Buffone's Reaction to the Action

It was great that the Bears won their fifth straight game and kept a two-game lead in the NFC North. However, the mistakes made against the 49ers would have cost the Bears a victory against almost any other team. A lot of things need to be ironed out before the Panthers come to town.

Bobby Wade muffed two punts and fumbled during two returns. The field position he gave San Francisco accounted for two of their three field goals. The other fumble led to the 52-yard field goal try that resulted in Nathan Vasher's record setting return.

There's no excuse for the way Wade played. No doubt the wind was brutal, but both teams played in the same conditions and you have to adjust to the situation.

I can't give Wade a pass. This is a professional game, not flag football in the park. Just because the wind blows, snow flies or rain comes there's still a game to be played.

Besides, two of his three fumbles were during the return not on the catch. Rashied Davis finished the game as the punt returner and it would be shocking if the Bears stuck with Wade again next week.

Against a good football club those mistakes would have cost the Bears a win. The effort of the defense and the running game would have been for not because of the problems in the punt return game.

Luckily the 49ers are far from a quality team, but to get ready for Carolina you have to eliminate the errors.

Even though Cody Pickett only completed one pass the entire game, the 49ers were within one possession of tying things up. I've never heard of a team completing just one pass.

Kyle Orton didn't have a great day, but he looked like a Pro Bowl QB compared to Pickett. Each quarterback only attempted 13 passes because of winds that got up to 47 miles per hour.

Patrick Mannelly is one of the best long snappers in the game, but even his snaps were taken by the wind. You could see the ball sail away from holder Brad Maynard, which led to a miss by Robbie Gould and an aborted attempt.

It's unfair to judge a quarterback in those conditions. I know I said Wade should have adjusted, but catching the ball is different than having your pass knocked down by the wind.

Orton made a poor decision when he tried to force the ball to Muhsin Muhammad in the end zone and it cost the Bears points. Again these types of mistakes have to be eliminated when you play the Panthers.

All of the sudden the Bears could be in a fight for home field advantage and a win over Carolina would be a big boost. The two teams are the hottest in the NFC with six and five game winning streaks respectively.

With Rex Grossman trying to make it back in time for the Tampa Bay game, in many ways Orton's immediate future could be decided this week. He has nine games under his belt, so the Bears have a great chance to evaluate his progress against a good team.

The last time this scenario played out with him throwing five picks against the Bengals.

I don't know if it's realistic that Grossman will be back practicing next week, but he seems to be progressing to where he could be ready by early December.

If Orton can lead the team to a win against Carolina, he'll keep the job. However, if comes out and starts throwing interceptions doubt will creep into the minds of players and coaches if he can be the guy.

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