Jim Miller needed neither ammunition nor anyone's permission to gloat Sunday.
The point was so obvious, it barely needed to be made.
Cade McNown had largely failed to do in the first half of the season. Miller led the Bears to victory over one of the best teams in the NFL.
Miller, who replaced McNown because the second-year quarterback has a separated shoulder, took it upon himself to offer some perspective.
"I don't think the whole city of Chicago is going to go out and paint the town red," Miller said of the Bears' 27-24 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. "But it's a great feeling, I know that."
No, a 2-7 record is unlikely to send a city reeling. But it did prompt the Soldier Field crowd of 59,455 to actually chant "Let's go, Bears" in an effort to help secure the team's first home victory since Dec. 19.
What they witnessed was a Bears team that was well-rested after a week off. A defense that was even better rested after a first half in which the offense ran 44 plays to the Colts' 16 in taking a 20-0 lead. And a team that clearly benefited from the return of center Olin Kreutz, right guard Chris Villarrial and fullback Curtis Enis from injuries.
But it was Miller's first start since last Thanksgiving that pumped new life and an old tempo into a team that looked like so much roadkill after the first eight games.
That it took a botched punt that turned into an unlikely Bears touchdown, Walt Harris' first interception of the season to boost the Bears' lead to 27-0 and an Indianapolis fumble with a little more than a minute left to get past the Colts (6-3) was beside the point.
Though his teammates, in respect to McNown, tried to be diplomatic about what Miller's influence meant Sunday, there was no hiding it.
"Jim does bring that confidence to the table, I'm not going to say he doesn't," said tailback James Allen, whose 85 yards in 16 carries contributed to the Bears' best rushing day since the opener at Minnesota.
"When you have confidence and you're playing hard," Allen added, "everything we do seems to move a little quicker and they seem to move a little slower."
Quicker is what offensive coordinator Gary Crowton has been searching for since his newfangled, motion-happy spread offense threatened to upstage the league last season. When it slowed and often shifted its focus under McNown's direction the first half of the season, Bears coaches defended McNown with sweeping statements about the team's lack of execution.
But while Crowton returned Sunday to some of the unconventional personnel groupings and frequent substitutions that were successful for the Bears in the past, Miller said it wasn't all that complicated.
"I just go out and try to execute," said Miller, who completed 24-of-35 passes for 214 yards and a 34-yard touchdown to Marcus Robinson. "In this offense, if you don't try to be the star, if you just let the offense be the star and get the ball in the right guy's hands and let them do the work, you can be very successful.
"It doesn't matter who's running it. I know Shane [Matthews] runs it extremely well. It's no offense to Cade. I just think he's still learning it. He's going to be a great quarterback."With McNown expected to miss at least three more games, Miller will be in charge for a while.
Under Miller the Bears scored on their first four possessions--an 11-yard run by Enis for his first touchdown of the season, field goals of 41 and 37 yards by Paul Edinger and the 34-yard pass to Robinson.
The Enis touchdown on the opening series of the game took 17 plays and ate up 9 minutes 39 seconds. And it was the way the Bears went about it that made you think the gods were smiling on them for a change.
After an unnecessary-roughness penalty on Kreutz put the Bears on their heels with a first-and-22 at the Colts' 41, the Bears crept back into field-goal range for what would have been a 45-yard attempt for Edinger. But a botched hold by punter Louie Aguiar turned into a 13-yard completion to 315-pound defensive tackle Mike Wells.
Bears 27, Colts 24
A Jim-Dandy win
Bears' lagging offense revives, then defense hangs on
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