It was important for the defense to perform how they performed Sunday, opponent aside. If it only served to get the taste of the Cincinnati Bungle out of their collective minds, it was well worth it. The Browns stink - nobody disputes that - but the defense didn't mail in the effort and dominated the ballgame.
Sunday provides a real test for the unit at the season's crossroad. When the Arizona Cardinals are at their best, even without Anquan Boldin, they can dominate defenses through the air. Kurt Warner is one of the best pure throwers in the game and there's not a receiver out there that Larry Fitzgerald takes a backseat to. If their o-line holds, the Bears will be staring their first home loss directly in the eyes.
That can't happen. Not if the Bears have any pride. Not if the Bears have any hopes of paying a ballgame in the postseason. Ten wins will be needed to accomplish anything in 2009. That means they must enter their Sunday night game at Soldier Field against the Philadelphia Eagles at 6-3. Must. And with the offensive line in total disarray and offensive coordinator on the brink of a meltdown, the defense will have to carry the water bucket to the top of the hill.
It feels like every week or so, another game presents itself as a "must win". This is what happens when you lose games you're not supposed to. As a fan, I couldn't get into Sunday's game against Cleveland. No upside. The Soldier Field crowd on Sunday should act like the season is on the line. Like hope is on the line. Because it is.