TORONTO -- The Chicago Bears' supposedly stout defense took somewhat of a thrashing in the club’s 22-19 triumph over the winless Buffalo Bills on Sunday, raising concerns about how the unit will perform in the coming weeks.
But let’s not lose sight of the fact it was the defense -- namely Chris Harris’ game-sealing interception, and a pick by Tim Jennings that allowed Chicago to take the lead -- that actually saved the Bears from losing their fourth game in five outings.
Before getting too deep into all of that, though, here’s our quick reaction to the game:
Body-language examination: Jay Cutler appeared to cough up the game in the fourth quarter, when Spencer Johnson dropped him for a 7-yard sack and fumble that Buffalo turned into a 19-14 lead with 10:27 left to play.
Cutler slammed his helmet to the ground in front of the bench after walking to the sideline after the play. But the quarterback immediately asked the coaches for printouts of pictures of the defense from that drive as he talked to backup quarterbacks Todd Collins and Caleb Hanie.
So instead of detaching from the contest, Cutler immersed himself, which allowed him to make up for the mistake two drives later.
Operating off a drive set up by a Tim Jennings interception with 9:03 left to play, Cutler drove the Bears 23 yards in six plays to take the lead at 20-19 on his 2-yard touchdown pass to Earl Bennett. Cutler tacked onto the lead by converting the two-point conversion on a shovel pass to Matt Forte.
Cutler has shown the propensity in the past to let mistakes affect him so drastically, it diminishes his impact in any potential comeback attempt. Cutler didn’t let that happen against the Bills, and the Bears benefitted.
Harris resurgence: Defensive tackle Tommie Harris says he’s been happier lately about the way he’s performing.
He’s finally showing it.
A seven-year veteran, Harris posted a sack for the first time since Dec. 13 of last season, when he dropped Ryan Fitzpatrick in the fourth quarter. After starting the first two games, Harris was inactive in Week 3, and his playing time had gradually decreased prior to the last two weeks.
Idonije blocks streak:Playing in his home country, Bears defensive end Israel Idonije blocked Rian Lindell’s extra point in the third quarter Sunday, snuffing out the kicker’s streak of consecutive PATs, which was the NFL's longest to start a career.
Lindell had connected on 321 consecutive extra points prior to Idonije’s block with 3:03 remaining in the third quarter.
Run-pass ratio improves: The Bears dominated time of possession in the first half 17:52 to 12:08 by finally delivering on their promise to insert more balance. The Bears weren’t exactly productive with the running game, considering they gained 44 yards on 15 attempts in the first half.
Still, the mix of runs with play-action passes kept Buffalo off balance, likely paving the way for Greg Olsen’s 4-yard touchdown pass from Cutler in the second quarter.
The Bears called runs on their first four plays from scrimmage, and finished the first quarter with a run-pass ratio of 9 to 16.
Major Wright sighting: Having missed five games because of a severely pulled hamstring, Wright saw his first action since Week 2 against the Bills, when he entered the contest with 12:06 left in the second quarter.
Wright replaced veteran Chris Harris for one 10-play series, but didn’t register any statistics. Wright didn’t return in the second half.
Blown shot: If there’s an opportunity, look for the Bears to find a way to blow it. The club demonstrated that in the second quarter when it squandered away a chance to take a 14-0 lead by committing three penalties in four plays from the red zone.
Just after the two-minute warning with Chicago holding possession at the Buffalo 14, right guard Roberto Garza committed a false-start penalty. On the very next play, Cutler was called for false start when Olin Kreutz failed to snap the ball in a timely manner, causing the officials to back up the Bears to the Bills' 24.
Three plays prior, officials called the Bears for an illegal shift.
Making matters worse was the fact that Robbie Gould -- the third-most accurate kicker in NFL history -- pushed his 42-yard field-goal attempt at the end of the drive wide right, forcing the Bears to walk away empty handed.
Buffalo tied the score on the ensuing drive with a 14-yard scoring strike from Fitzpatrick to Roscoe Parrish.