Quarterback Kyle Orton, who seems to get better every week, led an offensive splurge that included two special-teams touchdowns and tied for the highest-scoring game in franchise history, a 48-41 victory over the Vikings that pushed the Bears to 4-3 and kept them tied for first place in the NFC North with the Packers, while dropping Minnesota to 3-4.
With a week off for their injury-ravaged secondary to get healthy and a home game against the hapless Lions next on the schedule, the Bears should be in good shape for the second half of the season.
In order to overcome a leaky defense that played with a severely injury-depleted secondary, the Bears got off the bus throwing, enjoying success through the air all afternoon. Orton completed 21 of 32 passes for 283 yards and a passer rating of 114.5, the second best of his career behind the 121.4 he put up against the Lions two weeks ago.
That ability to move the ball in the passing game gives the Bears balance that many questioned they'd be able to achieve this year given Orton's relative inexperience and a group of receivers that didn't impress anyone.
The increased confidence that the Bears' coaching staff has developed in Orton was evident from the beginning, even though Sunday's start was just his 25th in the NFL. He threw 20 times in the first half, while the Bears ran just six times for a total of eight yards. The four-year veteran has produced all of the top four passing games of his career in the past five weeks.
"He's got a real good feel for it mentally; and physically he's playing the best football that I've ever seen him play," Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. "He's playing with a lot of confidence so, if we want to do anything, there's no hesitation to call it."
That's a good thing, considering the Bears, like most of the Vikings' opponents in recent years, could not run against a stout defense that had allowed an average of just 60.6 yards in the previous five games and limited the Bears to 53 yards on 22 attempts, a 2.4-yard average.
"They're really good against the run," Turner said. "So we came out, and the first play was a pass, and then we went no-huddle, and when you go no-huddle, the quarterback tends to throw a little more, and that's kind of the way it worked out."
It's been working out that way a lot lately for Orton, who has 10 touchdown passes in his last five games and just four interceptions, elevating his passer rating to 91.4. As is usually the case, Orton spread the ball around evenly, completing at least two passes to seven different receivers.
Tight end Greg Olsen led the Bears with six catches (for 74 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown, his second of the season), while Marty Booker led the team with 79 receiving yards on three catches, including his second touchdown. The Bears' second-longest play of the day was a 35-yard reception by tight end Desmond Clark that he fumbled on a wicked hit just short of the goal line. But it resulted in a touchdown when wide receiver Rashied Davis fell on it in the end zone, just another contributor to the cause.
"That's huge," Olsen said of the Bears' team concept in the passing game. "It makes it hard on a defense to lock in on one particular guy and think that if they shut (him) down they're going to shut the offense down. That's definitely not the case with our offense."
Not as long as Orton's throwing the ball.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't think we have any egos on our offense. It's a group effort. That's how we treat it at practice; that's how we treat it in games. It doesn't matter if we're getting cheered, if we're getting booed, whatever the case is. It's 11 guys in there together, trying to get it done, and it's a great feeling out there." — Bears QB Kyle Orton.
UNDER THE RADAR: Rookie CB Zackary Bowman, a fifth-round draft pick from Nebraska playing in his first NFL game, recovered a muffed punt in the end zone for a touchdown and intercepted his first pass with 40 seconds left in the game to preserve the Bears' 48-41 victory.