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Morning Box Score: Bears Beat Bills

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Nov 8, 2010 4:00PM

The Bears headed north of the border to close out the first half of their season, playing the Buffalo Bills in Toronto, Canada. Against the winless Bills, the Bears managed a 22-19 victory that improves their record to 5-3, but they very easily could have become Buffalo's first victim.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Bears got on the board first when Jay Cutler capped off a 14 play, eight-minute drive by finding Greg Olsen in the end zone on a 4-yard pass. Buffalo tied the score shortly before halftime with a touchdown of their own. On their first possession of the second half, Buffalo fumbled the ball and the Bears capitalized by driving 60 yards to score the go-ahead touchdown -- their first points in the third quarter all season. On the ensuing drive, the Bills answered but Israel Idonije blocked the extra point try to preserve the narrowest of leads for the Bears. Buffalo took a 19-14 lead in the fourth quarter after a Jay Cutler sack led to the turnover. Cornerback Tim Jennings saved the day for the Bears when he picked off a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass. Six plays later, Cutler found Earl Bennett in the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown catch. In an attempt to retake the lead, Buffalo marched down the field in a 13 play drive before ultimately turning the ball over on downs.

The offensive game plan called by Mike Martz was much more balanced than any other game with Cutler on the field, with 31 rushing plays and 30 passes. But the running game managed just 105 yards on 31 carries, and 39 of those yards were gained when Cutler scrambled. The running back tandem of Matt Forte and Chester Taylor combined for just 62 yards despite 24 carries against the NFL's worst run defense. Cutler had a better day through the air, completing 17 of 28 for 188 yards, two TDs and a 97.6 passer rating. And while the offensive line couldn't open holes for the running backs, they did protect Cutler -- who suffered just the one sack. And the offense actually converted seven of 12 third down attempts.

If this is the best the Bears could muster, coming off their bye week and against a winless team, they shouldn't be considered real contenders. And yet with the win, the Bears remain a half-game behind Green Bay in the NFC Central. This was yet another win that felt nearly as unsatisfying as their losses, but a win is a win. Perhaps a win next week, against the Vikings at Soldier Field, can finally bring some satisfaction, as any win over Brett Favre feels good. Kickoff is at noon Sunday.