Offensive Line Supplies Punch

CHICAGO - Whatever pain Fred Miller was feeling in his fractured jaw wasn't about to bother him at this moment.

"A win like that will heal all wounds," the Bears right tackle said. "It makes you feel a lot better."

Miller, center Olin Kreutz and the rest of the offensive line enjoyed a few smiles and possibly the last laugh after they came together following a week of controversy and helped the Bears achieve a 13-3 win over the Carolina Panthers with 30:42 of ball control and 122 yards rushing against the NFC's top rushing defense.

"I wouldn't say it was easy," Miller said. "But we just went out there and we knew what task we had at hand. We went out there and put a body on a body and tried to keep the quarterback relatively free and made sure there were some good run-back lanes and we'd be OK. We just did our individual techniques.

"They gave us some difficult fronts for the running game. And we just found a way to win the game."

Miller and Kreutz had fought each other at a barbeque following a day of shooting at an FBI indoor shooting range in North Chicago almost two weeks earlier, triggering a week of cover-ups and controversy. Miller had a broken jaw and Kreutz a gash on his head. They offered up apologies early last week, but still think the media made far too much of the situation -- even if it is under FBI investigation.

"It wasn't something that was good for the team," Kreutz said. "Obviously we're still embarrassed by it."

It almost seemed the offensive line thrived on the adversity of the previous week as they kept quarterback Kyle Orton free of sacks for the third time this season and produced the second-best rushing performance anyone has had against the Panthers' defense. But both players said that wasn't the case.

"It's not a rallying point," Kreutz said. "It's something that me and Fred did by ourselves. We got over it. We're two men. Who's right, who's wrong doesn't matter. We're both wrong.

"There's not a right or wrong in that whole situation. We're just both idiots."

Linemen thought there was never a chance the incident would break their team chemistry.

"We were unified when we came out of training camp," guard Ruben Brown said. "That's just something Olin and Fred had to work out and they did."

Miller is eating only "mushy stuff" now, he said, like mashed potatoes and pasta. He still has a steel plate in the jaw.

Miller had to play across from Panthers Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers. Peppers made two tackles, none for loss, and was barely heard from on the day. Miller never really took a big shot to the jaw in the game, although he admitted to being a bit nervous about a cast-like pad Peppers was wearing.

"Nobody was trying to really hit me but I didn't take any direct shots," he said. "I felt pretty good. "It's going to be a little sore. It was about what I expected and I just went out there and played and had a lot of fun."

Miller and Kreutz maintained that the only people worrying about the fight between he and Kreutz were media members, although the FBI certainly has some interest in it.

"We've already put it behind," Miller said. "It's you guys (media) who still want to write about it and who care about it. But we had to go out there and win the ballgame no matter what."

Kreutz was upset with one reporter after the game for detailing the broken jaw he gave a former college teammate in an article.

"I'm done talking to you," Kreutz said.

The Bears' offensive line was happy to let their action do all the talking Sunday.

Bear Report Top Stories