Quick take: Panthers 20, Bears 17

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
We're generally not a big fan of moral victories. And sure enough, when the Bears wake up Monday morning, they'll have a "1" in the all-important loss column following a 20-17 defeat to the Panthers.

But the Bears have shown us something in the first two weeks of the season. After dispatching Indianapolis on opening night, they held a 14-point lead midway through the third quarter in the home stadium of what appears to be one of the NFC's stronger teams.

The Bears wilted under a 100-degree heat index and finished the game without receiver/kick returner Devin Hester, who suffered a rib injury. You don't want to give up a second-half lead in that manner, but those circumstances are real and meaningful.

More important, in the big picture the Bears seem to have demonstrated they will be more competitive this season than their preseason indicated. Consider this one, Bears fans: If you knew your team would split the games of their season-opening road trip -- with a real chance to have gone 2-0 -- wouldn't you have been (pleasantly) surprised?