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Ten 'TNF' takeaways: Bears offense does heavy lifting

Following Thursday's 27-21 victory over the New York Giants, fans of the Chicago Bears are starting to understand how the other half lives.

For the first time since the glory days of Sid Luckman, Johnny Lujack and Ed Brown over a half-century ago, the Bears offense is carrying the load for a team that sits atop the division.

Appearing on NFL Network after the game, Brandon Marshall insisted quarterback Jay Cutler deserves the lion's share of the credit as opposed to new coach Marc Trestman.

"(Cutler) is like night and day," Marshall said. "He's unbelievable. He's unbelievable. I'm at a loss for words when I talk about him. Sometimes the light just flips on for a guy."

Cutler has posted a passer rating over 90.0 five times in a six-game span -- a feat he never pulled off in seven previous years. Spreading the ball around to multiple targets, he's completing 66 percent of his passes through six games -- after two consecutive seasons below the 60 percent mark.

Although Cutler is flourishing under the guiding touch of Trestman, the other side of the ball misses former coach Lovie Smith's acumen.

The Bears still have an opportunistic defense, but as they found out in last week's loss to the Saints, turnovers don't carry over reliably from week to week.

This aging defense entered the game 26th in the league, surrendering 28.0 points per game. The unit formerly known as the Monsters of the Midway no longer generates heat on opposing passers, doesn't tackle well and has experienced breakdowns in coverage.

If the Bears are going to hang on to the top spot in the NFC North, Cutler and Marshall will have to continue to do the heavy lifting.

Here's what else we learned in Thursday's game:

  1. Giants coach Tom Coughlinwon't hesitate to send running back David Wilson to the doghouse for poor fundamentals, but young receiver Rueben Randle has a long leash. Randle appeared to run the wrong route on an early-game interception and later got away with a bonehead move when he spiked the ball out frustration without being touched by a defender. He was fortunate the referees decided he was giving himself up as opposed to fumbling.
  1. Wilson's fantasy football owners might be on suicide watch after Brandon Jacobs channelled 2007-08 form en route to 114 yards and a pair of touchdown. Jacobs must have used the past few weeks as his personal training camp. He got to the edge, showed burst through the hole and carried defenders on his back. It certainly helped that the beleaguered offensive line finally opened wide lanes, and Bears tacklers gave a shaky effort.
  1. Jacobs isn't alone in rounding into form. For the second consecutive game, Hakeem Nicks showed life in his legs. Nicks has 13 catches and 212 yards compared to Victor Cruz's nine catches and 116 yards over that span.
  1. It's been nearly a full calendar year since Eli Manning's last fourth-quarter comeback. Already matching last year's total of 15 interceptions, he's on pace to join George Blanda as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to reach 40 interceptions in a season. It's unfathomable that talking heads were seriouslydebating who is better between the Manning brothers this offseason.
  1. The Giants' defensive woes were perfectly encapsulated by a 30-yard catch-and-run on a dump-off pass to slow fullback Tony Fiammetta, with nary a tackler in the picture.
  1. Marshall is the latest example of the squeaky wheel factor, wherein an established star is featured in the offense after complaining about his lack of work the previous week. It helped that Alshon Jeffery has begun drawing the occasional double team after last week's 218-yard breakout game.
  1. Neither team generated a pass rush. The two quarterbacks went the entire first half without being touched. This has been a consistent problem for both defenses this year.
  1. The Giants are 0-6 for the first time since 1976. The Bears have now won 10 consecutive games in which they have scored a defensive touchdown.
  1. Bears middle linebacker D.J. Williams (chest) and Giants running back Da'Rel Scott (hamstring) were forced out of the game with injuries.

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