Just like they have all year, the Bears defense came through on Sunday when the team needed it most, leading Chicago to a 28-13 romp out in the desert of Arizona. The defense returned two turnovers for touchdowns, and the offense did enough to give themselves a cushion and Chicago cruised over the hapless Cardinals. The defense held Arizona to just 247 total yards, forcing three turnovers and returning a fumble and an interception back for touchdowns. Though the offense was not great, Jay Cutler found Brandon Marshall for a touchdown and Matt Forte added a touchdown as well, and the Bears were able to cruise to victory.
The Bears defense struck early and often in this one. In the first quarter, they were able to recover a Beanie Wells fumble and Zack Bowman recovered at the 1 yard line before sliding across the goal line for the touchdown. Wells appeared to slip and dropped the ball, an unfortunate error that lead to the Bears’ first touchdown of the game. After Jay Feely hit a 35 yard field goal to cut it to 7-3, two big plays by Forte and Marshall set up the Bears offense at the 4 yard line, before Forte punched it in to make it 14-3. The Bears forced a Cardinals punt later, but the ball deflected off of D.J. Moore and was recovered by Arizona, who ended up kicking another field goal on the drive. With just a couple of minutes left in the first half, Jay Cutler went 5-5 in leading the Bears to another touchdown, this time to Brandon Marshall, which made it 21-6 going into the break. The third quarter was much of the same for the Bears, and started off with Charles Tillman intercepting a pass and running it back 10 yards for a touchdown to make it 28-6. The Bears rolled from there, only giving up one more touchdown on a blocked 20 yard field goal that was returned for a touchdown by Justin Bethel, giving the final margin of 28-13. The outcome never appeared in doubt, however, as the Bears took one step closer to the playoffs.
Chicago, however, still does not control their own destiny. Thanks to the Vikings’ unexpected victory in Houston, Minnesota still can get into the playoffs if they beat Green Bay next week. The Bears will have to win their game against the Lions in Detroit and hope that the Packers, their arch rivals, can beat Minnesota. If that does not happen, then the Bears could win and not have it matter, as the Vikings are ahead by virtue of the tie-breaking system for the NFL playoffs. This game was a step in the right direction, however, and gives the Bears enough hope that they can make the playoffs as week 17 approaches.