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posted: 10/7/2012 7:26 PM

Jaguars fall right into a Bear trap

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  • Bears head coach Lovie Smith watches play during the second half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012, in Jacksonville, Fla. Chicago won 41-3.

      Bears head coach Lovie Smith watches play during the second half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012, in Jacksonville, Fla. Chicago won 41-3.
    Associated Press

  • Bears receiver Brandon Marshall points to Bears fans as he comes off the field after defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars 41-3 in an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012, in Jacksonville, Fla.

      Bears receiver Brandon Marshall points to Bears fans as he comes off the field after defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars 41-3 in an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012, in Jacksonville, Fla.
    Associated Press

 
 

Now that's what you call a quality NFL victory.

Seriously.

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Aesthetics aside, the Bears had more excuses than the Jaguars had fans in the stands Sunday, if the visitors had wanted to find a reason to give away a game.

They could have used the extreme heat to justify their lackluster play in the first half.

They could have explained it away with the short week after playing a road game on Monday night.

They could have said they just didn't take the Jaguars seriously, considering their opponent came in with the worst offense in the NFL, the 20th ranked quarterback and the 24th ranked defense giving up 25 points a game with no sacks the last three games.

No wonder Jacksonville was 1-3.

Well, now the Jaguars are 1-4 after the Bears showed up in the second half to pound out a 41-3 victory.

The Bears could have found trouble, but instead they came out to begin the second half in a 3-3 game and held the ball for 17 plays and took 9:08 off the clock with 3 third-down conversions -- and a fourth-down gamble -- for a field goal to take the lead.

Predictably, on the next play with time getting short in the third quarter, Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert panicked on first-and-20 from deep in his own end and threw a pass 10 yards short of his receiver and right into the hands of Charles Tillman, who strolled into the end zone for a 13-3 Bears lead.

And that was your football game.

After Tillman's pick-6, the rest of the game deteriorated into a typical performance from a bad Jacksonville team trailing by a couple scores, complete with interceptions, dropped passes, penalties, sacks and punts.

The Bears' offense finally kicked it into gear and Jacksonville quit in the fourth quarter as the Bears poured it on.

Lost amid the 31 points in a span of 12:48 of the second half -- and 14 points from the defense -- was the biggest play of the game for the Bears, which came at the end of the first half when Jacksonville marched from its own 22 down to the Bears' 20.

The Bears were playing uninspired and the Jaguars were making it a game, prepared to take the lead and a whole bunch of confidence into halftime before a Corey Wootton sack-fumble ensured a 3-3 contest after 30 minutes.

Without that play, the second half may have looked considerably different. Then again, it is still Jacksonville we're talking about.

As for the offense, Jay Cutler's first pass of day was picked and it took him three quarters to get into a good rhythm, but with Brandon Marshall catching 12 passes for 144 yards -- much of that in traffic -- the offense managed enough production when the game was in doubt while the defense took control, and thus the Bears will be crowing like Super Bowl champs heading into the bye week.

Making the victory even bigger, the Bears (4-1) still sit atop the NFC North with the Vikings (4-1), while the Packers (2-3) lost in the final minute in Indianapolis and had several key players carted off the field.

The Bears, on the other hand, survived a trap game on the road and now have more than two weeks to rest before they get Detroit at home on a Monday night.

So while it's easy to complain about the Bears' slow start and denigrate a lopsided win against an awful team Sunday, they played hard for a half and got the one thing that mattered.

They got the victory.

brozner@dailyherald.com

•Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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