the 7-minute mark of the fourth quarter. The Bears scored 13 points in the span of 8 seconds to deserve a fifth straight win for the third season in a row.
 
All phases in 7 minutes
 

Smith consistently alludes to the importance of all phases of the team offense, defense, special teams plus fan support as the fourth. All four figured prominently in one of the epic turnarounds in recent Bears history:
 
Offense
 
The victory needed quarterback Jay Cutler completing 12 of 14 passes in the fourth quarter and accomplishing his first come-from-behind win since rallying the Bears against the Philadelphia Eagles last Nov. 7.
 
The offense turned a shanked six-yard Carolina punt into a 12-yard touchdown pass from Cutler to tight end Kellen Davis with 6 minutes, 52 seconds to play.
 
After the Panthers had gone back ahead on a Justin Medlock field goal of 45 yards, Cutler picked apart a suddenly overmatched Carolina defense by completing six of seven passes to set up Goulds winning kick.
 
They were playing one coverage, said Cutler, who finished with 19-of-28 passing for 186 yards, a touchdown, an interception and passer rating of 83.3. He was sacked six times in the first half, then never again.
 
We just kept hitting them and hitting them and hitting them.
 
Defense
 
It needed Jennings eight seconds and one snap later intercepting a pass intended for wide receiver Steve Smith, who had slipped on the play. Jennings returned the ball 25 yards for an NFL-record sixth defensive touchdown on the year.
 
The play was particularly savored because it came at the expense of Smith, who hurt the Bears with seven catches and 118 receiving yards and dismissed Bears defensive backs as not his equal in the aftermath.
 
They didnt especially care.
 
Great play, said cornerback Charles Tillman. You never know whats going to happen so thats why you have to keep playing. Coach Smith is always talking about it. I think we learned a lot about our team tonight.
 
Special teams
 
It needed special teams and Gould shaking off an earlier miss from 32 yards and driving home his 13th field goal of the season as time expired.
 
Carolina collapse
 
The defeat carried a special sting. Coach Ron Rivera fell to 0-2 against former boss Lovie Smith, but more excruciatingly, five of the Panthers six losses have been by six or fewer points. The last four have been by a total of 12 points and were leaving Rivera without answers, or solutions.
 
Yeah, I am, truly, Rivera said. Im running out of ways to describe this.
 
This was anything but a meltdown by quarterback Cam Newton or anyone else. Newton completed 20 of 39 passes for 314 yards but saved his worst throw to a slipping Smith - until it mattered most.
 
I kind of felt him slipping, Newton said. I just wanted to give Steve and chance. You cant do that. You need to protect the ball better than that.
 
If you dont, you dont deserve to win. Or something like that.

Report: It's a four-year deal between Joakim Noah and the Knicks

Report: It's a four-year deal between Joakim Noah and the Knicks

It was made known before the clock struck midnight on NBA free agency that Joakim Noah was likely heading to New York, and Friday night, Noah reportedly agreed to a four-year deal with the Knicks.

ESPN reported Noah and the Knicks agreed to a four-year pact worth $72 million, quite the long-term commitment from Phil Jackson to a player who missed all but 29 games last season and has appeared in more than 67 games just once in the last seven seasons.

Noah heads to the Knicks to re-team with Derrick Rose, who the Bulls traded last week in exchange for Robin Lopez, Jose Calderon and Jerian Grant.

Noah had a pair of recent All-Star seasons with the Bulls in 2012-13 and 2013-14, earning NBA Defensive Player of the Year honors and getting named to the All-NBA First Team in 2013-14, when he averaged a career-best 12.6 points per game and 11.3 rebounds per game.

But injuries kept him off the court often during the past two seasons, with him missing 15 regular-season games in 2014-15 and only appearing in 29 contests (with just two starts) in Fred Hoiberg's first season in Chicago.

In nine seasons with the Bulls, Noah averaged 9.3 points per game and 9.4 rebounds per game.

Noah and Rose both depart the Bulls for the Knicks, where they figure to start alongside Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis.

Today on CSN: Sale, White Sox look to even series vs. Astros

Today on CSN: Sale, White Sox look to even series vs. Astros

Chris Sale and the White Sox square off against the Houston Astros today, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 2:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Chris Sale  (13-2, 2.79) vs. Doug Fister (8-4, 3.36)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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White Sox can't get timely hits, fall to Astros

White Sox can't get timely hits, fall to Astros

HOUSTON — Carlos Gomez hit a two-run homer and Mike Fiers and three relievers combined for a shutout to help the surging Houston Astros to a 5-0 victory over the White Sox on Friday night.

It was Houston's fourth straight victory and 11th in the last 12 games.

Fiers (6-3) scattered four hits over six innings. Ken Giles and Luke Gregerson didn't allow a hit in an inning each, and Chris Devenski threw a scoreless ninth.

The Astros didn't have a baserunner until Miguel Gonzalez (1-4) plunked George Springer to start the fourth inning. He then walked Luis Valbuena before Jose Altuve grounded into a double play that left Springer at third.

Houston's first hit came next when Carlos Correa's strange infield popup dropped in front of shortstop Tim Anderson and allowed Springer to score and make it 1-0.

Gomez padded the lead when he sent one into the seats in left field with one out in the seventh to make it 3-0. Correa reached on an error by third baseman Tyler Saladino before Gomez's shot.

Gomez has started heating up after a tough start to the season that included a May when he hit just .136. He has hit four homers, five doubles and driven in 15 runs since June 5 to boost his average from .182 to .225.

Gonzalez yielded three hits and two runs in a season-high seven innings.

Houston first baseman A.J. Reed got his first major league hit with a single with two outs in the fifth inning. He was 0-for-16 since being called up on Saturday before the hit.

Valbuena added an RBI double in the eighth, and Colby Rasmus had a run-scoring single in that inning to make it 5-0.