Chicago Bears: Detroit Lions
“We just got back to the fundamentals,” Bears safety Chris Conte said. “We knew we didn’t play well the last time we came out and played against them. We just wanted to improve on that today, and I thought we had a good game plan and good energy on defense today.
“It always hurts to lose, but I think there are things we can take out of this game that are encouraging, and we can see that we can be a really good team. We have a lot of young guys and they are improving and getting better each week. I think you can tell we are starting to come together a little bit on defense.”
Conte, in particular, enjoyed more success versus the Lions than he had in recent weeks. Although Conte did commit at least one obvious mistake in the third quarterback when he took a poor angle and whiffed on Lions running back Reggie Bush in the open field on a play that gained 39 yards, the safety bounced back with a key interception in the fourth quarter.
With the Bears trailing 14-10, Conte picked off an errant Matthew Stafford pass and returned it 35 yards to the Lions' 9-yard line. The Bears eventually settled for a field goal to cut the Detroit lead to one point.
“We were just playing Cover-2 and I was just reading the quarterback,” Conte said. “He put the ball up and I just went up and got it. But I needed to score on that. So I need to help out the offense and score there.”
In addition to the interception, Conte finished the game with three tackles and three passes defensed.
“(Conte) has been in the tank for a little bit,” Bears safety Major Wright said. “With me, I’m trying to motivate him and help him get back together. For me, he came out and had a great game for us, and that is what he needed.”
However, the game ended on a low note for the defense when Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson caught what turned out to be a game-winning 14 yard touchdown pass with 2:22 left on the clock. Johnson beat veteran cornerback Charles Tillman, who appeared to be in man coverage, in the back corner of the endzone for the score. Johnson did end the game with a pair of touchdowns, but he caught just six passes for 83 yards on 17 targets.
“It’s pretty tough (to defend Johnson one-on-one) when you look at his size, look at his speed,” Wright said. “He’s pretty good at catching the ball. You really can’t ask for much more with how this defense played him, not just one guy but all of us.”
Jay Cutler tossed three interceptions the last time these teams met, and the Lions scored on six consecutive possessions to seize a 30-10 lead in the second quarter en route to a 40-32 win. With sole possession of first place in the NFC North on the line, obviously the Bears hope for a different result this time around. But the Lions are hungry as they hold a share of the division lead for the first time in more than 10 years.
ESPN.com Bears reporter Michael C. Wright and Lions reporter Michael Rothstein break down the matchup.
Michael C. Wright: It's been more than 10 years since the Lions were at the top of the division standings after the first half of the season. How is Detroit handling the success?
Michael Rothstein: They seem to be handling it fine thus far, but that could be because a lot of these guys haven't been around for a lot of the losing seasons. Plus, a lot of the guys who have been around in the past were on Detroit's playoff team in 2011. So they have seen some Lions success and not the consistent failure of the early to mid-2000s. There is also a confidence level about this team, something you saw two weeks ago in the final seven minutes against Dallas, which seems to be different than in prior years. This team believes it can win close games, and that in itself is a big difference.
Wright: The Lions incorporate tons of speed on offense, but what happens when they're on a slower track such as what they might encounter with the conditions at Soldier Field? Is there anything the Lions would try to do to counteract what might be a sloppy field?
Rothstein: It's slower for everyone, though, right? In all seriousness, I don't know how much they would do differently. Perhaps Detroit will use Joique Bell a little bit more out of the backfield instead of Reggie Bush, but that could be due to Bush potentially playing more in the slot Sunday depending on Nate Burleson's health. Detroit's offense won't change much. It'll still rely heavily on Matthew Stafford's ability to find open receivers, Calvin Johnson's ability to make big plays and Bush's capability to make plays in small spaces.
Wright: Nate Burleson recently returned to practice. But what's his status for Sunday? If he's available, what does he bring to the offense?
Rothstein: His status is completely questionable and likely will be until Friday. Burleson wants to play. He's been focused a lot on this week as a potential return date and he is practicing. But Detroit is going to be cautious with its No. 2 receiver because it doesn't want him to reinjure the arm by coming back too fast and taking a bad hit. Burleson's big thing now isn't conditioning -- he says he's in pretty good football form -- but learning how to fall and not use his arm to brace said falls. He could play Sunday, but Detroit is going to need him for the stretch run.
The Jay Cutler situation is obviously pretty fluid. How, if at all, does the Bears' offense change if he does not play?
Wright: It doesn't change much at all. In fact, the only difference in the offense would come down to a matter of personal preferences for McCown. The coaching staff includes the quarterbacks when putting together a game plan, and it always asks them which plays they think they could be more successful with. Obviously McCown and Cutler are different people with different preferences. So that would be the only change, schematically. In terms of overall play, McCown's arm isn't as strong as Cutler's. So he incorporates more anticipation in his game than the starter. McCown is decisive with the ball, makes smart decisions and won't take unnecessary risks, which is a little different than Cutler, who sometimes gambles and forces throws into coverage in part because of his confidence in his arm.
Rothstein: The last time Detroit saw Chicago, Lance Briggs was in the middle. How much has his absence shifted the defense from the last time the Lions saw the Bears?
Wright: Well, they've played only one game since Briggs fractured his shoulder Oct. 20 at Washington, and the defense on Monday night suffered through many of the same struggles they've gone through all season with the veteran in the lineup. The Bears now have two rookies in the starting lineup at middle linebacker in Jonathan Bostic (middle) and Khaseem Greene, who has taken over on the weak side for Briggs. Against the Packers the club struggled with gap fits against Eddie Lacy, who rushed for 150 yards. The pass rush improved a great deal, and the team finished with five sacks. But stopping the run has been a challenge. Surprisingly, the Bears are 3-1 this season when they allow a running back to gain 100 yards or more with the only loss under those circumstances coming to the Lions.
Rothstein: This has probably been somewhat forgotten, but Lions vice chairman Bill Ford Jr. called the Bears the "same bunch of thugs" earlier this season. Has that been mentioned at all? Does it matter?
Wright: It was mentioned by cornerback Tim Jennings in the aftermath of the last matchup, but it hasn't been since.
Asked about Ford's comments, Jennings said: "So he wants to call us thugs. We can take that as a compliment, I guess. We like to think we're playing nasty. But we play within the rules, you know? I don't know whether he's just meaning we're dirty or we're just a nasty defense. We weren't too nasty when we played them. So I don't know what he's trying to get out of it."
It's quite obvious these teams don't like one another, and surely the Bears want to atone for the 40-32 beatdown the Lions put on them in the first matchup. But my sense is with a short week of preparation, the Bears are focused and want to downplay any type of bulletin board material.
A medical source with first-hand experience treating NFL players, but who does not have direct access to Cutler’s medical records, does believe it is possible for the quarterback to return to the field exactly three weeks after suffering a torn muscle in the groin region versus the Washington Redskins on Oct. 20, but not without certain limitations.
Per the source, Cutler’s injured groin muscle could compromise the quarterback’s ability to drop back in the pocket with the customary scissor step after taking a snap from center, perhaps forcing the Bears to run the majority of their offense out of the shotgun, which is a formation they use quite a bit normally.
The Lions have one of the most feared defensive lines in the NFL, led by tackle Ndamukong Suh, who leads the club with 3.5 sacks. There is a very strong likelihood that Cutler will be forced to move outside of the pocket if he plays on Sunday based on the Lions’ track record of aggressive play from their defensive front.
But the very nature of the quarterback position does leave open the possibility that Cutler is back on the field well before the original four-to-six-week time frame initially laid out by the club, the source explains. While other position groups such as wide receivers, defensive backs or defensive lineman would likely need more time to recover from a tear in the groin region, the odds are greater that a determined stationary quarterback could push up the return date.
Plus, Cutler, with the help of the Bears’ medical staff, says he has aggressively attacked his rehabilitation in the last two and a half weeks, telling ESPN 1000’s “Waddle and Silvy Show” that he is having platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections and using an ARP machine to speed up the recovery process.
Also, Cutler’s throwing motion and delivery shouldn’t be affected all that much if he takes the field on Sunday, the source noted, especially considering the strength of Cutler’s arm.
However, there is an increased risk that if Cutler plays on Sunday, he could reinjure the groin and be out indefinitely. That is one of the risks the Bears are expected to weigh this week as they inch closer to making their final determination.
The other variable is that veteran backup Josh McCown is coming off an excellent game versus the Green Bay Packers. He completed 22 of 41 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns. Since replacing Cutler in Washington, McCown has gone 36-of-61 for 476 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 100.2 quarterback rating.
The Bears face some interesting questions this week:
- Is a healthy and confident McCown a better option to run the offense on Sunday than Cutler if Cutler is in a limited state?
- How will Cutler respond if the Bears refuse to clear him for Sunday?
- How will the team respond if Cutler starts and struggles with a red-hot McCown standing on the sidelines?
- The most relevant question: Who gives the Bears the best shot to win on Sunday, even if Cutler is medically cleared?
The next 24 hours should tell us where this is headed.
Cutler is expected to test out his injured groin muscle on the practice field on Thursday to give the Bears an idea of where he is at physically in regards to potentially starting at quarterback Sunday versus the Detroit Lions.
In other injury news, linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder), defensive tackle Jay Ratliff (groin) and long snapper Patrick Mannelly (calf) would not have participated on Wednesday.
Mannelly is considered week-to-week and is not expected to be active this weekend, while Ratliff told ESPN 1000’s “Waddle and Silvy Show” on Monday that he is still “a couple of weeks” away from returning from his injury.
Linebacker Blake Costanzo (back), tight end Dante Rosario (ankle) and cornerback Charles Tillman (knee) were also listed as being limited.
“Kris Durham made a couple big plays at the end, probably no bigger than recovering the last onside kick,” Schwartz said. “He took a big shot for it, too. We talk a lot about player safety and he’s lying prone on the ground and is getting himself up and takes a helmet right to the back and we don’t get any call there. It’s a little hypocritical to talk about player safety when we allow that to not get called. Kris toughed it out, and he had to hold onto that ball and he did. He did a nice job today”
The league did fine Bostic $21,000 in the preseason for lowering his head and making forcible contact with a defenseless player. Bostic appealed the fine.
“We’ll see how well he is prepared to block me when we play on Sunday,” Suh said. “That’s their opinion. That’s their choice. That’s their draft.
“It’s not anything of my concern. I just look forward to digest whoever I have in front of me.”
Suh has three career sacks and 13 tackles against Chicago, but as it is with a lot of his opponents, what he does is more about disruptions and pressure on opposing quarterbacks and offensive lines.
He is a strong enough player that teams have to pay attention to him even if the numbers he puts up aren’t gaudy.
“It’s always nice to be noticed, but to me it’s not necessarily a compliment,” Suh said. “It’s just, it is something that they felt they needed to do and they did it, and I look forward to the challenge.”
There is little question, though, that Chicago will keep an eye on Suh.
"I've been doing some early preparations," Long said on "Football Night in Chicago" on ESPN 1000. "I've been trying to sharpen my mental sword I guess you could say. I've been just trying to pick up some tendencies that I can use against their defense, hopefully.
"Suh is just relentless. He is a relentless football player. He is somebody that is just going to always keep coming and give you his best. He's got that kind of presence where you're like, ‘I can't take a play off.' If you do, he will expose you. What people can't see through all the time with all the media scrutiny is truly how great of a player Suh is and how great of a player (Nick) Fairley is and the devastation those two guys can impose on an offense."
Bears coach Marc Trestman also respects the Lions' tandem.
“(Suh is) one of the best in the business at what he does,” Trestman said. “Both tackles, Fairley too, they’re both powerful guys and they penetrate and they do all the things you’re looking for in defensive linemen.”
In the NFL, teams are required to move on from a victory or a defeat at lightning speed, and for Long and the rest of the Bears’ offense linemen, that means getting a jump start on their next opponent: the Detroit Lions.
Long said Tuesday night on ESPN 1000’s “Football Night in Chicago” he began the process of breaking down film on Detroit’s talent defensive tackle duo of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley since early in the week to get a jump start on the process.
“I’ve been doing some early preparations,” Long said. “I’ve been trying to sharpen my mental sword I guess you could say. I’ve been just trying to pick up some tendencies that I can use against their defense, hopefully.
"Suh is just relentless. He is a relentless football player. He is somebody that is just going to always keep coming and give you his best. He’s got that kind of presence where you’re like, ‘I can’t take a play off.’ If you do, he will expose you.”
The upcoming battle between Long and Suh could be especially physical on Sunday since both players are known for their strength and nasty on-the-field demeanor. Although Long has yet to cross the line after the whistle the way Suh has throughout his three-plus years in the league. Suh is without a sack through the first three games of 2013, but his 8.0 sacks last year was the second-highest total of any defensive tackle. Fairley is second on the Lions defense with 1.5 sacks, behind rookie defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (2.5).
“What people can’t see through all the time with all the media scrutiny is truly how great of a player Suh is and how great of a player Fairley is and the devastation those two guys can impose on an offense,” Long said.
Schefter reports Ellis will also meet with the Detroit Lions after he visited the New England Patriots at the end of last week.
Selected No. 7 overall in the 2008 NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints, Ellis played five years for New Orleans, recording just 12.5 sacks.
Ellis had 36 tackles in 16 games for the Saints last season, but zero sacks. Ellis is considered more of a three-technique pass-rushing defensive end as opposed to a run-stopper.
The Bears have already made a handful of moves at tackle in the offseason; the club brought back defensive tackle Nate Collins and also signed DT Corvey Irvin, the 2009 third-round pick of the Carolina Panthers. The Bears briefly had veteran tackle Andre Fluellen on the roster, but he was released. There are also several undrafted rookie defensive tackles under contract with the Bears.
Former Bears defensive tackle Amobi Okoye remains unsigned.
Week 17 Report Card: Chicago Bears 26, Detroit Lions 24
With Michael Bush out of the lineup, it was nice to see the Bears show some faith in Kahlil Bell, who spelled Matt Forte some. The Bears fed Forte the ball a season-high 24 times, and he finished with his third 100-yard rushing performance of the season. In all, the Bears ran the ball 35 times for 144 yards and a touchdown. That efficiency with the rushing attack made a difference in Chicago winning the time-of-possession battle (34:09-25:51).
The Bears finally leaned on the other receivers such as Alshon Jeffery and Earl Bennett, and the duo delivered. The grade would be an "A" had Brandon Marshall been able to make a more significant contribution. Marshall's block did allow Bennett to break free on his 60-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter, but he the No.1 receiver finished with five catches for 42 yards and failed to come up big for the team when it needed him in the red zone. The offensive line gave up only one sack, and Cutler finished with a passer rating of 95.8, in addition breaking 19 yards on a scramble with the game on the line.
Mikel Leshoure seemed to have a few moments, but for the most part the Bears stuffed him. Leshoure led the Lions with 57 yards on 15 carries, and Joie Bell added six yards on two attempts. Because of their inability to run the ball consistently, and the fact they were playing from behind all game, the Lions were forced to throw 42 times. That's too many chances to take against a defense that thrives off turnovers. So by stopping the run, the Bears basically forced the Lions into the mistake-filled day they experienced.
Calvin Johnson needed 108 yards to reach 2,000 and with little for Detroit to play for, it was almost a given it would focus on helping the receiver the milestone. Matthew Stafford threw 14 balls in Johnson's direction, and the receiver came up with just five of them for 72 yards and no touchdowns. Although the Bears registered only one sack, the front four generated sufficient pressure and forced Stafford to throw some errant passes. The Bears also stripped one ball away from Stafford that the offense turned into points. Tim Jennings picked off his ninth pass of the season, and Charles Tillman pretty much locked down Johnson.
Devin Hester averaged 2 yards on three punt returns, and on kickoffs he was outdone by Detroit's Bell. Hester also made a crucial mistake on the kickoff to start the second half by deciding to bring out a ball that traveled 5 yards deep into the end zone. That led the Bears starting their first drive of the second half from their own 5. Special teams coach Dave Toub has spoken a lot recently about Hester's decision-making issues. This game was a prime example. Olindo Mare made four of his five field goals, and Eric Weems recovered a fumble.
The Bears captured a victory to keep alive their hopes for the postseason, and the staff prepared the players during difficult circumstances with all the speculation swirling regarding Lovie Smith's job security. On the offensive side, it appears the Bears prepared thoroughly for Detroit taking away Marshall, and that showed by the types of performances put together by Bennett and Jeffery. On defense, the Bears put together a strong game plan to stop Johnson and the players executed.
Forte, who rushed for 103 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown, also went over 1,000 rushing yards for the season (1,094) for the third time in his five-year NFL career. He reached 997 yards on the ground last season before being forced to miss the final four games with a knee sprain. In 2009, Forte rushed for 929 yards despite playing through a variety of injuries.
DETROIT -- Despite a fast start, the Chicago Bears wound up escaping Ford Field with a 26-24 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday to keep alive their hopes for salvaging the club's second consecutive late-season collapse.
The Bears scored 16 points off four turnovers, but the performance on offense didn't inspire much confidence about the club's prospects in the postseason, should it advance.
Let's look closer.
What it means: The Bears finish the season 10-6, but it's still unknown whether they did enough to advance to the playoffs. Chicago certainly took care of its part, but now it needs the Green Bay Packers to defeat the Minnesota Vikings. If the Packers defeat the Vikings later on Sunday, the Bears advance to the postseason as the sixth seed, and will face the San Francisco 49ers on the road to open the playoffs.
Diversity pays off: Jay Cutler completed passes to six receivers in the first half, which is the most he's hit in a game since the club's 21-14 loss on Dec. 9 to the Vikings. With the Lions geared up to shut down Brandon Marshall, Cutler fired a 55-yard strike to Alshon Jeffery on Chicago's first play from scrimmage before hitting Evan Rodriguez on the next play. By spreading the ball around early, Cutler opened up things for the entire team.
It's almost a given that on most passes, Cutler looks solely for Marshall. But against the Lions, Cutler gave his other receivers opportunities to make plays and they delivered. Earl Bennett caught a 60-yard touchdown from Cutler with 4:33 left in the first quarter to give the Bears a 7-3 lead after Olindo Mare's extra-point kick.
With 13:37 left to play, Bennett and Jeffery had already combined for 185 yards and a touchdown on nine receptions. The Bears certainly needed the contributions. With 6:50 left to play, Marshall caught a 19-yard pass, his fifth of the game. The Lions for the most part neutralized Marshall, holding him to just 42 yards receiving.
Turnover tally: The Bears scored 13 points off turnovers, but blew an opportunity to turn those giveaways into more; 28 points, potentially. Julius Peppers, Major Wright, and Eric Weems each scooped up fumbles, while Tim Jennings increased his league-leading interception total to nine with his pick in the second quarter.
Peppers' fumble recovery off a Israel Idonije sack and strip of Stafford marked the only takeaway the Bears turned into a touchdown (a 1-yard run by Matt Forte). Chicago settled for field goals on the rest. The Bears came into the game with a record of 50-12 in games in which they finished with a positive turnover margin.
Decision-making costly: During the week of preparation for Sunday's game, special teams coordinator Dave Toub talked extensively about the need for Devin Hester to make better decisions when fielding punts. Toub should've discussed decision-making on kickoffs with Hester as well. Hester fielded a kickoff 5 yards deep in his end zone and attempted to bring it out. Lions special teams ace Kassim Osgood dropped Hester on the Chicago 5, forcing the Bears to start in bad field position on their first drive of the second half.
The offense managed to move the ball 41 yards before punting after eight plays. But Hester would have given the offense a better chance to succeed by downing the kickoff for a touchback that would've given the group possession at the 20 instead of its own 5.
What's next: The waiting game as the Bears fly on a charter home that isn't even equipped with Wi-Fi to keep them connected to what's going on in some of the other games. With the Green Bay-Minnesota matchup kicking off at 4:25 p.m. ET, the Bears won't immediately know their postseason fate. But if the Packers win, the Bears will face the 49ers in the opening round of the NFC playoffs. If the Vikings win, Chicago's season ends and an offseason of uncertainty begins.
The Bears don't need to tweak much in the locker room at the half. They simply need to maintain.
Let's take a look at a few potential halftime adjustments for the Bears:
ESTABLISH FORTE, BUT DON'T FORGET ABOUT BELL
Matt Forte ran for just 11 yards on four attempts in the first quarter as the Bears called six pass plays to start the game. Chicago can increase the effectiveness of the playaction passing game if it starts to call for more handoffs. Obviously, Forte remains the go-to back, and they need to call more plays for him. Forte broke off back-to-back runs of 11 and 13 yards on his first two carries of the second quarter, and ran three times in a row to start a drive that should have resulted in three points, had Olindo Mare not missed a 33-yard field goal.
The Bears also utilized Devin Hester and Kahlil Bell in the running game. Bell converted a third-and-1 in the first quarter, and spelled Forte for a while at the end of the first half. Bell finished the first half with 12 yards on three attempts. Perhaps the Bears should utilize Forte and Bell more as a one-two punch because what they're doing now is working well.
CHICAGO BEARS at DETROIT LIONSWhen: Noon Sunday | TV: FOX, locally: Ch. 32, WFLD-TV
RADIO: 780 AM, WBBM & 105.9 FM; WLEY (107.9 FM)
CHICAGO BEARS (9-6)
Coach: Lovie Smith | Record including playoffs: 83-66
Career record (including playoffs) vs. Jim Schwartz: 6-1 | Career record vs. Lions: 12-5
Last week: Defeated Arizona Cardinals 28-13.
Key stat: The Bears have won eight of the past nine games in this series, including a 13-7 win in Week 7 at Soldier Field. The importance of a fast start for the Bears can’t be emphasized enough. When the Bears score first, they’re 7-2 this season and 12-5 over the past two years. The Bears are 13-2 over the past two seasons when they lead after the first quarter.
Offense rank: 28th (305.3 YPG) | Defense rank: Fifth (314.9 YPG).
Offensive leader: Recently named to his fourth Pro Bowl, receiver Brandon Marshall ranks No. 2 in the NFL in catches (113), which is already a Bears franchise record, as are his 1,466 yards receiving. Given the fact that he’s caught more than 40 percent of all receptions for Chicago, the Lions know they need to take him away and force the other Bears receivers to beat them. But can they do it? Other teams have tried and failed, while a few have experienced success.
Defensive leader: Cornerback Charles Tillman was named to his second Pro Bowl earlier in the week, and is coming off a performance against Arizona in which he returned his third interception for a touchdown. Tillman will be tasked with covering Detroit record-breaking receiver Calvin Johnson, and he’s experienced plenty of success against the Lions’ top target, holding him to just three catches in the first meeting. With Chicago’s defensive line playing the way it is, Tillman’s job might be easier this game.
Marshall needs one more 100-yard receiving game to take sole possession of the top spot in franchise history for the most 100-yard games in a single season. Marshall is currently tied with Jeff Graham and Harlon Hill for No. 1 on the list with seven.
With 25 touchdowns, Matt Forte needs one more to tie Hugh Gallarneau for the fifth-most rushing TDs in franchise history.
The Bears need one more INT return TD to tie the 1961 San Diego Chargers for the most in a single season in NFL history.
The Bears have won seven consecutive games in which they scored at least one defensive touchdown.
DETROIT LIONS (4-11)
Coach: Jim Schwartz | Record: 22-41
Career head-to-head record vs. Smith: 1-6 | Career record vs. Bears: 1-6
Last week: Lost 31-18 to the Atlanta Falcons.
Key stat: The Detroit Lions are on pace to average more than 400 yards per game for the first time in franchise history, and are one of only two teams (New Orleans is the other) to average more than 300 yards per game through the air. The Lions rank No. 2 in total first downs (363) and seventh in third-down percentage (42.1).
Offense rank: Second (414.2 YPG) | Defense rank: 13th (337.9 YPG).
Offensive leader: Receiver Calvin Johnson now owns the single-season record for receiving yardage (1,892 yards) and appears to have a chance to reach 2,000 yards. He can also set the NFL record for highest yards per game average set in 1961 by Charley Finnegan (124.7-yard average). Reaching those milestones won’t be a cinch, though, with Tillman set to cover Johnson.
Defensive leader: Ndamukong Suh ranks second in sacks by a defensive tackle since 2010 (21), but has shown a penchant for losing control on the field. Suh currently ranks second in sacks by a defensive tackle (seven), is tied for first with eight tackles for lost yardage on runs, and No. 2 in combined sacks and tackles for loss on rushing plays (15).
The Lions have scored 19 touchdowns on their last 26 possessions in the red zone.
With 4,695 passing yards this season, Stafford needs 305 yards to become the first quarterback in NFL history to reach 5,000 yards through the air in back-to-back seasons.
Detroit’s offensive line leads the NFL in games started for its current team. The starting five has combined for 563 regular-season starts and five postseason starts.
But what if he gets in there, and two series into the game it appears Urlacher is hurting more than helping? That’s a determination the Bears need to make as soon as possible with so much riding on this game.