By Nick Shepkowski-
(WSCR) It’s what you need to do against bad teams — beat them badly. Its not a game that anyone really learned a ton about the Bears in their thrashing of the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night; however, the Bears now sit 3-3 and are still very much alive in the race for an NFC Wild Card berth.
Jay Cutler: It started with his long bomb to Devin Hester on the opening drive but No. 6 played a very strong game and remains unbeaten when his QB rating is over 100. He missed a third down throw to Hester in the first half, and Jared Allen’s sack-fumble was because Jay held the ball too long, but another strong showing from Jay is a very positive sign after his rough outings against New Orleans and Green Bay.
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Devin Hester: He still does very little for me as a receiver but props for his early touchdown reception and making multiple plays by making catches in the open field. Once again, fantastic on his kickoff return; as poor as Hester played all-around last week, he was that good this week.
Julius Peppers: We’ve wondered how healthy Peppers would be and if he was starting to fade as a pass rusher. Well, he wasn’t great against the run but two sacks of Donovan McNabb and a pretty strong pass rush most the night. It doesn’t make up for not-so-strong of showings the last few weeks but a much-needed strong outing from No. 90. Peppers and the rest of the defensive line took a lot of pressure off the new safety tandem of Conte and Wright.
Lance Louis: Compared to recent weeks, the entire offensive line gets a pat on the back for a very well-played game. Lance Louis was the best lineman on the Bears offensive side tonight. It’s amazing how much better he was than Frank Omiyale was a week ago. A tip of the cap to Chris Spencer as well who was huge on Marion Barber’s touchdown run, specifically, as he took out two defenders, while helping clear an enormous hole.
Matt Spaeth: No catches and that’s fine, he was head-up on Jared Allen during the play-action touchdown pass to Hester on the game’s first possession. He kept the NFL’s sack leader in front of him and allowed the long touchdown pass to happen.
Nick Roach: He’s escaped a lot of blame from the media this year because, let’s face it, he’s not No. 54 or No. 55 and we don’t expect the same from him. On the few carries we saw Adrian Peterson get going, it was often Roach who was out of place or failing to make a tackle.
Playing Time For Starters: 39-10 with under 13 minutes to go in the game and a beat-up Julius Peppers is still in the game despite rookie quarterback Christian Ponder entering for Minnesota. It didn’t result in any injuries for the Bears, but the fact that it could drives me nuts. The same with Cutler remaining in the game when the Bears took over on downs with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
More Wasted Timeouts: They didn’t end up mattering in a route but calling a timeout 36 seconds into the game because the defense doesn’t know where to line up is unacceptable. Another timeout burned because a play wasn’t sent in soon enough was frustrating to watch, luckily this week it didn’t end up costing the Bears a chance at points.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t see anyone on the Bears play particularly awful which is a pleasant change. Tyler Clutts whiffed on a few blocks in the running game and had what could have been a costly fumble, but outside of that it was a pretty solid effort by the Bears as a whole. With that said, there were a few things that were ugly in Sunday night’s game…
Bob Costas At Halftime: We always get two minutes on Sunday night to hear what Bob Costas is thinking about one of the bigger stories of the day in the NFL. He chose to defend Jim Harbaugh’s actions in Detroit on Sunday, while also impersonating Charlie Sheen’s “Winning” phrase at one point. You’re better than this, Bob.
Donovan McNabb: The time has come for Mt. Carmel’s very own to not be a starting quarterback in the NFL anymore. No, his offensive line didn’t protect him particularly well on Sunday but he was short on plenty of throws and looked like a worn-down, veteran quarterback looks. I’m guessing we’ve seen our last of Donovan McNabb in Soldier Field as a starting quarterback, and a tip of the cap as he’ll finish 6-2 in his career. Although not overly impressive, there’s no reason the Vikings shouldn’t let the Christian Ponder experiment begin.
It ended up being a big win for the Bears as they kepttheir playoff hopes alive and face another big game next week against Tampa Bay. Assuming the Bears don’t win the NFC North (which seems plenty safe at this point), holding a potential tie-breaker over Tampa Bay with a head-to-head win is a must.
Follow Nick Shepkowski on Twitter (@Shep670).