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Bears offense grows up

Ability to overcome struggles a good sign for Chicago

Posted: Tuesday September 26, 2006 12:06PM; Updated: Tuesday September 26, 2006 5:42PM
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Despite struggling on Sunday, Bears quarterback Rex Grossman still ranks fifth in the NFL with a 100.9 passer rating.
Despite struggling on Sunday, Bears quarterback Rex Grossman still ranks fifth in the NFL with a 100.9 passer rating.
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Some major questions about the legitimacy of the Chicago Bears' offensive improvement were answered inside a boisterous, sold-out Metrodome late Sunday afternoon. Down 16-12, the Bears had a short field in their favor and momentum on their side (courtesy of a fumble by Vikings running back Chester Taylor at the 37 with 3:38 remaining). Even though Chicago hadn't scored an offensive touchdown up until that point, the Bears had the look of a team ready to snatch a win away from its opponent.

We all know what happened next: The Bears won 19-16 on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Rex Grossman to wide receiver Rashied Davis. What might have been missed, however, was the significance of that five-play drive. In short, the Bears' offense grew up on that possession. They became the type of unit that can actually deliver in the clutch. As coach Lovie Smith said afterwards, "For our offense to take the next step in our development, we needed to have a drive like that to win a game."

As impressive as the Bears offense has looked this season -- particularly in blowout wins over Green Bay and Detroit to start the year -- Sunday's victory revealed the type of resilience every team needs to succeed, especially with the undefeated Seattle Seahawks coming to town on Sunday. Let's face it: There is no great glory gained from beating the Lions or the Packers. Nobody is going to give you credit for the effort you put in.

The Bears' win over Minnesota was a different story. The Vikings frustrated Chicago's offense for more than 56 minutes. They disrupted Chicago's blocking schemes with well-timed blitzes from linebackers. They shut down the Bears running game by stacking the line of scrimmage with eight and nine defenders. They made life so difficult for Grossman that he lofted a pass into the right flat early in the fourth quarter as he backpedaled into his own end zone to evade the pass rush. Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield intercepted the errant throw and returned it for Minnesota's only touchdown.

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