The Bears step down in competition Sunday, but not down in importance. “To be able to finish it like we did gave our guys confidence and validated what we’re doing,” coach Lovie Smith said of last week’s come-from-behind 17-14 win over the Super Bowl champion Steelers, “but it’s just a start. We need to get a streak going.”
The Bears step down in competition Sunday, but not down in importance.
“To be able to finish it like we did gave our guys confidence and validated what we’re doing,” coach Lovie Smith said of last week’s come-from-behind 17-14 win over the Super Bowl champion Steelers, “but it’s just a start. We need to get a streak going.”
The Bears posted winning streaks of 8, 7, 6, 4 and 4 games in their only three playoff seasons since 1996. In the other nine years, they topped out with a pair of three-game streaks.
The Bears (1-1) are also 2-9 in their last 11 road games heading into Sunday’s 3:05 p.m. game at Seattle (1-1).
“Good football teams win on the road,” Smith said. “We need to go up there and build on what we started last week.”
In particular, Chicago would like to get its No. 31-ranked running game started. It would help if the Bears scored first; they have seven first-half points in two games.
“It’s not easy to try to smash the ball in there every time when you are behind,” said running back Matt Forte, last in the NFL with an average of 2.2 yards on his 38 runs.
The Bears need Forte in particular this week because Seattle is expected to give Jay Cutler more time to throw than Pittsburgh or Green Bay allowed, but less room to dump off short passes.
“The Seahawks don’t pressure nearly as much as the 3-4 (defensive) teams, so we’re looking to get down the field more,” backup tight end Kellen Davis said. “We’re going to hit them in the running game and then try to get vertical.”
The running game destroyed Seattle last week, when San Francisco’s Frank Gore broke off touchdown runs of 79 and 80 yards.
“It just takes one play where you get a guy out of position and you break a long one with just one move or one broken tackle,” Forte said.
The Bears hope this is the week for that one play for Forte.
“We’re not sobbing or anything, but we want him to be successful,” left guard Frank Omiyale said.
The Bears, though, don’t seem determined to force-feed anyone the ball. Rookie Johnny Knox unexpectedly leads the Bears with 152 yards receiving and Earl Bennett leads with nine catches after having zero receptions last year.
“Pittsburgh was intent on stopping Devin Hester; they were playing two men on him in zone,” offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. “The week before that, it looked like the Packers wanted to stop Greg Olsen. If they zero in on one guy to stop, somebody else is going to be there. That’s the beauty of our system.”
Seattle needs a lot of somebody elses. The Seahawks have 13 players listed on their injury report and Seneca Wallace, with 12 career starts, is expected to replace Matt Hasselbeck (fractured rib) at quarterback.
“Sen brings things to the table that Matt doesn’t have,” Seattle receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh said on a teleconference. “He can move around. He’s very athletic. If he’s in there, we all have to rally around him. And Sen has to give me the rock.”
Matt Trowbridge can be reached at (815) 987-1383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keys for a Bears win
_Convert on third down. The Bears ran equally poorly with Matt Forte averaging 2.2 yards both weeks, but beat the Steelers when they converted 7 of 14 third downs and lost to the Packers when they converted 4 of 15.
_Don’t concede short passes to Seattle: “Their offense means running the ball and a lot of quick passes,” Bears cornerback Zack Bowman said. Seneca Wallace averaged only 6.3 yards per pass last year. If he replaces Matt Hasselbeck (ribs), the Seahawks will want to throw short more than ever. Take it away.
_Stay patient. As long as Chicago’s defense maintains its No. 5 NFL ranking, QB Jay Cutler doesn’t need to force anything. “It makes it a lot easier to win when 17 points can win a ballgame,” Cutler said. “A few good drives here and there give us a chance to win at the end. It’s a different mindset. You don’t have to force things. Three-and-out isn’t going to kill you.”