Bears get reprieve with Rams win

Alex Brown wasn’t about to make any bold proclamations. The

defensive end sees what’s staring at the Chicago Bears and that’s a

dose of reality.

A 17-9 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday was a nice,

refreshing reprieve for a team that had dropped four in a row and

six of seven. Brown, however, wasn’t checking the standings.

“I don’t know the chances, I’m not a math guy, but if there is

a possibility, we just got to win,” he said.

At 5-7, the Bears will likely miss the postseason for the third

straight year and are starting a tough three-game stretch with

Green Bay and continues with Baltimore and Minnesota – all teams

with playoff aspirations.

It would help if the Bears had Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs

and receiver Devin Hester, but their status is in question. Briggs

sat out the Rams game because of a sprained left knee, and Hester

left with a calf injury after being hit for a loss early in the

third quarter.

Coach Lovie Smith said “hopefully” Hester’s injury is not too

serious and they’ll “have him back out there before too

long.”

Hester had a shining moment before leaving the field when he

leaped between two defenders on a 48-yard catch that helped set up

Chicago’s first touchdown. He was hit for a 3-yard loss on his lone

punt return. Several other punts were downed by the Rams, pinning

the Bears deep, yet Chicago still managed to prevail in a win only

Brian Urlacher could love.

The injured linebacker last week took what many interpreted as

shots at Jay Cutler and running back Matt Forte while wondering why

the Bears were relying more on the pass than the run and their

defense. Then, they reverted to their old formula after a strong

first quarter by Cutler that included a 71-yard pass along with

that deep throw to Hester.

Cutler had 131 yards in that opening period. He threw for only

12 more the rest of the way.

A running game that ranked dead last did a somewhat better job

with Chris Williams filling in for the injured Orlando Pace (groin)

at left tackle and Kevin Shaffer starting on the right side.

Forte ran for 91 yards, the most for him since he had 121

against Detroit in Week 4, yet he also lost a fumble. And the Bears

averaged just 3.2 yards on 38 attempts.

Smith said Cutler’s strong start “allowed us to get the rushing

game going” and added, “Whenever you have 38 rushes, that’s a

good thing this time of the year.”

Maybe, but the Bears didn’t bring in Cutler to be a game

manager. Although balance helps, their future largely hinges on the

rifle arm he brought from Denver even if he was tied for the league

lead with 20 interceptions through Sunday.

Cutler, who did not get picked off by the Rams, did said his

throwing hand got “dinged” during the game. That wasn’t the

reason for going with the run, Smith said.

“We had a lead,” he said. “Our defense was playing good

football. And you try to win the surest way. There’s no more than

that. Jay should be good to go.”

Smith was particularly impressed by Jamar Williams, who filled

in for Briggs at weakside linebacker and was credited with 18

tackles in the postgame stats. So was Brown.

“He’s been deserving a lot of credit for coming out and

replacing a guy like Lance Briggs, who’s probably the best player

at his position in the NFL,” Brown said. “To come in and play

that well for him, I think it says a lot about the guys that we

have as far as our backups. … Hopefully, we see a lot more of

him. We still want Briggs, though.”

Williams played his way into a bigger role, perhaps getting more

snaps at strongside linebacker or rotating between positions when

Briggs returns.

“By his play yesterday, it said that ‘I need more reps,”’

Smith said. “We listen, and we watch everything that’s happening.

We like what we saw.”