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Bears D-line sets the tone

Caption
(Nam Y. Huh (STF))
Chicago Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton (69) sacks Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (7) in the first half of an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The Bears are done with Monday night’s debacle at San Francisco.

According to Henry Melton, they “destroyed that film.”

And Sunday afternoon, they swept it away.

While the defensive linemen credited the offense for putting up points, it was the constant pressure – without much blitzing help – on the new batch of sod at Soldier Field that turned around the Bears’ two-game slide.

“Just getting the confidence back,” defensive tackle Stephen Paea said.

That confidence was in doubt. It had to be after the Bears were pushed around Monday night that made it two losses in a row.

The Bears’ front four substituted in waves, as always, and stayed fresh as they chased Christian Ponder around the pocket. Most importantly, they got turnovers and helped the Bears get a lead, which forced the Vikings to be a passing team.

“We were just trying to make them one-dimensional,” Paea said. “If they start throwing the ball because they are behind, then we knew we’d be fine. They you don’t have to worry about whether they’re going to run the ball or run the play action.”

The defensive line stunted and they stunted some more. And, the one Bears unit that didn’t suffer a significant injury, held the league’s top-producing back Adrian Peterson to 108 yards on 18 carries with two fumbles and no scores.

That’s a decent, 6-yard a carry day for a normal running back. But with Peterson, the Bears felt as if that stat line was a definite win.

The Bears tried to push Peterson in one direction and keep him contained. Mission accomplished as he gained just 25 yards on seven carries in the first half, as his team fell behind 25-3.

“[Overplaying Peterson] kind of hurts your rush at times, but we were still getting there on the movement,” Henry Melton said.

Sunday was necessary, not just to keep the Bears atop the NFC North at 8-3, but to keep the confidence in a defense that’s been the best at so many things so far this season.

Against San Francisco, they were pushed around. They were exposed. And they were caught off guard.

Against Minnesota, they did the pushing, and a lot of it. They made the Vikings’ offensive line look like the one in disarray and – despite finishing with just two sacks – they won the collisions at the line of scrimmage with regularity.

They left with three turnovers and a victory to prove it.

“That wasn’t us last week, and we knew it,” Melton said.

Sunday, we knew who they were.

• Jon Styf is a sports editor for Shaw Media and can be reached at jstyf@shawmedia.com.

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