Bears Inside Slant: `08 Turning Point?
DE Adewale Ogunleye (Jeff Gross/Getty)
DE Adewale Ogunleye (Jeff Gross/Getty)
Special to BearReport.com
Posted Sep 30, 2008


If the Chicago Bears can get on a roll and announce themselves as real contenders in the NFC, then that goal-line stand in the closing minutes against Philly will get even more attention than it is now. Seasons are made and broken on plays like that one. Get the Inside Slant from the NFL experts at Scout.com.

If the Bears wind up using Sunday's victory over the Eagles as the springboard to a successful season, the fourth-quarter goal-line stand would have to be the turning point in the campaign.

Some players have already proclaimed it.

"That goal-line stand is going to be a big boost for us the rest of the season," safety Mike Brown said. "We needed that. It was the fourth quarter. We're down to the nitty gritty."

By stopping the Eagles three times from the 1-yard line, the Bears hung on to a 24-20 lead and improved to 2-2 instead of dropping to 1-3 – a hole from which only about 16 percent of NFL teams have escaped since 1990 to land a playoff berth. Since 2002, only 13.3 percent of 1-3 teams have made it to the postseason.

Defensive tackle Israel Idonije, who filled in for injured Tommie Harris and had one sack along with four other tackles, said Bears defenders created a defining moment by refusing to budge with their backs against the wall and their feet in their own end zone. That moment escaped them the previous two games.

"We had that identity of being a defense that can make that play consistently," Idonije said. "It was just that those two games before that, we hadn't finished and we hadn't done that. To come in and say, 'All right, it starts today. Playing our style of defense starts today,' it was big."

Correll Buckhalter picked up 3 yards on first-and-goal from the Bears 4-yard line, but the Eagles couldn't travel the final, longest yard. Tony Hunt was stuffed by Kevin Payne and Mike Brown on second down. Buckhalter couldn't budge Adewale Ogunleye and Anthony Adams on third down. And on fourth down, the Eagles tailback was engulfed by Alex Brown and Lance Briggs with help from others, including Idonije and Ogunleye.

"For [Alex Brown] to make the play on fourth-and-inches, that means all the guys up front were able to be stout enough for him to come off the edge," Ogunleye said. "It's a game of inches, and I think you'll see on fourth down everybody was in exactly their gaps and everybody did exactly what they were supposed to do. And Alex was able to get there."


DT Israel Idonije
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Being in the right place was the topic of discussion on the Bears' huddles during the last stand.

"It was just, 'Do your job,'" Idonije said. "Your back's against the wall. You're right there inside the 1. It's just, 'Everybody do your job, and don't give in at all.' It was that kind of attack mentality and focus. When he snapped the ball you could just feel the tension on the line from our guys, and everybody just went all-out."

Nose tackle Dusty Dvoracek said the entire defensive unit got itself in the proper frame of mind.

"You've got to know there's no way they get in that damn end zone," he said. "And they didn't."

Dvoracek, who was in the middle of the action at the goal line, said he follows a simple process in that situation.

"Getting off the ball, lowering my head and driving my feet," Dvoracek said. "I said, 'They're not coming through my gap.'"

As it turned out, in that final sequence, there weren't any gaps in the Bears defense for the Eagles to get through.

Notes & Quotes
Rookie RB Matt Forte had his least productive rushing game of the season Sunday night. But when the game was on the line and the Bears needed a first down to run time off the clock with 2:43 remaining, they still went to their featured runner.

And Forte responded with a 10-yard gain on third-and-4 from the Bears 7-yard line.

"That's what we've seen from Matt. We expect that," head coach Lovie Smith said. "Our starting tailback needs to do that at the end. Most of the time when you're in those situations, you need to run the ball at the end. A defense will gang up on the run to stop it, so a lot of times it's going to come down to a running back just being able to run over somebody or make someone miss." …

It's been hinted, suggested and implied that Smith should consider shutting down the injured Harris until his left knee is healthy enough for him to contribute more than the two tackles he accumulated in the first three games.


DT Tommie Harris
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

But Smith bristled at the suggestion after last Friday's practice.

"I'd consider shutting him down if he isn't ready to go," Smith said. "If he is ready to go, we'll play him. That's the standard policy, always."

He obviously wasn't on Sunday night, so Harris missed just his fifth game in five years – including four in 2006 with a hamstring injury.

Idonije, who started in place of Harris, had a first-quarter sack of Donovan McNabb for a 9-yard loss and three solo tackles, and Adams was active for the first time this season but saw limited time. …

QB Kyle Orton doesn't quite resemble the maestro, Peyton Manning, yet, but he has been doing more orchestrating at the line of scrimmage than in the past.

"He's probably a little more confident, and that comes from getting reps," offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. "Each year we've been able to do a little more at the line, whether it's no-huddle or audibles or 'check-with-mes.' The longer we're in the system, the more we'll be able to do. It's just kind of the evolution of guys being in the same system, and he's a very bright player and he's handling it well."

Orton's 83.9 passer rating in Week 3 was his highest of the season and the sixth highest of his career. His first-half passer rating vs. the Eagles was 106.6, but he finished at just 75.5.

Quote to Note
"He threw a great ball and put it in a perfect spot. It was either going to be incomplete, or it was going to be a touchdown. Luckily, I was able to get it and keep my feet in bounds." – TE Greg Olsen on his first-quarter touchdown reception from QB Kyle Orton.

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