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Win Over Bills Showed Off Extra Special Teams

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Win Over Bills Showed Off Extra Special Teams

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Lovie Smith

The Bears barely beat the Bills on Sunday. That three-point margin of victory -- the same margin as when the Bills lost to the Chiefs and Ravens -- was due to the Bears special teams skills. Those skills have been a hallmark of Lovie Smith's teams, and have often been difference-makers this season.

Israel Idonije showed that he can activate his go-go gadget arms just as well as Julius Peppers. Izzy blocked Rian Lindell's PAT kick in the third quarter. This was the first PAT that Lindell has missed since high school. That missed point -- as well as the missed PAT two-point conversion -- was the difference in the score.

Brad Maynard stuck a dagger into the hearts of the Bills in the final minutes of the game, pinning them on their own four with less than a minute to get downfield to try to tie the game. His per-punt average has fallen this season, but he still is able to help out the defense in key situations by giving opponents bad field position.

Patrick Mannelly also deserves to have praise heaped upon him. Who is he? If you don't know who Mannelly is, that's a good thing. He's the team's long-snapper, the player who is only noticed when he screws up. Anonymity is a good thing. Mannelly has been rock-solid since missing the pre-season, cementing his place as one of the league's best long-snappers.

There are many downsides to having Smith coach the Bears. For example, his micromanaging on defense, his indifference on his offense, and his sideline manner that is so stoic, you can replace him with a wax sculpture for games and no one would know the difference. But with the offense failing miserably and the defense trying to make up for the offense's failings, it's nice to have the special teams to count on.

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