The Chicago Bears (4-1) didn't play four quarters of good football Sunday afternoon in Jacksonville. Good thing two was enough for a win.
"Thank God they play two halves," coach Lovie Smith said after the game.
The Bears sputtered in the heat during first half - game time temperatures were in the high 80s - then woke up and played some football, turning a 3-3 snoozefest into a decisive 41-3 beat-down of the lowly Jaguars (1-4). And all it took was a wake-up from Smith - a half-time butt-chewing, then a risky 4th-and-1 call from midfield that the Bears converted and turned into a field goal - to get the game going.
Anytime your team wins by 38 points, there is a lot to like, and this one was no exception for Bears fans:
- There was 501 yards of offense, the most for the Bears since 1989.
- Matt Forte had 107 yards and showed no signs of ankle problems.
- Brandon Marshall caught 12 passes for 144 yards, both season highs, and had a touchdown pass for the second straight game.
- The offensive line gave up just one sack.
- Smith had enough faith in his team to make the ballsy 4th-and-1 call.
- Jay Cutler rallied from a first-half passer rating of 45.8 (he just flat looked bad) by hitting 13-of-19 second half passes for 181 yards and two TDs.
And then there was the defense, which contributed two pick-sixes - again - and held the Jags to 189 yards of total offense and a lone field goal. And yes, you heard the commentators correctly - the Bears now have 16 turnovers on the year, with five defensive touchdown in the past three games. Shazam.
But wait, it gets even better: The Packers lost - again - and now stand at 2-3 on the season, two full games behind the Bears. Bears win, Packers lose - now that's a perfect Sunday.
Yup, there was a lot to like, and fans hope there's more to come.
Not to look ahead, but the Bears now have a week off before facing a trio of one-win opponents with a combined 3-11 record: Detroit, Carolina and Tennessee. It's feasible that the Bears could go into the halfway point of the season - and into a matchup with the undefeated Houston Texans - at 7-1.
Sure, the Bears still have some question marks, with an inconsistent offense at the top of the list. But let's savor this one for a while, then get back to business.
Sources: Smith's risky call results in great reward as Bears roll, Chicago Tribune.
YCN featured sports contributor Steve Merritt is - for better or worse - a native Illinoisan and lifelong Chicago Bulls, Bears and Cubs fan.