Third and one: Bears


After Chicago's 36-30 victory over Minnesota, here are three (mostly) indisputable facts I feel relatively sure about:

  1. Left tackle Chris Williams had some help at times, but for the most part he stuffed Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen all night. I watched their matchup on a number of occasions, and Williams displayed the strength and athletic ability to keep up with one of the NFL's best pass-rushers. Allen's unofficial stat line included two tackles, no sacks and one quarterback hit. There should no longer be any doubt about counting on Williams for next season and beyond.

  2. I'm still a bit amazed the Bears survived a game in which they started Craig Steltz and Josh Bullocks at safety and then suffered the loss of cornerback Charles Tillman to a rib injury. I would have thought the Vikings would look to exploit that pass defense right away, but the Bears probably benefited from the decision to focus on running the ball. Steltz is a sure tackler who made some plays against the run, but he is slow in pass defense and should have been exploited more than he was.

  3. Many people are focusing on Jay Cutler's four touchdown passes, which without a doubt illustrated his strong night. But for me, the number “25” was just as important. That's how many carries the Bears got for tailbacks Matt Forte and Kahlil Bell. They combined for a modest 95 yards on those carries, but I thought the commitment to running the ball, regardless of production, was an important part of keeping the Vikings' defense off-balance. As we've discussed before, quantity of running plays is just as important as quality.

And here is one question I'm still asking:

Will this victory save Lovie Smith's job? First of all, I'm not sure if it's in danger. That's still a closely-guarded secret at Bears headquarters. But I really hope it won't impact the Bears' decision one way or the other. If the McCaskey family was impressed with the Bears' performance Monday night, it should be equally disappointed that there weren't more of them during the season. The big picture has to be important. This season has had several bright spots, but ultimately it has been a failure. The Bears need to decide if they think Smith can lead them out of it and should not be influenced by the excitement of one night -- or the disappointment of another.