The Chicago Bears are 2-3 after Sunday's 18-17 comeback victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.
It was an impressive victory on the road against a Chiefs team that made the playoffs last year. In addition, the Chiefs were relatively healthy and held out just two players for the game, while also losing RB Jamaal Charles in the third quarter.
Beyond that, the Chiefs rolled out the best lineup they had.
On the flipside, the Bears had 16 players listed on the injury report heading into the game, which included starting receivers Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal, and left tackle Jermon Bushrod. In addition, the club placed starting center Will Montgomery on season-ending IR this week. That forced the Bears to start third-round rookie Hroniss Grasu, who wasn't even active the first four weeks of the regular season.
On top of that, the Bears lost ILB Shea McClellin, the brains of the defense, with a knee injury in the second half. McClellin was replaced by LaRoy Reynolds, who was signed off the street two weeks ago.
Yet this team hung together, overcoming a 17-3 halftime deficit and 17-6 deficit heading into the fourth quarter, and rallied behind QB Jay Cutler and the defense for their second win in a row.
"It gives us some confidence," Cutler said after the game. "If we lose the Oakland game or lose this game, it’s just another L. We can’t build off that."
This type of victory, one built on superior heart and not superior talent, would have never happened the past two years. That says a lot about John Fox and his coaching staff, who have instilled a level of toughness and never-ending fight not witnessed in Chicago since Brian Urlacher last strapped on his helmet.
That's a great sign for this team going forward. Very few NFL teams can win games when half the starting lineup consists of backups, yet the Bears were able to do that in a hostile environment, in a game the Chiefs were favored by nine points.
This is not the most talented team in the league and GM Ryan Pace has a lot of work left to do but these are the types of victories that can turn a franchise around. The Bears were the embarassment of the NFL last year, one in which players, particularly the veterans, showed no heart and rolled over on a weekly basis.
With Fox in charge - and albatrosses like Lance Briggs, Brandon Marshall and Julius Peppers in the rearview - those days are long gone. This is a real NFL team, one with smart coaches and players who have bought into the system.
The Bears next week face a winless Detroit Lions team and could be 3-3 through six games. When you consider only two of their remaining opponents have a winning record, it's far too early to call this a lost season, especially if guys start getting healthy. That includes first-round receiver Kevin White, who can begin practicing with the team in two weeks.
Under Fox, the Monsters of the Midway won't get worse. They're only going to get better, which should make every Bears fan excited about the direction of this team and their long-term potential.