SEATTLE -- After another slow start and fast finish, this one by a 25-19 score over the Seahawks, the Bears are starting to look like the tortoises of the NFL.
Except they keep winning plays with the speed of a hare.
This time, it was Johnny Knox and Devin Hester taking short passes from Jay Cutler and running away from defenders for second-half touchdowns.
The Seahawks took a 13-0 lead in a disastrous first 18 minutes or so for the visitors. In that time, Robbie Gould missed a field goal, Cutler threw a high pass that Knox tipped to Seahawks linebacker David Hawthorne for a red-zone interception and the Bears were flagged four times.
Their offense was completely out of sync, in part because the fans at Qwest Field had the volume turned up somewhere between rock concert and jackhammer.
Asked about the slow start, Cutler said, "It's loud. This is a tough place to play. ... The crowd really gets into it, and the defense feeds off it."
The Bears were called for three false starts, all in the first half. Since 2005, visitors at Qwest Field have been called for false starts 85 times -- the most in the NFL.
"This crowd noise is the loudest in the NFL by far," Bears defensive end Adewale Ogunleye said. "Nowhere else is even close."
But once the Bears were immersed in the caldron for a while, they got used to the heat.
They got on the board on a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Greg Olsen from Cutler just after the two-minute warning before halftime.
They came out of the locker room after halftime looking like a different team. The Bears came up with two takeaways in less than seven minutes and subsequently scored 10 points.
"Our hats off to our defense for creating turnovers, holding them on key plays, holding them to field goals and bad field position," Olsen said. "They played really well."
On the first series of the third quarter, Charles Tillman stripped wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Ogunleye recovered on the Seahawks' 40-yard line. Danieal Manning was credited with the strip but said after the game that Tillman had forced the fumble.
Five plays later, Cutler threw a short pass to Knox, who swerved past one defender and then dove for the end zone pylon for a 7-yard touchdown.
A Lance Briggs interception then set up a 37-yard Gould field goal.
But the plucky Seahawks came back with two Olindo Mare field goals to take a 19-17 lead with 5:12 remaining in the game.
Cutler answered with his second fourth-quarter, game-winning drive in as many weeks.
This one was made easy by a nice grab of a short throw by Devin Hester, who left Seahawks defenders Travis Fisher and Deon Grant on the ground as he zipped into the end zone for a 36-yard touchdown.
"I pride myself in that," Cutler said of coming through in crunch time. "I want the ball in those situations.
"Fourth quarters we have to play our best, and I think we are right now."
The Seahawks fought until the end, finally running out of gas on an incomplete pass on fourth-and-2 at the Bears' 29 with 26 seconds left. And they still could have been in it if Mare had not missed field goals of 43 and 34 yards.
But the Bears clearly wore down a team that started the game missing eight injured starters, including quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, and finished the game with 10 out.
Seneca Wallace filled in nicely for Hasselbeck, using his mobility to avoid a fierce pass rush and to buy many second chances. He finished 26 of 44 for 261 yards.
Cutler finished with more impressive numbers -- 21 of 27 for 247 yards. His passer rating for the day was 126.4.
And the offense really was all about him, as it has been all season. The Bears had only 85 rushing yards on 28 carries.
"You have to take what they are giving you, and that's what we're going to do," Bears coach Lovie Smith said.
"There's nothing wrong with the pass. I'd like to be known as a running team that can pass the ball."
All things considered, the Bears might have made this one more difficult than it should have been. But then again, a win is a win.
"It's huge," said linebacker Nick Roach, who moved from the strong side to the middle after Hunter Hillenmeyer was injured.
"It's huge at any time, coming far away from home, being down at one point and then being able to be on top in the end. It's just huge."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times