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Bears offense is in defense's debt

OPINION

September 23, 2012|By Jack M Silverstein, @readjack | For RedEye

Mama said there'd be days like this. Days where the defensive line's relentless pursuit wins more battles than the uber-athleticism of the receiving corps. Days where the game-controlling freaks are Peppers and Idonije, not Marshall and Jeffery. Days where you win by double figures because you held the opponent without a touchdown, not because your offense scored five.

The Bears dusted off their run-stuffing, quarterback-pasting franchise identity during their 23-6 win over the St. Louis Rams, grinding St. Looie quarterback Sam Bradford into the ground like a cigarette on the sidewalk. Israel Idonije—boom! Julius Peppers—whap! Stephen Paea—thump! Shea McClellin—whoosh! Five of the Bears' six sacks came from the defensive line, giving the Bears defense 14 over three games.

The other sack belonged to linebacker Nick Roach, who played stout, punishing football, as did his linebacker mates Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs.

In the secondary, cornerback Tim Jennings became the first Bear since Lemuel Stinson in 1990 to intercept passes in each of the team's first three games, while earlier in the quarter it was Jennings who tipped a pass into the hands of safety Major Wright, who returned the pick 45 yards for his second career touchdown.

That play was this defense at its best. For all the talk about how the Bears offensive weapons will open the field for each other, it was the D that shone Sunday, all the pieces working together to create a devastating whole. First, defensive tackle Paea forced Bradford into a hurried throw toward receiver Danny Amendola. Then Jennings tipped the ball, Wright made the catch, and Briggs laid the wood on Amendola, who fell to the turf as Wright raced away.

The downside here is that the Bears were as superior to the Rams as the Packers were to the Bears, and that Jay Cutler (while nowhere near last week's abysmal performance) still performed far below expectations.

No matter. While the offense continues to work out its kinks, the defense continues to work. If you can't appreciate that, you're in the wrong city.

Special contributor Jack M Silverstein covers the Bears for RedEye. Say hey @ReadJack.

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