In less than a calendar week, the Bears lost control of the NFC North and took it back again. They lost at San Francisco on Monday after the Green Bay Packers had won a fifth straight game, then stepped out ahead of the division by dispatching the Minnesota Vikings and watched the Packers take a beating at the hands of the New York Giants.
The situation with five games remaining is that the Bears have their quarterback intact but an offensive line that is anything but, pending information on the severity of knee injuries to guards Lance Louis and Chris Spencer. For their part the Packers are in trouble in front of Aaron Rodgers as well, and the Bears now have a final run of five opponents who all have lost their last games.
Indianapolis Colts (7-4) W 41-21
Balanced identity established with 33-35 run pass ratio and O runs up 428 yards with Jay Cutler throwing for 333 yards and 2 TDs to go with rushing TDs by Michael Bush (2) and Matt Forte (1) as part of 122 rushing yards. Nice to have caught this team while Andrew Luck was still a puppy.
@ Green Bay Packers (7-4) L 23-10
Jay Cutler berates offensive linemen on national TV for seven sacks; linemen just have to accept Cutlers four INTs apparently. Embarrassing offensive performance all around as defense holds Aaron Rodgers and Pack to 3 FGs and one TD.
St. Louis Rams (4-6-1) W 23-6
Defense sacks Sam Bradford six times and holds Rams out of the end zone. Offense scores only one TD for the second week in a row and Jay Cutler continues to find a groove with receivers.
@ Dallas Cowboys (5-6) W 34-18
Five interceptions of Tony Romo, two returned for TDs (Briggs, Tillman) and a workmanlike 360 yards on offense produce a crucial road win on MNF against the most overrated (annually) team in the NFL.
@ Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9) W 41-3
Bears offense runs up 501 balanced yards (214 rush, 287 pass) and explodes after a sluggish first half. Briggs and Tillman make NFL history with TD interceptions for second straight week and Brandon Marshall puts up 144 yards on 12 catches.
Sun., Oct. 14 Off week
vs. Detroit Lions (4-7) W 13-7
Jay Cutler sacked five times and survives Ndamukong Suhs WWF takedown. Bears RBs net 132 yards as run game clicks. Offense cant put Lions away but Charles Tillman D on Calvin Johnson virtually locks Bears DB into a 2nd Pro Bowl.
vs. Carolina Panthers (2-8, MNF vs. Philadelphia) W 23-22
Robbie Gould 41-yard FG as time expires caps 16-point fourth quarter and rally from 19-7 deficit. Offense and defense struggle badly for three quarters but Kellen Davis catches TD pass and Tim Jennings TD return to turn back Cam Newton and reeling Ron Rivera team.
@ Tennessee Titans (4-7) W 51-20
Charles Tillmans bid for defensive player of the year got a boost from four forced fumbles, Brian Urlacher returned an INT for a touchdown and Corey Wootton scored on a blocked punt. Jay Cutler throws three TDs to Brandon Marshall in a game Bears led 28-2 after one quarter.
Houston Texans (10-1) L 13-6
Jay Cutler goes out with concussion and offense improves with Jason Campbell. But too many wasted chances with good field positions with 2 INTs and 2 lost fumbles. Arian Foster rushes for 102 but Bears adjust to control Texans offense in second half.
@ San Francisco 49ers (7-2-1) L 32-7
Jason Campbell cannot survive an abysmal performance by the offensive line, allowing 5.5 sacks to Aldon Smith, while the defense makes an instant star out of Colin Kaepernick in his first NFL start.
Vikings (6-5) W 28-10
Jay Cutler returns from his concussion, completes 15 of 17 in the first half as the Bears get up 25-3 and cruise. Adrian Peterson loses to fumbles, Chris Conte intercepts Christian Ponder, and the offense turns the takeaways into 14 points.
Seattle Seahawks (6-5) Sun., Dec. 2, noon
Hawks go into Miami and lose when Ryan Tannehill outplays Russell Wilson in a matchup between rookie QBs. Now Seattle, 1-5 on the road already, could see its starting cornerbacks suspended. Next: @ BEARS
@ Minnesota Vikings (6-5) Sun., Dec. 9, noon
Green Bay Packers (7-4) Sun., Dec. 16, noon
Giants start a repeat of last years rally by putting 31 first-half points on Packers D missing Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson, and run amok for five sacks of Aaron Rodgers behind a crumbling O-line. Next: Minnesota
@ Arizona Cardinals (4-7) Sun., Dec. 23, 3:15 p.m.
Rookie QB Ryan Lindley throws 4 INTs in his first start, two returned for TDs, as Cards are outscored 17-0 in the second half to lose their seventh straight. Next: @ N.Y. Jets
@ Detroit Lions (4-7) Sun., Dec. 30, noon
Jim Schwartz fouls up challenge flag toss, Jason Hanson hits the upright on potential winning FG, Ndamukong Suh kicks Houston QB Matt Schaub and could be disciplined, all in an OT loss to 10-1 AFC leaders Houston Texans. Next: Indianapolis