Loud and Clear Statement
By Benjy Lipsman in News on Nov 21, 2005 5:53PM
The Bears came into this weekend with a surprising 6-3 record, which placed them atop the NFC North. But the division and the Bears schedule in general was pretty weak through the first 9 games of the seaon. The Bears wins came against the likes of the New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers and the Detroit Lions. Lots of questions remained about how the team would fare when opposing one of the league's top teams.
Sunday's game thus because a big statement game. The 7-2 Carolina Panthers were coming into Soldier Field with a 6-game winning streak, a very good defense and an offense that had never failed to score at least 20 points all season. the Bears, while possessing the best defense in the league had scored over 20 only twice.
All questions about the quality of this Bears team was answered yesterday in their 13-3 victory. The Bears defense dominated the game in just about every aspect. They sacked Jake Delhomme 8 times -- he'd only been sacked 12 times all season before yesterday. The Panthers offense never got going and the Bears held them to just 3 points, coming on a field goal late in the game. Nathan Vasher -- the star of last week's game because of his 108 yard return -- intercepted Delhomme twice. Those picks gave the Bears excellent field position and lead to 10 of the Bears 13 points.
For all those ciritic who questioned the Bears -- whether they were as good as a 6-3 record suggested and whether their defense was really that good -- the Bears give them a definative answer. Yes, this is a good team. And they are a good team because of a great defense.
Nobody's going to say this team has a good offense. But in spite of a rookie 4th round draft pick at QB, a solid running game gives them an offense that's good enough. For now. It'll carry the Bears to a NFC North title, and maybe even a playoff win in the opening week. Currently, only Seattle (8-2) has a better record in the NFC. But Chicagoist isn't anywhere close to calling this a Super Bowl team -- yet. There are still a number of games against likely playoff teams left on the schedule.
However, their defense ranks does right up there with the legendary 46 Defense of the 1985 Super Bowl team. While that team had more interceptions and a few more sacks at this point, the 2005 team has actually held opponents to fewer yards/game and fewer points/game. And it's points that determine who wins a game, not turnovers or sacks. The national media is taking note. ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike raved about the Bears D on their show this morning. And ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli announced to football fans that the Bears are an "emerging beast." Only appropriate for our Monsters of the Midway.