By Bob Warja
This was a game of importance for both teams, as the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles are fighting for their playoff lives, and both stood at 7-3 entering the game. Plus, the game had other interesting side issues, including the play of Michael Vick and the Bears defense. It certainly was no accident that the game's starting time was moved to 3:15 Central (it originally was scheduled for a noon kickoff).

The final score was Bears 31, Eagles 26. With the Packers loss earlier in the day, the Bears now sit alone atop the NFC North at 8-3.  They scored a season-high 31 points, and Jay Cutler had a terrific day, ending up with a 146.2 QB rating on four TDs and zero interceptions.

Almost every other win this season has been blamed on factors other than the Bears simply beating the other team. Against Detroit, it was the catch in the end zone, Minnesota gave up on their coach, Miami was banged up and so on.

But no excuses today. The Bears beat a legitimate contender in Mike Vick and the Eagles on Sunday, and now the masses had better recognize the Bears as a legit contender in the NFC.

Let's take a look at the victory and examine how things went down on Sunday.

Special Teams Battle

CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 28: Devin Hester #23 of the Chicago Bears breaks a first down run of 39 yards after a catch against the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field on November 28, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Special teams is supposed to be where the Bears excel, but someone forgot to tell the Eagles. Devin Hester gets the attention, and deservedly so, but the Eagles have a fine return man of their own in DeSean Jackson. Jackson helped to put the first three points of the game on the board with a 35-yard punt return early in the game.

A stupid penalty by Corey Graham allowed the Eagles an extra 15 yards in the second quarter on a punt return. Two sacks by Cole in the second quarter resulted in excellent field position for the Eagles, as well.

Danieal Manning and Hester combined for 146 kick-return yards, though a penalty by Nick Roach negated a 52-yard return by Manning in the fourth quarter, or those numbers would have looked even more impressive. On punts, Hester was limited to nine yards on one touch.

Jorrick Calvin averaged 24.2 yards on six kick returns for the Eagles.

Running Is Matt's Forte, Chester Taylor Not So Much

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 07:  Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears runs against the Buffalo Bills  at Rogers Centre on November 7, 2010 in Toronto, Canada. Chicago won 22-19.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Forte's 61-yard dash in the first quarter led to the Bears' first touchdown and an early 7-3 lead. It was the longest run against the Eagles all season.

Forte added a 28-yard run in the third quarter for a total of 117 yards on 14 carries. He also caught two passes for 22 yards.

The Bears should have had another TD late in the third quarter on a long drive in which the Bears inexplicably tried running an ineffective Chester Taylor twice up the middle and ended up having to settle for a field goal.

Since seven strong runs against Seattle and Washington resulted in 51 yards in Weeks 6 and 7, Taylor has been nonexistent. Following the bye week, Taylor has rushed a total of 34 times for just 56 yards. He and Brandon Manumaleuna have not been effective free-agent signings thus far.

Defensive Pressure

CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 28: Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles fumbles the ball as he is sacked by Julius Peppers #90 of the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on November 28, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
In the first half, Matt Toeaina got his first career sack, Idonije and Melton shared one and Julius Peppers took Vick to the ground. Peppers has sacked Vick more than any other player in his career.

Meanwhile, Philly matched the Bears' four sacks with four of their own against Cutler. But the Bears pressure contained Vick and limited his view of the field when passing by getting their hands up and either tipping passes or making him move outside his comfort zone.

Good Cutler, Bad Cutler

This season has certainly been up and down for Jay Cutler. But today, "good" Cutler showed up.

Cutler hit three of his first four passes for 69 yards and two TDs. Vick also hit three of four passes, but without the same impact. Meanwhile, Cutler spread the ball around early, hitting Hester, Knox and Bennett.
Hester's 39-yard reception early was the longest gain of the season for the wide receiver.

Culter ended up with a 146.2 passer rating with four touchdowns and no interceptions.

Vick's First INT Changes Game's Momentum

CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 28: Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles tries to avoid a rush by the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on November 28, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
One minute, the Eagles are about to go in and score a TD, the next minute it's the Bears scoring on a pass by Cutler to Bennett. Momentum changer? You bet.

The first interception of the season thrown by Vick was picked by Chris Harris off a tip by Tommie Harris. You remember him, Bears fans, don't you? All of a sudden, it's a 21-13 lead heading into halftime.

While Vick and the Eagles made an impressive comeback late in the game, this was a momentum shifter.


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