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Bears Take Commanding Lead in NFC North

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Sep 25, 2006 1:30PM

This game was a good bit closer than their previous two, and Chicagoist even feared for a while that they might actually lose, but the Bears won again on Sunday! In beating the Minnesota Vikings 19-16 in the Metrodome, the Bears won up there for the first time since 2001 and have started a season 3-0 for the first time since 1991.

2006_09_sports_bears_week3.jpgMore importantly, this win gives the Bears a 3-0 record against the NFC North, and puts them in the driver's seat on winning the division. They don't face any of their "Black & Blue Division" rivals again until they welcome the Vikings to Soldier Field on December 3.

For a while, it looked like the Vikings might win this game. Early in the 4th quarter, Rex Grossman threw an interception from deep in their own territory that was run back 7 yards for a TD -- the first of the game by either team. Could the Bears come back from the 13-9 deficit?

They traded field goals, with the Bears down 16-12 late in the 4th quarter, when the defense saved the day by forcing a fumble with about 3:30 left in the game. That funble ultimately lead to Rex Grossman's 24-yard TD pass to Rashied Davis inside the last two minutes of the game. Final score 19-16. Whew, that was a close one!

Grossman showed maturity and poise against the Vikings, overcoming a mediocre game to lead the winning drive. While his QB rating was half what he put up the first two weeks (and it could have been worse, had the Vikes held on to a couple of easily intercepted balls), a win's a win. But the running game was again a shell of its former self. Thomas Jones mustered just 54 yards on 18 carries, and where was Cedric Benson? Did he even get into the game?

The defense again did what it does, keeping the Vikings out of the end zone (their only TD was scored by their defense). It was also the defense's timely forced fumble that allowed the Bears to score their game-winning TD.

Next Sunday, the Bears play in prime time. They welcome the reigning NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks to Soldier Field for yet another battle of undefeated teams. With their 42-30 win over the New York Giants on Sunday, the Seahawks also will enter next week's game 3-0. The winner will jump to the top of most experts' lists for this year's NFC Champ.