4:26 PM CST, November 4, 2012
I’ve never seen the Bears play a first quarter like that.
Heck, no one has ever seen a first quarter like the one the Bears laid on the Titans.
For the first time in their long, glorious history, the Bears rang up 28 points before they had played 15 minutes. They got touchdowns from the defense and special teams, and two from the offense, one on the ground, the other in the air.
The Bears scored for the cycle.
If you’ve ever dreamed of seeing the Bears return to the total dominance you remember from 1985, this was it. Real, not imagined, and about as efficiently as you could want.
They blocked a punt for a touchdown. They returned an interception for another pick-6. They used a Devin Hester punt return to score from the Titans’ 8 on one play. They needed two plays for Jay Cutler to hit Brandon Marshall in the end zone after one of their three fumble recoveries.
Brian Urlacher forced a fumble, recovered a fumble and returned an interception for a touchdown in less than 20 minutes. Looks like another Bear who’ll be named Defensive Player of the Week. Heck, defensive player of the half.
Charles Tillman forced two fumbles in the first quarter, while Chris Conte forced a fumble and recovered another. Late in the first half, they fought for a pass in the end zone that one of them should’ve intercepted. But how do you argue with such great defense in the end zone?
Great defense all over, actually, because back when the game was still in question, the Bears stopped the Titans on third-and-1 and third-and-2.
The Bears were so good in the first half that they even completed a screen pass. In fact, Matt Forte’s 47-yard reception that took him from the right side of the field in Bears territory to the left side in Titans territory marked the Bears’ longest pass play this season.
Titans fans would’ve been booing ferociously if Bears fans hadn’t taken over the stadium the way Bears players took over the game.
Of course, there were some wonky sights. Cutler began another game throwing high, wild and wobbly. The Bears failed to get points out of a drive that started in Titans territory. Cutler fumbled on a sack again.
Most troubling, however, is the offense’s failure on consecutive first-and-goal possessions in the third quarter.
On the first drive, Michael Bush gained four yards on two plays, and a third-down pass went nowhere.
On the second attempt, the longest gain was a catch of a deflected pass by right guard Lance Louis.
Is this any way to run an offense?
The massive 31-5 halftime lead should’ve allowed the Bears to practice whatever they wanted. The problem is, they might’ve tried to do exactly that.
Cutler was able to move the offense on those possessions. The Bears did get inside the 10, after all. And later, Cutler lofted a beautiful rainbow to Marshall for a 39-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to make it a ridiculous 44-12.
But the offense’s inability to pay off great situations such as first-and-goal presents an issue. It might prove acutely painful in the final seven games against opponents who ranked in the top 13 in defense heading into Sunday’s games.
Then, look at that: The Bears might’ve learned something about tight and unforgiving situations.
After Tillman forced his fourth fumble --- no lie, his fourth, incredible --- the Bears started first-and-goal at the 2, and Cutler eventually hit Marshall for a score. It didn’t make everything all better, but it counts as improvement.
That’s the type of day it was, one the Bears started and ended with an quick and explosive fury that no one had ever seen.
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