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Chicago Bears improve to 6-4 in ugly win

The miserable Soldier Field turf had an undoubted influence on the Chicago Bears' 23-20 victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

The miserable Soldier Field turf had an undoubted influence on the Chicago Bears’ 23-20 victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

The supposed grass on Soldier Field looked more like a muddy pigpen for most of the game, but the Chicago Bears were able to push through the less-than-ideal conditions to grab a crucial 23-20 victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

The win, coupled with a loss by the Detroit Lions, vaulted the Bears into a tie for the NFC North division lead, although Detroit still owns the head-to-head tiebreaker. A loss by the San Francisco 49ers also pushed Chicago into a three-way tie with the Arizona Cardinals for the sixth and final wildcard spot.

There are still six games to go in the season, but every Bears win—and every loss by one of the NFC teams with a similar record—becomes highly important as they look to secure a playoff berth for the first time in three years.

Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery had a solid day mostly catching underneath passes.

Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery had a solid day mostly catching underneath passes.

Perseverance through adversity

The game took over five hours from start to finish, thanks to a two-hour weather delay, and the entire second half was mired by high winds and poor field conditions. Consequently, this was anything but a typical football game, as both teams were obviously limited by the circumstances.

The early break in action clearly worked in Chicago’s favor, as Baltimore had jumped out to a quick 10-0 start on their only two drives before play stopped. Two hours later, any semblance of momentum had vanished, and the Bears were able to fight their way back into the game.

High winds and a slippery field hampered both offenses in the second half, but the Chicago Bears were able to run the ball effectively and utilize short passes—mainly to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery—in order to move the ball just well enough to score some points and win.

McCown shines

The numbers say this was not a great outing for backup quarterback Josh McCown, who made his second start and fourth appearance of the season. He threw for 216 yards with one touchdown and a 92.6 passer rating, nothing that seems spectacular on the surface.

But he continued to move the offense, just as he has done every time he’s gotten in the game this season. He played smart football, extended plays with his feet, and continued his season-long turnover-free streak.

He also won the game on a 43-yard strike to tight end Martellus Bennett in overtime that put the team in position for Robbie Gould’s game-ending field goal. It was a perfect throw in difficult circumstances that could not have been placed any better.

Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte had a big day when field conditions made running the ball essential.

Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte had a big day when field conditions made running the ball essential.

Forte bounces back

Running back Matt Forte bounced back from his worst outing of the season against Detroit last week.  He ran the ball 18 times for 83 hard-earned yards, frequently breaking or avoiding tackles and doing a great job of falling forward to pick up yards after contact.

Forte also added five catches for 42 yards on six targets. Breaking three or four tackles along the way, he took a screen pass 14 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown that gave the Bears their first lead.

Second-guessing Trestman

Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman made a few decisions in this game that left fans scratching their heads. Trestman has had a tendency to get too pass happy at times this year, and that was an issue in this game, particularly in the red zone.

In the first half, the Bears had first and goal at the six-yard line. Due to a penalty on third down, they ended up getting six chances to score—three from only two yards out—and only tried running it once. The result was five incompletions and a Chicago field goal.

With about four minutes remaining in the game, they were up by three points facing a fourth and one in Baltimore territory. They elected to punt, pin Baltimore at the 15-yard line, and trust their defense.

The Ravens ended up driving the length of the field, coming two yards short of a game-winning touchdown before kicking a field goal to force overtime.

I actually agreed with this decision, as Baltimore was forced to try and move the ball into a stiff wind, which neither offense had been able to do at all in the second half.

Chicago’s defense was unable to hold, but they would have forced a punt if not for a dumb horse-collar tackle by cornerback Zach Bowman that took away a third-down stop.

Baltimore running back Ray Rice had a big day against the terrible Chicago Bears run defense.

Baltimore running back Ray Rice had his best game of the season against the terrible Chicago Bears run defense.

Run defense still terrible

The run defense remains the worst in the NFL, allowing Baltimore—who came in with arguably the worst rushing offense in the league—to run for 174 yards and a touchdown while averaging 4.2 yards per carry.

I’d like to be able to blame this on defensive tackle Stephen Paea leaving the game with a toe injury late in the first half, but Baltimore running back Ray Rice picked up over 50 yards in the first quarter.

Chicago’s front seven is incredibly banged up right now, missing four day-one starters and a key reserve. This helps explain some of the deficiencies, but they’ve had several weeks now to figure out how to fix it, and their run defense has simply not gotten any better.

With upcoming match-ups against running backs like Zac Stacy, Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, and Eddie Lacy, the run defense is going to have to improve if the Bears are serious about making a run at the playoffs.

Julius Peppers shows up

Defensive end Julius Peppers has mostly had a quiet season so far this year, recording only two sacks and generally being a nonfactor in Chicago’s first nine games.

He was highly impactful against Baltimore, recording 11 tackles (four for loss), two sacks, and two additional quarterback hits. This is the Julius Peppers Bears fans are used to seeing, and they will need more games like this from him going forward as their defense battles through an abundance of injuries.

Young defenders stepping up

Despite Chicago’s defensive struggles, there are three young defenders who have been thrust into roles due to injuries, have been playing well lately, and deserve some recognition.

Defensive end David Bass has started two games in a row for the injured Shea McClellin, and he punctuated some decent play with a spectacular interception of Joe Flacco, which he returned for a touchdown.

Bass also recorded four tackles—one for loss—and was involved on Julius Peppers’ second sack. Not too shabby for a rookie who was a seventh-round pick.

Rookie middle linebacker Jon Bostic made his fourth consecutive start in place of the injured D.J. Williams, and he has gotten better in each and every game.

Linebacker Jon Bostic is one of a trio of young defenders playing well for the Chicago Bears.

Linebacker Jon Bostic is one of a trio of young defenders playing well for the Chicago Bears.

He continued to make some nice plays against the run today, making five tackles (one for loss), and also made a great play in coverage when he intercepted Joe Flacco deep down the seam just before halftime.

Nickelback Isaiah Frey, meanwhile, has started every game this year after presumptive starter Kelvin Hayden was lost for the season in training camp. He has yet to force a turnover or make any huge plays this year, but has been one of Chicago’s more consistent defenders against the run and pass. The future appears bright for this second-year man who was a sixth-round pick a year ago.

Overall

Their 6-4 record paints the Chicago Bears as playoff contenders, but I remain skeptical.

I just don’t think their run defense is good enough for them to win ten games. There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon, however, as linebacker Lance Briggs should be back in another two or three weeks, about the same time that defensive tackle Jay Ratliff might add in to the rotation.

Realistically, the Chicago Bears likely have to go 4-2 down the stretch in order to make the playoffs.  The schedule, although heavy on road games, does not feature an abundance of great teams, so this should be possible. I just don’t know that it’s terribly likely.

Regardless, the Bears are right in the thick of the playoff picture for now, so let’s enjoy that as long as it lasts. Their offense should be good enough to help keep them in most games, so it is likely to be their defensive performance that decides how successful their season ends up being.

That begins next week, when the Chicago Bears travel to St. Louis to take on the Rams.

2134 comments
Cheeky Bastard
Cheeky Bastard

anyone here have a Keurig or K-cup brewer? I know they don't produce the same quality coffee as a coffee pot with good coffee grounds, but I was wondering if you own one, do you use/like it?

Thinking about getting one for my parents. 

bp.
bp. moderator

Seriously, my Hernandez article got 483 comments.  How long do we rub this in?

Staffords_Glove
Staffords_Glove

man I cant wait to get to Tyrol Basin this year for snowboarding. I miss that terrain park....

bp.
bp. moderator

This article has like 5 times the amount of my most popular article ever.

Time for BBAO.

Childerz...
Childerz...

I married into a well too do family not rich or anything... just well off (farmers) and that is really just recently since Farming was shit prior to about 5 years ago.. 

MIBearFan
MIBearFan moderator

@ethanfitz_PS4FTW 

Yes. They are nice, but the coffee is more costly. The best thing about it, is that you can have a cup of coffee anytime, without brewing a whole pot.

sgunderson17
sgunderson17

@ethanfitz_PS4FTW I've got one. It's probably about 4 years old.

It makes coffee just fine.

My one complaint is the small coffee amounts it's programmed to make. Even the biggest option still only fills my cup 3/4 the way. 

LKP
LKP

@bp. Black and Blue Always Out of date. Amiright?

G & G
G & G moderator

@bp. Rourke is brushing his hair right now

bp.
bp. moderator

@Childerz... Where at in the state?  We have a ton of big farming clients in the south part of MN, but if I remember right you are north of the TC's.

Cheeky Bastard
Cheeky Bastard

@MIBearFan @ethanfitz_PS4FTW that's why I want to get one for my parents. They are big coffee lovers but they won't make a pot unless there is more than one person who will drink it.

sgunderson17
sgunderson17

@MIBearFan @ethanfitz_PS4FTW That's another complaint, the cups are expensive. But there are filter cartrages you can use instead of using those pre-made cups. Plus you can obviously pick your own coffee that you like if they don't make them pre-made. 

Childerz...
Childerz...

@bp. almost directly West of the TC's on Highway 7 

its a small town called Clara City 

bp.
bp. moderator

@Childerz... @bp. Ah, you are pretty far west.  We just opened an office in Hutchinson, but I have honestly never been there.

Childerz...
Childerz...

@←sgunderson17→ C&H is Cane sugar from South America... Crystal Sugar comes from the Sugar Beets harvested in MN and North Dakota. 

Childerz...
Childerz...

@MIBearFan I'm not the wacist.. if we have white beans we still harvest them they get segregated at the work plantations