SEATTLE--I have to hot foot it out of Qwest Field pretty soon here to catch the red eye home, but wanted to put together some quick reactions to the Bears' 25-19 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
1. The most impressive element of the victory, greater than even the effort by Jay Cutler down the stretch, was the ability of the Bears to weather the storm. They fell behind 13-0 and had an interception in the red zone by Cutler and a missed 53-yard field goal by Robbie Gould. They also had an 11-yard punt by Brad Maynard that set the Seahawks up with prime field position. Through it all, they hung in there. Yes, Seattle was missing nine projected starters because of injuries, but it's a difficult place to play and this is the kind of game that would have doomed the Bears for sure last season.
2. Matt Forte wasn't much more productive than he has been as a runner--66 yards on 21 carries--but he caught six passes out of the backfield for 40 yards to give him more than 100 yards of offense. Once again, the running game was good enough to provide balance and the Seahawks sure loaded up vs. the run by routinely walking safety Deon Grant down into the box. The thing that was surprising was the third-and-one handoff to Garrett Wolfe early in the fourth quarter after Wolfe had run the ball twice. He was stuffed for a one-yard loss. Asking Wolfe to run up the middle is not playing to his strengths.
3. Johnny Knox continues to look better on kickoff returns, and early in the game that was the Bears' best play. He didn't hesitate running Olindo Mare's kicks out from eight yards deep in the end zone, and gained 53 yards on the first return of the game. Sometimes he tries to make a few too many moves. If he can reduce some of the shake and shimmy and do more one-cut-and-go, he'll probably break one at some point. The blocking has been solid.
4. Cutler did a nice job spreading the ball around, and you'll say that any time a quarterback throws touchdown passes to three different receivers. He really locked in on Brandon Marshall at times in Denver, and he's been getting everyone involved. Earl Bennett made a couple nice plays and should not be overlooked as it was Devin Hester, Johnny Knox and Greg Olsen who made the scores.
5. Offensive coordinator Ron Turner said the Bears figured they were five to seven yards from field goal range when Cutler hit Hester for the game-winning 36-yard touchdown pass. There was 1:52 to play, and the Bears, who trailed 19-17 before the touchdown, were trying to take as much time as possible off the clock. For some reason, some thought the Bears should have tried more to score a touchdown last week when Robbie Gould's 44-yard field goal with 15 seconds remaining propelled them to victory over Pittsburgh.
``We were trying to get yardage,'' Turner said ``We still had a lot of time to still go down and score a touchdown. I mean, that was our first thought, but at least get it in field goal range. We thought they would probably be up trying to stop the run, put eight guys up to stop the run. So we gave Devin a chance to make a play.''
6. Defensive end Alex Brown started on his sprained left ankle but wasn't his active normal self. He was credited with just one tackle in press box statistics. The pass rush, aided by the blitz, was steady. Lance Briggs, Mark Anderson and Anthony Adams all picked up sacks to give the Bears nine after three games. In the final three games of last season, the defense had one sack.
7. Cutler had never played here before and afterward acknowledged that the crowd noise is every bit as loud as it is cracked up to be. The Bears had three false starts--two by Chris Williams and one by Frank Omiyale. Seahawks' opponents average 2.85 per game at Qwest Field. Yes, they keep such a statistic.
8. The Detroit Lions will come to Soldier Field this coming Sunday on a one-game winning streak, which is a huge burden off the organization. The 19-game losing streak, of which Bears defensive line coach Rod Marinelli was present for 17, is in the books after an upset of Washington at Ford Field. My thinking was now with a victory the Lions will not come in with the massive motivation to snap the losing streak against their former head coach.
"We were not worried about that,'' center Olin Kreutz said. ``Just personally for me, I'm glad Dom [Raiola] won a game.''
Raiola, the Lions center, is Kreutz's best friend. Donovan Raiola, his younger brother, is on the Bears' practice squad.
9. After the 36-yard game-winning touchdown catch, Lovie Smith reiterated what he's said time and time again.
"Devin Hester is a No. 1 receiver,'' he said. ``And I hope we can put him in position to make plays like that.''
10. The Bears managed to hang in there despite losing middle linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer to a rib injury in the third quarter. It's not expected to be a bad injury and help is on the way. Pisa Tinoisamoa could return from a sprained right knee this week, and if not this week definitely after the Week 5 bye. The Bears will toss around the idea of Derrick Brooks again, but if the preliminary reports hold accurate, there is a good chance they will pass again. Remember, Brooks had a Hall of Fame career playing weak side in Tampa. That is where he's at his best. The Bears have their best defensive player at that position in Lance Briggs.
10 a. Because it was the most interesting thing anyone said afterward, check out Seahawks coach Jim Mora Jr. on his kicker Olindo Mare, who missed field goals from 43 and 34 yards. Both kicks were wide left and it's the second time in as many weeks the Bears have benefitted from the opponent missing two field goals.
"There' s no excuses for those," Mora said. "If you're a kicker in the National Football League, you should make those kicks. Bottom line. End of story. Period. No excuses. No wind. Doesn't matter.
"You've got to make those kicks, especially in a game like this when you're kicking and scratching and fighting and playing your tail off and you miss those kicks? Not acceptable. Not acceptable. Absolutely not acceptable."
So, planning any changes, coach?
"We'll look at changes everywhere," Mora said. "We're not going to fight our asses off and have the field goal kicker go out there and miss two fields and lose the game. It's not going to happen."
10 b. Rookie third-round draft pick Jarron Gilbert dressed for the game after being inactive for the first two but he did not get in on any action.
10 c. Wide receiver Devin Aromashodu was inactive for the third time. He wasn't able to make a splash on special teams in preseason and that is holding him back because the Bears will not dress more than four receivers each week.
10 d. Tight end Desmond Clark could return from a fractured rib against the Lions after missing only two games.
10 e. The last time the Bears won in Seattle? 1976.