Grading The Chicago Bears: Comeback kids again
It was a wet and wacky day at Soldier Field Sunday but the result had Bears fans leaving the stadium happy.
The Bears used another fourth-quarter comeback to defeat the Minnesota Vikings 31-30 and improve their record to 2-0 on the season.
More importantly, the Bears won a divisional game which could be key in the playoff race.
While the Bears looked sloppy at times, it took another fourth-quarter comeback to win the game. Led by quarterback Jay Cutler, the Bears used a last minute drive to march down the field. The drive ended in a Martellus Bennett touchdown reception.
Bears fans got a little bit of a look at both sides Jay Cutler has to offer. Both “Bad Jay” and “Good Jay” came into play Sunday but the latter of the two stole the show in the end.
Cutler did have three turnovers including a fumble that led to a Vikings touchdown and what seemed to turn the game around at the moment. Cutler admitted his mistake and knows he needs to protect the ball better.
Cutler did make some great throws including the game-winning touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett with 10 seconds remaining.
In the end, the better side of Jay showed as he hit Bennett with a back-shoulder throw that had to be perfect.
Which Cutler will show up in prime-time against the Pittsburgh Steelers?
It’s becoming clear that the Bears want to use Matt Forte as effectively as possible in this west coast style offense. Forte put together a nice game on the ground and through the air finishing with 161 total yards (90 rushing, 71 receiving).
Forte also set a new career high with 11 receptions in the game and had a key play during the Bears final drive. With Forte being utilized properly in this offense, it gives the Bears a constant threat out of the backfield for opposing defenses to worry about.
The case for Michael Bush isn’t as good as Forte. Bush finished with just two carries as he struggles to find his place in the Bears offense.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
The Bears receiving core to no ones surprise is led once again by Brandon Marshall who finished with 7 receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown. Marshall made a few key grabs late in the game including a third down conversion that kept the drive alive.
Tight end Martellus Bennett proved to be sure-handed again as he hauled in 7 receptions for 76 yards and two touchdowns. Bennett also made the game winning reception.
Coming off an impressive performance in week two against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Bears offensive line struggled but did hold their own during the game.
Jermon Bushrod struggled throughout the game having two holding penalties (one declined) and gave up the only sack of the day for the Vikings.
The rest of the group was solid as the Bears rushing attack averaged 5 yards per carry thanks to the big holes opened up by the line.
They were certainly impressive during the Bears final drive giving Cutler plenty of time to make completions.
While it wasn’t a great performance by the offensive line, it was good enough to win and certainly shows more improvement from last seasons disaster.
For the second straight week the Bears pass rush was non-existent and it almost ended up costing them. I expected a better performance against the Vikings and Christian Ponder, but the Bears only recorded one sack for the game.
Julius Peppers and Henry Melton were nowhere to be found which will end up hurting the Bears down the road if it continues.
I don’t expect the Bears pass rush to be this bad all season long but it needs to change quickly.
The Bears linebackers had a very strong game led by James Anderson. The outside linebacker finished with eight solo tackles and was good in coverage.
One big key heading into the game was stopping Adrian Peterson. The Bears linebackers played a main role in limiting the damage from Peterson. Minus the long 36-yard run, Peterson only had 64 yards on 25 carries.
Lance Briggs finished with eight tackles and three pass deflections.
Going into the game I predicted the Bears secondary would feast on Christian Ponder and limit the big plays from the Vikings offense. The secondary did a good job of limiting big plays and made one of their own.
Corner back Tim Jennings had a key interception return for a touchdown that seemed to swing momentum back to the Bears.
Vikings receivers only had 10 receptions, led by Greg Jennings 5 receptions, and were constantly bothered by the Bears secondary.
With the defensive line struggling to get a pass rush so far this season, the Bears secondary has held its own for the most part.
The Bears special teams were tested early when the Vikings Cordarrelle Patterson returned the opening kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown. They responded well however.
Patterson didn’t break off another long one all game. Instead Bears kick and punt returner Devin Hester gave the Bears good field position all game long with a few long returns.
Robbie Gould converted on his only field goal attempt on 20 yards. Punter Adam Podlesh had three punts but only averaged 37 yards per punt.
Returner Eric Weems did make a heads up play when he tried to field a punt after the Vikings looked like they downed the ball at the 2 yard line. The play ended up being a touch back and saved the Bears about 18 yards.