Bears Outlast Ravens

Chicago – In a game billed as two of the top defenses squaring off at Soldier Field, the Bears proved to have more in the tank than the Ravens.

The Bears led the Baltimore Ravens 10-6 throughout the fourth quarter and part of the third quarter Sunday in the cold and rain at Soldier Field. Two weeks earlier they led by the same score throughout much of the second half, and then met with last-minute disaster in a 20-10 loss to the Browns.

There was nothing like that against the Ravens. By holding onto a 10-6 lead for their second straight win, the Bears maintained a share of first place with the Detroit Lions at 3-3 in the NFC North heading into a showdown next week at Ford Field.

"A big win for us. This is the position we want to be in, going up to Detroit in first place," Bears coach Lovie Smith said.

Being in first after showing the ability to finish a game could be even more important.

On Sunday, Orton directed a ball-control offense late in the game and running back Thomas Jones sealed the win with 12 fourth-quarter carries and 83 of his 139 yards.

"It's just a matter of who could play for 60 minutes and execute in crunch time and that's what we were able to do," Jones said.

"That's the way to run a four-minute offense, right there," added Orton.

The defense rose to the occasion with three fourth-quarter sacks of quarterback Anthony Wright. Baltimore never got beyond the Bears' 44-yard line in the fourth quarter.

"Next question," Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher blurted when reminded by questioners that the defense had collapsed in the closing minutes against the Browns.

The Bears pounded the ball at Baltimore's defense after taking possession with 2:53 left in the game following Tank Johnson's second fourth-quarter sack of Wright.

Jones broke off a 42-yard run on the first play from the Bears' 19 after they had knocked Ravens standout linebacker Ray Lewis out of the game with a thigh injury. A fourth-and-one vault for a yard by Jones into the center of the Ravens' line with 1:13 left let the Bears get in what Orton called their "victory offense," to kill off the final seconds of the clock by downing the ball.

"We're feeling really excited right now," Orton said, after going 15-of-29 for 145 yards a touchdown without an interception against the NFL's third-ranked pass defense. "This was a huge game for us. These were two evenly matched teams, two teams built exactly the same, almost. And it was going to be whoever executed and who played the best and we did it in tough conditions, with rain coming down."

Orton had help from both Jones and the penalty-plagued Ravens, who had committed a team-record 21 infractions two weeks earlier. Baltimore got called for roughing the passer and also for a key third-down defensive holding penalty on the game's first scoring drive.

The Bears went 78 yards in eight plays to score all the points they needed. Orton threw a bootleg pass to fullback Marc Edwards, who was all alone for a 9-yard TD with 25 seconds left in the second quarter

"That's something when you run the ball those things are going to open up," offensive coordinator Ron Turner said of the bootleg pass. "I think in the first three games, I don't think we ran it one time.

"We had it planned every week and we kept saying keep practicing this, but when are we going to call it? And then the last couple weeks we finally had gotten it called. Kyle is doing a good job with it."

Baltimore had only one first down in the first quarter but began working underneath routes to the tight end in the second quarter and Todd Heap had five catches for 55 yards by halftime. But the Ravens could get only two field goals from Matt Stover of 40 and 29 yards in the second quarter.

The Ravens had only one trip inside the red zone against the league's top red zone defense, and that resulted in Stover's 29-yard kick with 30 seconds left in the first half.

In the third quarter, the Ravens' knack for penalties proved their undoing again as Terrell Suggs got flagged for roughing Orton on a third-and-eight incompletion. The play made possible a 40-yard drive to Robbie Gould's 23-yard field goal with 2:56 left in the half.

"Turnovers and penalties -- when made at the wrong time -- will stop any drive or continue any drive," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.

The 11 penalties for 100 yards weren't what Billick blamed the loss on, however. He cited the Bears' run defense for stopping Jamal Lewis. The Ravens' running back was a complete non-factor with 34 yards on 15 carries. Baltimore had 66 yards on 22 carries, including 11 yards and five carries from Wright on scrambles.

"We have to be able to run the ball to be good -- there's no two ways about that," Billick said. "The most disappointing thing was our inability to sustain running the ball."

It's become a strength of the Bears' defense after a shaky start against Washington. They've held five straight opponents to 83 yards or less.

"I'd love to play every Sunday the way we did today," Urlacher said. "Our team defense doesn't have to produce takeaways or big plays, just solid defense, getting in gaps and defending when we have to."

The emphasis in this one was on "when we have to." The Bears have gone eight quarters since the disaster in Cleveland without allowing a touchdown. They still haven't allowed a rushing touchdown this year.

"It's been a while since we've been 3-3," Smith said. "The next game means quite a bit."

Without showing an ability to close out games, it couldn't have meant quite as much.

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