Bears do everything right

SportsFootballChicago BearsDeathNathan VasherMuhsin MuhammadOlin Kreutz

The Bears' rallying cry began early last week, and its overly optimistic nature could have made some eyes roll and screamed of justification for a poor opening performance.

Beat Detroit and first place in the victory-challenged NFC North is there.

Instead of panicking after that poor opening performance, the Bears produced, thoroughly dominating the Lions 38-6 in a sun-splashed home opener before 62,019 at Soldier Field.

Scoring on offense, defense and special teams in a game that coach Lovie Smith called the most complete of his short tenure, the Bears rectified practically all of their mistakes from the Washington game and rattled a bickering divisional opponent with whom they now share first place.

And the best part? They aren't impressed.

"It's one game," center Olin Kreutz said. "We're excited about the way we played, but we made mistakes too. We can and will get better."

Brian Urlacher, who added two sacks to a dominant defensive performance that featured five interceptions, got downright greedy.

"We should've had another touchdown on defense," he said, failing to suppress a grin.

Safety Mike Brown provided the defensive score, running back an interception of a Joey Harrington pass 41 yards for his franchise-record sixth defensive touchdown. The play, aided by pressure from a blitzing Chris Harris, capped a 21-point second quarter and came 17 seconds after Kyle Orton found Muhsin Muhammad with a 28-yard scoring strike.

The 31 first-half points tied the second most scored in a half in franchise history, last accomplished against Washington on Sept. 29, 1985. The Bears hadn't scored 38 points since putting up 47 to beat Tampa Bay on Sept. 26, 1993.

"We knew we could play a lot better than we did," Smith said. "We have a lot of pride and character. And whenever you don't play well, you can't wait to get back and do something about it. We quit talking. We went out to the practice field and did something about it."

The dominance started early.

On Detroit's opening possession, defensive tackle Ian Scott grabbed the pass he blocked off the back of center Dominic Raiola, setting up the Bears on the Detroit 43 with his first career interception.

Orton found Muhammad on the Bears' first two plays from scrimmage, establishing a connection that worked six times for 81 yards. And Thomas Jones did the rest, rushing five straight times for 34 yards and scoring the first of his two touchdowns on a 3-yard run on which he outraced safety Kenoy Kennedy to the pylon.

A week ago, the offensive line drew criticism for committing three straight false-start penalties to kill a critical fourth-quarter drive against Washington and blocking for a rushing game that managed just 41 yards.

Sunday, Jones gained 139 of the Bears' 187 rushing yards against a strong run defense, redeeming the offensive line in full.

"They did such a great job of getting off the ball," Jones said. "Detroit has good players up front, but we handled them."

Detroit, in its lone highlight, marched right back. On the first play after a 41-yard kickoff return by Eddie Drummond, Roy Williams beat Charles Tillman on an out pattern and scored on a 51-yard pass play as Harris was late to provide help.

But Alfonso Boone blocked Remy Hamilton's point-after attempt, preserving the lead. It grew quickly.

The Bears scored on their second possession, too, getting a 48-yard field goal from Doug Brien.

Then Bobby Wade, inactive last week, broke a 73-yard punt return with a nice block from Justin Gage to make it 17-6 early in the second quarter.

Nathan Vasher killed a lengthy Detroit drive with the first of his two interceptions, kneeling in the end zone after a miscommunication between Harrington and Williams.

That's when Orton went to work. He directed a seven-play, 80-yard drive that featured a 23-yard gain to Muhammad and a third-down conversion on a screen pass to Jones. Orton finished 14-for-21 for 150 yards and no turnovers.

"I thought he was in control of the game, managed it well," Smith said. "He led us. He made the right reads and made good throws. He did what quarterbacks are supposed to do."

And Muhammad did what $30 million wideouts are supposed to do, beating Fernando Bryant on a post pattern and absorbing a huge hit from Kennedy to secure Orton's first career touchdown pass.

"I expect to make those catches," Muhammad said. "Last week I got pinballed, hit this way and that way and lost the ball on an important drive. I was upset because I want to make those plays for Kyle. I made up for it."

What didn't the Bears atone for from the Washington game?

They held Detroit to 29 rushing yards, cut down their penalties, won the turnover battle 5-0 and rushed the ball efficiently.

"It was a total team effort," Orton said.

"All phases of the game played well. It's tough to win at this level of competition. Normally, you don't win this big. It was real fun, but we just have to get back to work."

For the first time since the 1940s, the Bears wore their white jerseys at home. They wanted to avoid their navy jerseys in an attempt to offset the upper-70s temperatures.

Who knew the Bears would be so scorching hot?

kcjohnson@tribune.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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SportsFootballChicago BearsDeathNathan VasherMuhsin MuhammadOlin Kreutz
  • Chris Landry
    Chris Landry

    Chris Landry is a veteran NFL scout. .

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