Bears in full 'urgency' mode

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Bears in full 'urgency' mode

Urgency. The Bears havent needed it for a lot of this season, didnt have it, and that was exposed by the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers.
 
It was decidedly there against the Minnesota Vikings and it is perhaps the single biggest key to the remainder of this season.
 
Defensive end Corey Wootton suggested that the 49ers game was perhaps a wakeup call, which is what people need when theyre asleep, and which the Bears were. That is how a supposedly good offense drops to 30th in yardage and with an offensive touchdown total (20) that ranked with the likes of Oakland, Philadelphia, St. Louis all losers.
 
That all changed on Sunday when the Bears (8-3) scored in a hurry, with urgency, on four straight first-half possessions -- three of the scores touchdowns -- on the way to a 28-10 handling of the Minnesota Vikings (6-5).
 
Urgency evident
 
The difference was an urgency that wide receiver Brandon Marshall said afterwards that he had never seen from Jay Cutler this season.
 
Cutler was candid: We wanted to see some rhythm and a little sense of urgency, he said, clearly stating between the line that it hadnt been there.
 
Maybe a little terror makes you run faster or throw better or tackle more convincingly. Terror of having a repeat of what Cutler saw his mates go through in San Francisco. Terror of what Adrian Peterson could do to them on defense.
 
Terror of falling that last drop from a comfortable lead in the NFC North and No. 2 seed in the conference into the mess of worrying about wild cards as the season wears on.
 
It was a game we had to have, said coach Lovie Smith, who typically downplays the importance of any single game. A division home game You have to stand up for it.
 
Where the Bears are
 
The games do become more urgent in November and December. The Bears were 0-2 in the third quarter of the season before taking the measure of the Vikings and in danger of falling behind both the Vikings and Green Bay Packers in the NFC North.
 
Now they have a two-game edge on Minnesota and one game on the Packers, who were crushed by the New York Giants Sunday night to end a five-game winning streak.
 
They are two games behind the Atlanta Falcons (10-1) and a half-game back of the 49ers (8-2-1) in playoff seedings. The 49ers would have a head-to-head advantage but because of San Franciscos tie with St. Louis, chances of the Bears being involved in a tiebreaker with the 49ers are remote.
 
The Bears need another 49ers loss, which is most likely to happen only at New England in three weeks or at Seattle in four on an otherwise weak closing stretch.
 
Seattle setbacks
 
The Seattle Seahawks come to Soldier Field next Sunday with a 1-5 road record this season. But the Seahawks may have taken two huge hits on defense with the pending four-game suspensions of cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner for violating the NFLs substance-abuse policy. The suspensions, under appeal, were first reported by ESPNs Adam Schefter.
 
The pair pose a particular problem for receivers because they are a unique tandem of big, physical defensive backs. Sherman is 6-3, 195, and Browner is 6-4, 221.
 
A complete game
 
Whatever the emotional reason on Sunday, the Bears throttled the team that had smacked down the 49ers. The Vikings had scored no fewer than 20 points in any game this year; the Bears held them to 10 and 258 yards, more than 80 below their season average.
 
It started with Cutler completing 15-of-17 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown pass to Matt Spaeth, the first score of the year for the tight end.
 
The defense allowed only 92 yards in the first half, 25 of those to NFL rushing leader Adrian Peterson.
 
Its a home division game, linebacker Brian Urlacher said. We expect to win all those. A tough Minnesota team coming in here, playing well but we took care of business.
 
With some urgency.

Marian Hossa named Blackhawks' nominee for 2017 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

Marian Hossa named Blackhawks' nominee for 2017 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

The Chicago chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association has selected Marian Hossa to be the Blackhawks' nominee for the 2017 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which recognizes perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

The 38-year-old winger has bounced back in a huge way following a 2015-16 campaign where he had only 13 goals and 20 assists in 64 games. 

Hossa is tied for second on the team with 24 goals and ranks sixth on the club with 42 points in 66 contests this season. He ranks fourth among active players with 1,131 points, and recently surpassed Pat Verbeek to move into 35th all-time in goals scored with 523.

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Three finalists from the 30 NHL teams will be named at the end of the regular season.

Pit Martin (1969-70) and Bryan Berard (2003-04) are the only two players in Blackhawks history to win the honor.

Former Bulls center Joakim Noah suspended 20 games for violating NBA's anti-drug policy

Former Bulls center Joakim Noah suspended 20 games for violating NBA's anti-drug policy

The NBA announced Saturday that it has suspended former Bulls and current Knicks center Joakim Noah for 20 games without pay for violating the league's anti-drug policy.

He tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement called selective androgen receptor modulator LGD-4033, which is prohibited under the current collective bargaining agreement but would not have been under the new CBA starting next year, according to ESPN's Marc Spears.

It was announced in February that Noah would miss the remainder of the season with a left knee injury. His suspension will carry over into the 2017-18 campaign with only 10 games left this year.

Noah averaged 5.0 points per game and 8.8 rebounds per game in 46 games in his first of a four-year, $72 million contract with the Knicks.