By Bryan Dietzler
For the fifth straight game, the Bears had yet another close matchup this time with the San Diego Chargers. Like these last few games, this one came down to the end but this time the Bears were on the winning end of this game as they beat the Chargers 22-19 in San Diego. The Bears were behind for almost the entire game but their offense, coupled with an opportunistic defense, managed to keep the game close and pull it out in the end. The Bears got some solid play from a variety of different players in this game and it helped make a difference in the outcome.
The following is a look at five key factors from the Bears game this Monday night that helped either contribute to a win or almost contribute to a loss. There is some insight into individuals as well as a look at specific units on the team.
Houston, We Have a Problem, Sort Of-Outside linebacker Lamarr Houston had sort of an odd game. He got two critical off sides calls against himself in the game and those almost cost the Bears the victory. However, he also had two key sacks, right in a row, on the Charger’s final drive that put them out of position to score a field goal, at the least, and tie the game. The Chargers had kept the Bear’s biggest playmaker on defense Pernell McPhee from making big plays so someone else had to step up and take over and Houston did just that. He had a phenomenal game although his penalties almost cost the Bears the win.
Gould Amiss-Kicker Robbie Gould is on an uncharacteristic streak right now. He has missed three field goals in a row over the past two games after making all of this field goals up to that point this season. There is probably no reason for alarm with this as Gould is usually automatic but when it comes down to scoring in crunch time and the Bears need a quick score hopefully Gould can deliver. Kickers sometimes get into a slump and Gould might be in one of those right now. Hopefully he can pick it back up, make his field goals in the future and help this team win games.
Cutler in the Clutch-Quarterback Jay Cutler has once again shown that he can come up big in crunch time and lead his team his team to a victory. He did it once again against the Chargers and has brought the team back to win in all three of their victories this season. Cutler has his doubters and he did throw a Cutleresque interception that was returned for a touchdown plus he did have a fumble but he was able to overcome all that and lead the Bears to a victory. Cutler also broke the record for the most touchdowns by a Bear’s quarterback (breaking Sid Luckman’s mark) in this game. While he is still making mistakes his mistakes aren’t costing the Bears wins and the Bears are able to win big with Cutler at the helm.
Langford Shines-The Bears may feel a little bit more secure about running back Matt Forte being out after seeing what Jeremy Langford was able to do against the Chargers. He was able to effectively run the ball and he did very well in the passing game on Monday night. Some people may have been a little surprised that Langford was able to do so well but he did this kind of thing at Michigan State so it should come as no surprise that he was able to perform as well as he did. Perhaps this will make the Bears miss Forte a little less knowing what Langford can do.
Defense, Defense, Defense-The Bear’s defense only allowed one touchdown (the other came on a pick six) and did some good things. They recovered a fumble and got a couple of sacks but still allowed the NFL’s best passing offense to move the ball down the field with less than typical wide receivers. They did manage to keep Charger’s quarterback Phillip Rivers under 300 yards and kept the Charger’s running game in check so overall they had a pretty decent game. The players, the coaching staff and the fans just hope that this will carry over into their future games.
The Bears are slow starters on offense and this was seen again in this game. They didn’t get going, again, until the fourth quarter and ended up playing a similar game to what they have been playing recently. The Bears need to be more explosive on offense, build leads and use their defense to maintain those leads but until they are able to compete better on offense they will continue to have games like they have had over the past few weeks. Its possible better play and more continuity and consistency on offense might come next year once the team has been in the system a little while. One can only hope its better next season.