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Columnist
Sometimes a win doesn't feel so good
By Mike Imrem | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 11/2/2009 12:01 AM

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You know how it takes a historian to remember who actually won at the Alamo?

That was the feeling Sunday in Soldier Field.

Rarely has a winning quarterback been beat up as much as Jay Cutler was.

Rarely has the winning team been booed by the home crowd as persistently as the Bears were.

The sentiment was sort of like this: If the 35-point loss last week at Cincinnati was the worst game the Bears ever played, this 24-point victory might have been the second worst.

Maybe it's good that not even a 30-6 trouncing of the Browns was as fulfilling as most lopsided victories are.

Or maybe it's bad that the Bears just weren't as inspiring as the faithful required after putting the sin in Cincy a mere seven days earlier.

"What happened last week?" Bears head coach Lovie Smith said in his usual we'll-block-out-what we-want-to manner.

The Bears simply didn't want to talk about their bungles against the Bengals. The usually cooperative, talkative, contemplative Alex Brown cut short an interview when Cincinnati was mentioned.

OK, then, let's talk about the Browns game - if we must.

"We're going to have to make more plays if we're going to beat quality teams," Cutler said.

The Bears' quarterback looked like he had just been blown up at the Alamo. He had been smashed in the face, bitten his tongue bloody and endured 4 sacks.

"I don't know - I don't know," Cutler said pensively when asked whether he ever was beat up this badly in a 24-point victory. "I feel all right. I'll be ready to go."

Cutler better be ready because the Bears are approaching a pivotal stage of their schedule, starting with Arizona next week at home - booooooooo?

"November is a key month," Smith said. "We have a homestand and have to take advantage of it."

Sunday's game began a seven-game stretch that includes five in Soldier Field: Cleveland and Arizona here, at San Francisco, Philadelphia here, at Minnesota, St. Louis and Green Bay here.

"We're coming into November and December when teams have to start playing their best football," Cutler said. "The second half is where you make it or break it."

Cutler should know after playing last year with Denver, which imploded down the stretch to miss the playoffs.

To be fair, the Bears did do some good things against the Browns. They forced 5 turnovers, squeezed 90 rushing yards out of Matt Forte and scored 30 points whether it looked pretty or not.

But it's difficult to ignore that those were the 1-7 Browns, a truly pathetic football team with truly pathetic quarterbacking.

"We could have won by a lot more," Forte said. "When you know you could do better, you're not going to come out smiling."

The primary disappointment was with the offense, which was booed for playcalling at times, a lack of execution at times and just for principle at times.

"We have a lot of work to do," Cutler said. "You can't expect roughing-the-passer and pass-interference penalties to be your momentum."

The losers at the Alamo - and maybe the winners, too - made a similar observation.