Bears quarterback Jay Cutler threw four touchdown passes on his first nine completions, having his best game yet in Chicago. Eagles quarterback Michael Vick had a decent game, but he didn't play at the MVP level he had been at for most of this season. And the Eagles defense clearly missed injured cornerback Asante Samuel, who leads Philadelphia in interceptions.
A few thoughts on the game:
• The Bears' defensive line was ready for Michael Vick from the beginning, sacking him on the third play from scrimmage and forcing a three-and-out.
• Vick is having the best passing season of his NFL career, but he still sometimes looks like he doesn't know the strength of his own rocket arm. He overthrew a wide-open Brent Celek in the first quarter, missing what probably would have been a touchdown pass, and the Eagles had to settle for a David Akers field goal to give them a 3-0 lead.• On the drive after that, the Bears put all the pieces together in their offense, with Matt Forte breaking a long run and Jay Cutler hitting Earl Bennett for a 10-yard touchdown. That's the kind of balanced, big-play attack that Mike Martz offenses, at their best, look like.
• After that the Bears made the Eagles punt again, and the Martz offense again worked like a charm, this time with Cutler hitting Johnny Knox for a 20-yard touchdown.
• Chicago's offensive line has struggled all season, but the biggest liability is tackle J'Marcus Webb, who is going to get Cutler badly hurt one of these days if he doesn't get better, or get benched. He just can't be trusted to win a one-on-one battle with any halfway decent NFL defensive end. The Martz offense -- or any offense -- is going to struggle with that kind of effort from the offensive line.
• The Bears' defensive line started the game by making pressuring Vick a priority, and Vick showed in the second quarter why that's so important: On a play when Vick had time to set up and read through his progressions, he hit Jeremy Maclin for a 10-yard touchdown.
• The next time the Eagles got into the red zone, the Bears' pass rush was much better: Julius Peppers sacked Michael Vick on third down, forcing the Eagles to settle for a field goal. And the Eagles' next time in the red zone after that, the Bears' defensive line got to him again: Tommie Harris deflected Vick's pass and forced the ball to wobble into the hands of Bears defensive back Chris Harris for an interception in the end zone. Believe it or not, it was Vick's first interception of the season -- and first interception since December of 2006.
• Chicago turned that interception into a long touchdown drive, ending with a Cutler-to-Bennett pass with 38 seconds to go in the first half. And then the Bears went right back to work at the start of the second half, with Cutler throwing his fourth touchdown pass of the game, this time to Greg Olsen, and giving the Bears a 28-13 lead. By the end of the third quarter, that lead had become 31-13.
• Early in the fourth quarter Akers hit a 22-yard field goal to make the score 31-16, but it was another example of the Eagles' struggles in the red zone. When you get inside the 5-yard line, you need to score touchdowns, not field goals. With less than five minutes remaining in the game, the Eagles again faltered in the red zone and ended up settling for a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the 18-yard line to make the score 31-19. You don't often see a team down 15 points settle for a field goal with goal-to-go and less than five minutes to go in the game, but then again you don't often see a team as bad in the red zone as the Eagles.
• The Eagles did get the ball back after that, and Vick rifled a great pass to Celek for a 30-yard touchdown on fourth down. Celek blew right past Brian Urlacher on his pass route, then managed to catch the ball even though there were four Bears in the vicinity. That cut the deficit to 31-26, but the Bears recovered the subsequent onside kick and held on to win.
• One final note: For as well as Cutler played, he still loses his head too often. In the fourth quarter Cutler cost the Bears 15 yards when he got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for yelling at the game officials, and even after he got the penalty he was still chirping on the sideline. Cutler played like a winner Sunday. He needs to act like one.
• Vick threaded a 30-yard touchdown pass to Celek to bring the Eagles within five in the final two minutes, but Chicago would close the book by recovering the ensuing onside kick.
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