Bernstein: Bears Better

By Dan Bernstein–

I’m sure a gambler can explain to me how the Bears’ 16-0 dismantling of the Dolphins somehow qualifies as an upset. Some lines had them as a 2.5-point underdog at kickoff, with Miami a clear, consensus favorite.

Nobody knew Brandon Marshall would pop a hamstring (and don’t you just feel so bad about that? What a sweet kid.), or that the center would be the aptly-named Richie Incognito. And, yes, it was a road game on short rest against a winning team.

Many of us daring to think that the #3 quarterback just might be bad at football were sternly put in our place by those touting Tyler Thigpen’s untapped magic. Jake Long’s dislocated shoulder and torn labrum? Mere nuisances.

But come on, people. Seriously.

Lovie Smith managed his superior team nicely, playing to its strengths and away from weaknesses. This is one of the NFL’s best defenses, and it deserves the trophy that is a rare, road shutout. The other team is scrambling to cobble together an offensive line? Get six sacks. The only reliable aspect of their offense is the run game? Roll up a safety and fill the box.

Special teams provided for a noteworthy punt return and three field goals. It is another phase in which the Bears remain among the best in the league.

Offensively, the Thorazine that Smith slipped into Mike Martz’s coffee during the bye week has yet to wear off. They converted 10 of 18 third downs and ran the ball 40 times for 135 net yards. Jay Cutler threw one boneheaded pick, but also made some accurate, drive-extending throws while using his underappreciated speed and athleticism to keep plays alive and positive, especially with Cameron Wake windburning the overmatched J’Marcus Webb.

(On that subject, it may be tempting for some to compare Cutler’s play in a conservative gameplan to that of lesser-talented Bears QB’s who preceded him. It’s a mistake to do so, if you watch what Cutler actually has to do so often each game. His fine arm and feet still matter.)

No apologies are necessary for winning this game over this team. This is not comparable to the sheepish victory over then-winless Buffalo, when the season was saved, arguably, by the fortuitous outcome of one play that staved off embarrassment.

This was a no-doubt waxing of a team just asking for it. Even if it was an “upset.”

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