Some quick reactions from the Bears' 27-24 overtime victory as they ended the Saints' season for the third straight year:
*** If that was not the best game by middle linebacker Brian Urlacher this season, it was his best game in some time. Urlacher led the defense in tackles, according to press box statistics, with 10. It's the first time Urlacher has led the team in tackles since Week 4 when he tied with safety Kevin Payne at the top of the list with 10 against Philadelphia. It's also the first time he's been the outright leader in tackles for a game as he tied with Lance Briggs for top honors in the opener at Indianapolis.
Of course, numbers from this game are not official yet, but you didn't need to study the stat sheet to know he made an impact. Urlacher was solid in the run game which gave up a 42-yard touchdown to Pierre Thomas but still managed to limit the Saints to 3.7 yards per carry--119 yards on 32 rushes. Urlacher was also given credit for a pass defense.
"The No. 1 offense poses a big challenge,'' he said of the Saints. "They have the No. 1 quarterback in the NFL and they're running the ball better than they have in the past. It was a big challenge for us overall. We played better in the first half than we did in the second half but we made enough plays to win the game."
*** Still not sure about the fake punt call midway through the fourth quarter with a three-point lead. The Bears were on their own 47-yard line and the way Brad Maynard has been hitting the ball lately, he likely would have had the Saints pinned back on their own 15-yard line with a kick. But New Orleans gave then a favorable look with only six defenders in the box and double teams on both gunners. The Bears still dispute the call that Adrian Peterson did not catch the pass. If you can see the replay, check out Craig Steltz in the flat. He was open.
*** Too bad for Danieal Manning it's too late for him to get a push for the Pro Bowl as a return man. He's deserving. He entered this week third in the league averaging 28.0 yards per return. The 83-yard touchdown and his 52-yard return helped push that number to 29.5. The 0-yard return after the Saints' go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter sabotaged his numbers some.
*** Tight end Greg Olsen had a career-high eight receptions. They went for a total of 46 yards.
*** The best play of the night was for Kyle Orton to tell Devin Hester to go deep. The Bears had 226 yards offense and netted 77 yards on two pass interference penalties he drew against the banged up and maligned Saints secondary. Hester's 20-yard reception got the Bears out of their own end on the drive that resulted in the game-tying field goal.
*** No Kevin Jones on offense? Seems to me the Bears know what they have in Peterson.
*** No one will benefit more with 11 days until the Green Bay Packers come to Soldier Field than Matt Forte. The rookie running back banged up his right toe and didn't look the same after coming back in the game. The short preparation week doesn't seem so short after a victory.
*** Hester keeps getting better as a receiver and the case can be made he keeps getting worse as a punt returner. His average is down to 5.6 yards. Leon Johnson was capable of that.
*** Robbie Gould becomes the first Bears' player in history to score 100 points in three consecutive seasons. He has 105 points and is 23-for-26 in field goals on the season.
*** And a final word from Manning ... "I feel like we are putting pressure on Minnesota now. We still have two more games to win out and a tough task ahead of us."
A quick look at Fox's web site shows that Ch. 32 will air the Green Bay-Jacksonville game at noon. That means you'll need Sunday Ticket to catch the Minnesota game at Arizona or you'll have to head some place with it to catch the action. CBS has the doubleheader with Buffalo and the New York Jets followed by Baltimore and Pittsburgh.