The Chicago Bears looked more like the Monsters of the Midway on Sunday, and less like the Maginot Line, beating the Minnesota Vikings, 28-10, at Soldier Field to improve to 8-3 and were promptly rewarded with a return to first place and all the leftover cranberries.
Lovie Smith’s little fellas needed this one badly having come in with two straight losses including last Monday night’s 32-7 eradication in San Francisco in which the Bears looked less interested than the ghost of Paul Lynde at the Tilted Kilt.
Chicago won by returning to its core principles of forcing turnovers, running the ball and playing a team that probably isn’t very good. The Vikings entered Sunday’s challenge with a record of 6-4 but every American over the age of 21 knows that the only people who ever succeed while wearing purple are Prince and Elton John. True, Prince is from Minnesota but do any of you honestly profess that a man who celebrates the wearing of raspberry berets drinks from the same fountain of fortune as you?
The Vikings aren’t very good.
The Bears are good when they have Jay Cutler and the salty QB was back in the office Sunday after sitting out the San Francisco slambake with a concussion. Cutler’s absence left more Twizzlers for everyone else on the bus but it also exposed just how bad the Bears offensive line really is as his backup, Jason Campbell, was sacked 73 times last week and then moved to Canada and changed his name to Mrs. Bloodyfeather. No, Campbell didn’t really quit but one of his beleaguered protectors, guard Chilo Rachal, did after being demoted. Rachal officially said he left the team for “personal reasons,” those reasons being he didn’t like his coaches telling him that he floats like a butterfly and blocks like a matador.
Chris Spencer, who had the job at the beginning of the season, replaced Rachal on the offensive line and the Bears also sent tackle Gabe Carimi to the bench and brought in Jonathan Scott. The shuffles appeared to work as the line gave Cutler just enough time on Sunday to stave off, at least for another week, being asked to audition for a background role in a remake of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”
Cutler completed 23 of 31 passes for 188 yards for one touchdown and one interception. True, those are numbers that Drew Brees can put up with one eye closed and one hand on his birthmark, but they’re perfectly acceptable for anyone with a fancy orange “C” on the side of his head, especially on the heels of a game in which the offense was about as productive as NHL labor negotiations.
The Bears had a lot of fun in this one. Cutler was penalized for taunting. And (tee-hee!) he deserved it.
The Bears blocked a field goal. So did the Vikings, of course, but the Bears did it first which just proves that not only are the Vikings mediocre but also garishly unoriginal.
The Bears also, just to be funky and all about what you don’t think they’re all about, faked an extra point in the second quarter and had punter Adam Podlesh run it in for a two-point conversion on a direct snap. Perhaps the Bears did this as an apology to Adam for recently inviting some free agent punters to practice and allowing them to ask Adam where he parks his car. Most punters don’t have friends.
This victory may be a costly one for the Bears because while Cutler left the game walking, breathing and talking just like Rory Calhoun, several of his teammates did not. Spencer and the Bears other starting guard, Lance Louis, both left the game with injuries and receiver/returner Devin Hester, running back Matt Forte, cornerback Charles Tillman and linebacker Lance Briggs all got hurt as well. Oh yeah, and Ditka had a stroke two weeks ago.
So, the black, orange and blue Bears who, not so long ago, looked like a conquering army steamrolling dandelions and Gabberts, now instead proceed into winter resembling a bedraggled gang of malnourished tollbooth attendants dragging a groggy Billy Gardell into the shower.
This is November football.
For Chicagoans, the only thing better than watching the Bears win is buying tripe half-price. The next best thing after that is watching the Green Bay Packers lose and the whole football nation witnessed that Sunday night as the Packers were brutalized by the New York Giants, 38-10, in New Jersey. That means Aaron Rodgers and his mustache are now 7-4 and the Bears are one game ahead with the Seattle Seabiscuits coming to town. Are the Bears back on the right track, or are they still just a missed block away from a memorial service and a winless December?
8-3. The Bears are guaranteed of being officially no worse than so-so. So-so ain’t so bad after two weeks of oh, no. So-so knows the way to OK. So-so feeds the bulldog.