Bears Win Again
By Benjy Lipsman in News on Nov 7, 2005 5:55PM
The Bears traveled down to Baton Rouge this weekend to play the nomadic New Orleans Saints, and returned to Chicago with a 20-17 victory, improving their record to 5-3. In front of a stadium 2/3 empty, the Bears won in spite of a subpar first half and the loss of Thomas Jones in the second half. the win gives the Bears their first 4-game winning streak since 2001.
"Good football teams find a way to win when you don't play your best ball. That's what happened," coach Lovie Smith said. That, they did. In spite of the Bears defense giving up over 100 yards rushing in the first half the Bears headed into the locker room tied 10-10. The Bears defense returned to form, holding the Saints to only 29 yards rushing after halftime.
With Thomas Jones leaving the game with a rib injury, Cedric Benson and Adrian Peterson stepped up big. Benson ran for 79 yards on 14 carries (5.6 yd avg.) while Peterson added 58 yards on just 6 carries (9.7 yd avg.). With output like that from the two backups, do the Bears sit Jones to rest the knee and ribs against the 49ers this coming Sunday? Chicagoist thinks it might be a good idea.
While the running game moved the ball, it was rookie kicker Robbie Gould whose leg sealed the game with a 28 yard field goal with just 6 seconds left in the game.
With the regular season now half over, the Bears are in first place in the NFC North. The current standings:
Before the season, Chicagoist predicted that the Bears might surpise the experts. We said they might rise to the top of a weak division. That's where they stand right now, in part because they're 3-0 against the NFC North so far. As we predicted, the Vikes aren't so tough and the Packers are bringing up the rear. But even we didn't think they'd be this bad! The Lions are having more trouble than we'd expected, but they've turned to Jeff Garcia as we hinted they might. So all in all, Chicagoist is pretty dead on so far. Better than those who get paid to make these predictions.
We now see the Bears coming in at our best case scenario or even a game better -- we'll go with 10-6. The Packers might win a couple more the second half of the season, but they're still looking like contenders for the Matt Leinart sweepstakes. The Lions and Vikings will both finish around 7-9.
So now the question isn't "can the Bears make the playoffs?" the question is, "Can they do anything once they're in the playoffs?" We're still not so certain about that. We've still got 8 games to assess the situation, though.