Bears finally upbeat

One thing was remotely different in the Bears locker room late Sunday.

Players were smiling and coaches seemed relieved. It wasn't like they won the Super Bowl, but the Bears beat the same team that played in it in January.

The 24-21 come-from-behind victory over Oakland at Soldier Field was huge. The Bears finally got in the victory column and got their running game going, which in turn helped the passing game late in the game.

Chicago is still just 1-3, but the monkey was off a few backs late Sunday afternoon.

"It was great to win," Bears coach Dick Jauron said Tuesday. "Obviously, (it was) two different halves. The first half was very poor, clearly. You know we came out in the second half and pulled it together, and once we got it together I thought the fans ended up playing a huge factor in the football game. They really lifted us at the end and we were (tired) guys. They had spent themselves."

Jauron still hasn't saved his job, but the Bears made huge strides in key areas against a Raiders team that seems to have gone from one of the league's best to one of its worst.

Anthony Thomas rushed for a game-high 123 yards on 22 carries (5.6 avg.) and helped the offense click during crucial stretches in the decisive fourth quarter, when the Bears rallied for 18 points and scored on three of their last four possessions. Thomas' second straight 100-plus yard game helped Kordell Stewart and the passing game. Thomas' ability to run the ball effectively ignited Marty Booker to have his best game of the season, as did Stewart.

Booker had four catches for 94 yards and a touchdown, Stewart seemed poised in guiding the offense in crunch time and the defense made big plays (two interceptions and a blocked field goal) to keep the team alive despite being down 15 points at halftime.

"We didn't get down on ourselves when things went wrong. It was like, 'OK, let's line up and play the next snap,' " defensive end Phillip Daniels said. "That's what we've got to continue to do. I think we did that (Sunday). I think we showed we're a much better defense than the one that's played (before). I thought we got a nice pass rush and stopped the run when we had to."

Oakland's Charlie Garner carried the ball nine times for 77 yards in the first half but the Raider generated just 15 yards rushing in the second half.

While there were plenty of positives, one huge negative was the 11 penalties for 97 yards. Every starting offensive linemen was flagged, and the Bears were whistled for six holding calls.

Those penalties killed drives in the red zone and pushed the Bears out of field goal range twice.

On the injury side, defensive tackle Keith Traylor (knee), who didn't play, is out a minimum of four weeks. Linebacker Warrick Holdman (sprained ankle) will have an MRI today and Booker (bruised ribs) will be re-evaluated, as well.

If Holdman's can't play at New Orleans Sunday, Jauron said Bryan Knight could be back in the starting lineup alongside rookie Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher. Joe Odom, who initially replaced Holdman Sunday, is the more likely option at weakside linebacker.


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