Gritty Bears

The Bears game lasted nearly 5-1/2 hours but the fans who weathered tornado warnings, torrential rain, and then frigid temperatures were rewarded with a warm, sunny result as Chicago came out on top 23-20 to improve to 6-4 on the season.  In a game that was expected to be smash-mouth and points-at-a-premium, it turned out to be a throwback to 1950’s football as the passing game was tossed to the winds.

The Ravens and Bears combined to rush the ball a combined 67 times for 278 yards while attempting only 62 drop-backs. Matt Forte had a tremendous day for the Bears racking up 125 all-purpose yards and a receiving touchdown. The play of the day for Chicago was made by previously unheralded rookie David Bass who went all JJ Watt with an interception for a score that went for 24 yards to tie the game at 10-10 after Chicago had a failed red-zone attempt that resulted in just a field goal.

The weather was the biggest story of the day as the two-hour weather delay pushed the game’s endpoint until well into the second half of most of the day’s late games. By the time overtime got started both teams were covered in mud and the field was much the worse for wear.   As Robbie Gould lined up to kick a field goal to win the game in overtime, the field condition for his planting foot made everyone feel anxious for the result, which turned out to be a field goal only when the umpires’ arms were outstretched to say so because the ball’s trajectory was hardly clear-cut stuff.

Josh McCown started and finished the game. Marc Trestman was left without a quarterbacking conundrum this time around because Cutler was inactive due to his ankle injury.  McCown again played extremely well given the opponent, weather and delays.  Perhaps most importantly, he didn’t turn the ball over.  A Cutler turnover can be overcome with diligence, but without any turnover to overcome the Bears were in the game throughout.  And it was McCown’s throw down the field to Martellus Bennett that set up Robbie Gould’s game-winning kick.

Chicago battled back from a 10-0 deficit after the delay and showed tremendous resiliency in this win. The Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers both lost and so Chicago moved back into a tie with Detroit for first place in the record column. However because Chicago lost both meetings to Detroit they’re still in second place in the NFC and second place will not get the Bears into the NFC Playoffs.

It’s extremely tough to keep going back to the decision to have kept Cutler in the game last week against Detroit, which is now turning into a three-game swing in the NFC.  Chicago’ll have the competition loosen up on them a bit over the next two weeks on the road as they travel to St. Louis to take on the Rams, and then to Minneapolis to face the Vikings.  These two games are very manageable for Chicago with both ball control and defense currently performing so well.  If the Bears can win the next two games and Detroit can beat themselves, then they could find themselves in the  playoff chase.  Detroit’s next two games are both at home and unfortunately against equally weak opponents in Tampa and a depleted Green Bay.