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Bears Remind Us A Win Is A Win, No Matter How Ugly

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Oct 29, 2012 3:00PM

In just about every way possible, the Bears were outplayed by the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. But somehow, the Bears still managed to eke out a 23-22 win to improve to 6-1.

The Bears scored first, taking advantage of excellent field position to move 49 yards in four plays as Matt Forte ran 13 yards for a touchdown. The Panthers responded with a field goal on their next possession and added a touchdown early in the second quarter set up by a Jay Cutler fumble. Carolina added another three points following a 17-play drive to take a 13-7 lead at halftime.

In the second half, the Panthers added two more field goals to eventually extend their lead to 19-7 midway through the fourth quarter. Following a six-yard punt, the Bears again capitalized on a short field when Cutler found Kellen Davis in the back of the end zone, cutting the lead to five. On the very next play from scrimmage, Carolina's All Pro wideout Steve Smith slipped in the grass and Tim Jennings ended up with a pick-six, intercepting the pass and running 25 yards for a touchdown. A failed two-point conversion gave the Bears a 20-19 lead with less than seven minutes to play. Carolina marched back down the field to the Bears' 27 yard line and Justin Medlock booted his fifth field goal of the afternoon, giving the panthers a lead once again with less than three minutes to play.

The Bears finally found an offensive rhythm in the games final minutes and as time expired, Robbie Gould kicked a 41-yarder for the win, 23-22.

That the Bears found a way to win showed their resiliency. Carolina's offense out-gained the Bears 416 yards to 210. Jay Cutler was awful for much of the afternoon, likely feeling the affects of that Ndamukong Suh hit on Monday night. He had just a 37.8 QB rating heading into the fourth quarter, was sacked six times and fumbled away the ball twice in addition to throwing an INT. But the Bears' defense kept holding the Panthers to field goals—five on the day—and Tim Jennings picked off a pair of Cam Newton passes, including the one he returned for a TD. Cutler finally found a his groove and helped lead the Bears to victory, finishing the day with a 83.3 QB rating after completing 12 of 14 passes for 106 yards and a TD in the fourth quarter. Matt Forte, who provided the lion's share of the offense early on carried 15 times for 70 yards. Brandon Marshall caught 9 passed for 98 yards—half of those coming in the fourth quarter.

Entering the locker room after the game, Julius Peppers exclaimed, "Winning ugly!" That's how most fans saw it, too. But coach Lovie Smith saw it another way. "There's no such thing as an ugly win," Smith said. "The team that deserves it ends up on top." Whether or not the Bears deserved that win, the team is now 6-1, and remains atop the NFC North. Only the Atlanta Falcons hold a better record in all the NFL. Even the good teams have close calls. And great teams find a way to win those close ones. Are the Bears who we thought they are in 2012? Or are they even better?