Hello sports fans, Carlos her with the Windy City Sports Report for this week. In this edition, how did the Bulls end their preseason? What happened to the Bears? Are the Blackhawks and the NHL ready to take off?
The Bulls wrapped up their preseason last week with two games. First up, they faced the Oklahoma City Thunder (without Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook). Carlos Boozer led the Bulls with 24 points 12 rebounds and 5 assists in a 94-89 victory. Luol Deng pitched in 21 points and Joakim Noah had 15 points and 10 rebounds.
On Friday, the Bulls traveled to South Bend, IN to face the Indiana Pacers. There was a plethora of Bulls fans in the stadium, seeing as most of South Bend’s population, Notre Dame students, made a trip to Oklahoma for the ND-OK game.
The Bulls beat the Pacers 97-90, in a game they never led. Nate Robinson, starting in place of Kirk Hinrich (strained groin), had 21 points and dished 8 assists. Deng had 17 points and Taj Gibson had 9 points and 11 rebounds.
The Bulls finished the preseason with a 5-2 record, best in the Central Division. Yes, I know it is only the preseason, but beating the Pacers and finishing with the best record in the division sends a message to the Pacers, Bucks, Pistons, and Cavaliers that the Bulls will not let go of their division title without a fight. As long as Thibodeau waves his defensive wand, the Bulls have a good shot at winning.
The season starts on Wednesday at home against the Sacramento Kings. They also go to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers and are at home on Saturday against the New Orleans Hornets.
The Bears had two games this week. On Monday, they went on national television and beat down the Detroit Lions 13-7. The score was not indicative of how much the Bears dominated the Lions. It was a shutout until late in the 4th quarter.
Matthew Stafford was hunted and harassed all night long. He was sacked three times and had a pass intercepted. The Bears defense rose again. They had two great goal-line stands in which they did not just keep the Lions out of the end zone, but also came away with turnovers.
Charles Tillman was assigned the task of covering Calvin “Megatron” Johnson Jr. and he was up to the challenge. He was all over Megatron and turned him into “Minitron.” Johnson only had 3 catches for 34 yards and no touchdowns. Tillman did such a great job on Johnson that he was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week, even though he did not have an interception.
On Sunday, the Bears faced the 1-5 Carolina Panthers. This appeared to be a trap game for the 5-1 Bears, and it turned out to be one. The offensive line struggled in the first half, allowing 6 sacks. Cutler was running for his life in the first half and had three turnovers. He threw an interception (only his second since the Packers game) and lost two fumbles. At the end of the first half, the fans were booing the division-leading Bears. Asked about the boos after the game, Cutler said “I’d boo us, too. I told those guys it was a boo-worthy performance, if you will.”
Cam Newton was moving his offense up and down the field on the Bears’ vaulted defense. He ended up throwing for 314 yards, but the Bears kept him out of the end zone. On one of his runs he dove for the score and Major Wright got his helmet to the ball and forced a fumble. The ball bounced into another Panthers’ hands and that was their only touchdown for the day. Cam also threw two interceptions.
The struggle continued early in the second half. The line got better and did not allow a sack in the second half, but the offense still struggled to get going. By the mid-fourth quarter the Bears found themselves down 19-7. It seemed that it just was not their day when normally sure-footed Robbie Gould missed a 33-yard field goal. Then the magic came back.
Carolina’s punter, Brad Nortman, hit the ball off the side of his foot and it traveled only 6 yards. The Bears took over and culminated the drive with a laser beam throw to Kellen Davis in-between two Carolina defenders.
On the first play for Carolina after the touchdown, Cam threw the ball to Steve Smith. Smith slipped on the grass and the only one there to catch the pass was Tim Jennings, who took it in for a pick-6. In the span of 8 seconds the Bears scored 13 points.
Cam came back and led the Panthers on an 11-play, 53 yard drive that took up 4:17. It ended with a Justin Medlock (5-5 in field goals) 45 yard field goal. It left Cutler and the Bears with a 22-20 deficit and 2:20 left to change it.
Cutler got up and took the Bears 55 yards to set up a Robbie Gould 44-yard game-winning field goal. The crazy Soldier Field wind that was blowing when Gould missed his previous kick disappeared long enough to let Gould get his game winner in. Perhaps it was Walter Payton calming the winds?
For all the talk about Cutler not being a real leader for the Bears, Cutler was exactly what you want in a leader. In the 4th quarter he went 12-14 for 146 yards and a touchdown. To give you an idea how bad his game was BEFORE that, he finished 19-28 for 186 yards, 0 touchdowns and an interception. I will let you do the math.
Brandon Marshall talked about how great it was to have Cutler leading the team. “Cutler gets up smiling. I’m sitting here shaking-a little bit of the cold weather, a little bit of (being) nervous-and he just starts smiling like, `Well, here we go.’ It just put me at ease right away. The guys feel that vibe and they play off of it.”
The win gave the Bears a 6-1 record, 1 ½ games ahead of the Minnesota Vikings and the hated Green Bay Packers. On Sunday, they travel to Tennessee to face the Titans. Let’s hope they got their trap game-playing out of their system and take care of business in their normal fashion.
In hockey, nope the Blackhawks and the NHL still are not playing. All games through November have been cancelled. The ice is melting on the NHL season.
Well that’s all sports fans. Until next week, let’s hope this week’s only spook comes from Halloween celebrations and not from the Bulls’ and Bears’ play.