Supercharged!

Bears-San Diego collide at Soldier Field with playoffs as a backdrop

November 20, 2011|RedEye

It's never too early to start thinking about the NFL playoffs. In fact, now is the perfect time to start thinking about the NFL playoffs.

With struggling San Diego in town to face the Bears and just six games remaining after this week, Sunday's matchup at Soldier Field was what you might call a huge game.

By the time the Bears took the field, NFC North rival Detroit had already won to move a game ahead of the Bears. The Chargers had lost four straight games and had watched as two AFC West teams won before kickoff.

The stakes were high. And the action on the field reflected that. You could say the atmosphere was electric. So which team's playoff hopes were rising or falling? Here's the supercharged analysis.

FIRST QUARTER

>> The Chargers come out of the gate fast, rolling easily downfield on the Bears D. It all came to a screeching halt in the red zone, however, as the Chargers settled for a field goal.

SCORE: San Diego 3, Bears 0

BEARS: No charge | SAN DIEGO: Charging

>> The Bears responded with a 4-and-a-half-minute drive of their own, but they, too, bogged down as they neared paydirt and turned to always-reliable Robbie Gould for the chip-shot 42-yard field goal.

SCORE: San Diego 3, Bears 3

BEARS: Charging | SAN DIEGO: Charging

SECOND QUARTER

>> After almost 10 scoreless minutes to start the second half, the Bears needed just five plays to jump out to a 10-3 lead. Jay Cutler connected to Earl Bennett for 26 yards to start the drive, and Marion "The Barbarian" Barber finished it off with 1-yard run.

SCORE: Bears 10, San Diego 3

BEARS: Charging | San Diego: No charge

>> But wait, San Diego responds with Phillip Rivers passing for 79 yards, 71 to Vincent Jackson, including an 8-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gates with just two minutes left in the half.

SCORE: Bears 10, San Diego 10

BEARS: Charging | SAN DIEGO: Charging

>> Two minutes is all Cutler needs, apparently. After Johnny Knox returns the kickoff 53 yards, Cutler has a short field—and he makes it even shorter with a 34-yard completion to Bennett. Then, Cutler finishes the drive with a 4-yarder to Kellen Davis.

SCORE: Bears 17, San Diego 10

BEARS: FULLY CHARGED | San Diego: No charge

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THIRD QUARTER

>> It's the Rivers-Jackson show again, as the two spark the Chargers' opening drive of the second half, resulting in a five-yard score.

SCORE: Bears 17, San Diego 17

BEARS: Charging | SAN DIEGO: Charging

>> Like two heavyweights exchanging punches, the Bears respond, with receiver Roy Williams acting as the spark plug with three catches for 34 yards. Cutler takes matters into his own hands in the end, leaping for a one-yard touchdown.

SCORE: Bears 24, San Diego 17

BEARS: Charging | San Diego: No charge

>> 49 seconds later, the Bears score again, as Charles Tillman forces a Chargers fumble that results in an amazing throw by Cutler and an even more amazing catch by Knox for a 24-yard touchdown. Shocking turn of events!

SCORE: Bears 31, San Diego 17

BEARS: Fully charged | San Diego: No charge

FOURTH QUARTER

>> The Chargers get back three of the 14 points they just gave up on a Nick Novak 48-yard field goal. And that's all they get back as the Bears shut them out the rest of the way.

SCORE: Bears 31, San Diego 20

BEARS: Fully charged | San Diego: No charge

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