ST. LOUIS — The Bears have constantly talked about their need to play a “complete” football game. They have talked about “playoffs” in more than clichés, and they really didn’t care if people thought they were windbags or whistling past their own graveyard.
But if the 1-7 Detroit Lions can do unthinkable things to the Green Bay Packers, in Green Bay, and the Kansas City Chiefs, whom the Bears defeated in Kansas City, can hold Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos to 40 yards and zero points, in Denver ...
But Denver and Green Bay are down the road. In the meantime, with Sunday’s 37-13 dismantling of the St. Louis Rams — the Bears' third road win this season — the Bears stepped up to 4-5, which includes a 4-2 mark since the season-opening stretch of Green Bay-Arizona-Seattle.
A 4-5 record doesn’t win anything. Neither does winning four of your last six. But as far as they’re concerned, if you want to dismiss the Bears as afterthoughts in John Fox’s first year:
“I’m telling you, man,” defensive end Jarvis Jenkins said. “We’re going to stay the course, and it’s going to happen for us.”
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It was without question the Bears’ most complete all-around game, the more remarkable because they were rocked backwards defensively on the first series of the game — an 80-yard drive for a St. Louis touchdown — and then slammed down hard on a team that was touted as one of the NFL’s elite defenses and possessed one of the NFL’s next great running backs.
Jay Cutler had arguably his finest game as an NFL quarterback. Rookie running back Jeremy Langford followed his 142-yard game at San Diego with 182 against the Rams, again following the Matt Forte template of all-around’ness: 73 rushing yards, 109 receiving, with 83 of the latter on a screen pass catch-and-run for a touchdown in the second quarter. Zach Miller followed his game-winning touchdown catch last week with a two more touchdown catches, one off a swing pass and covering 87 yards.
The “next Adrian Peterson” — Todd Gurley — finished with 45 rushing yards. After three quarters the Rams had exactly eight first downs.
After the St. Louis touchdown, the Bears trampled the Rams, 37-6. The Bears allowed no touchdowns and just two field goals the rest of the game and only 205 more yards over the final 57 minutes. Special teams got over some early problems, including a Marc Mariani lost fumble inside the Chicago 20, while allowing St. Louis return terror Tavon Austin a total of 16 yards on three punt returns, roughly half his 10.1-yard average.
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“I think our football team’s growing,” was about as much as coach John Fox would allow, which is never very much in the NFL, certainly not after nine games.
But to pull the camera back for purposes of perspective: The Bears accomplished Sunday’s mauling without their best offensive player (Matt Forte) and best defensive player (Pernell McPhee), both back in Chicago with knee injuries.
As far as surprising people, which the Bears have done, again: “We don’t even really talk about it that much, to be honest with you,” Cutler said. “I think we do a good job of blocking the noise on the outside and concentrate on day in, day out.
“I don’t think this team believes it’s arrived, by any means.”
And that sort of attitude makes them dangerous.