Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of email questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.
Who are your top three Bears MVPs so far this season?
Excellent question, Neil. My No. 1 choice is easy; it's definitely quarterback Jay Cutler. He's been playing at a very high level while eliminating the turnovers that have dogged him in the past. Since missing a Week 3 loss in Seattle with a hamstring injury, he has passed for 12 touchdowns and four interceptions in eight starts while posting passer ratings of 89.4, 88.4, 88.8, 94.4, 100.5, 151.0, 70.4 and 90.8. My next two picks are much more difficult, but I'll go with cornerback Tracy Porter and outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, with offensive lineman Matt Slauson also drawing strong consideration. Porter has emerged as a top player on a resurgent Bears defense; in the Thanksgiving win over the Packers he intercepted Aaron Rodgers and became the first player ever to break up four Rodgers passes in a game. McPhee's production has tailed off a bit in recent weeks because of his knee injury, but he recorded five sacks and one interception in his first seven games and perhaps more importantly has instilled a new tougher mentality on defense. Slauson also should be in the conversation given his leadership and how he's ping-ponged between center and guard, helping the Bears survive key injuries on their offensive line.
Watching the Packers stun the Lions Thursday night, I was wondering when the last time the Bears completed a Hail Mary at the end of a half or the end of a game.
The last successful Hail Mary I recall the Bears completing was on Nov. 4, 2001 at Soldier Field against the Cleveland Browns. Shane Matthews heaved a 34-yard touchdown pass to James Allen as time expired in the fourth quarter, enabling the Bears to tie the game and force overtime. The pass caromed off a group of players leaping in the end zone and was caught by a diving Allen, who was trailing the play. Allen's TD came after the Bears had scored a touchdown to cut the deficit to 21-14 with :28 remaining in regulation and then recovered an onside kick. Mike Brown followed by returning an interception for a touchdown on the first play of overtime, giving the Bears a stunning 27-21 comeback victory.
I recall that the Bears broke a long streak of losing games in San Francisco last season. How have they fared against the 49ers in Chicago?
The Bears have won four straight home games over the 49ers, by scores of 37-31 in 2001, 23-13 in 2004, 17-9 in 2005 and 41-10 in 2006. Their last home loss to San Francisco came in the 1988 NFC Championship Game by a 28-3 margin.