By Bryan Dietzler
The Bears broke their three game losing streak this past Sunday as they beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26-21 in Tampa. The Bears didn’t play a completely solid game but the Buccaneers were clearly worse than the Bears in this one and the team that made the fewest mistakes won this game. The Bears made the fewest mistakes in this game and took advantage of the mistakes that the Buccaneers made to win. Although it may not been a clean game by the Bears it was one of the better games that they have had in a while.
There were some players that stood out in this game for Chicago that played a nice game. Jay Cutler comes to mind as one of those players as does Zach Miller and Harold Jones-Quartey. The Bears didn’t make the typical mistakes that have cost them in their last three games and played well in this one. There were some things that they didn’t do that almost hurt them but overall it was a nice effort and one that got them in the win column again to bring their record to 6-9 on the season.
The following is a look at five things that the Bears did do or didn’t do well in their game against the Buccaneers this Sunday. There are some individual efforts that need to be pointed out as well as a group effort or two that needs to be considered. At the end, there are some comments about the game as well as a brief look ahead to the Bear’s next opponent the Detroit Lions.
A Hero Emerges-Quartey was replaced earlier this by Chris Prosinski after he failed to do his job in the first game against the Lions. After a while, the Bears brought Quartey back into the lineup after Prosinski had failed live up to expectations. Quartey, who claims he had never prepared harder for a game in his career than he had against the Bucs, had an outstanding game. He had a key interception at the goal line and had a forced fumble. In addition to that, he had two passes defended and played a good game. Look for Quartey to be in the lineup next week as the Bears face the Lions and possibly get some payback for the poor game he had against them the first time that these teams played.
Curbing the Penalties-The Bears, overall, curbed their penalties in this game and didn’t have as many as they had in previous weeks. The Bears were able to find some success on offense not having to work in long yardage situations thanks to penalties and this really helped them to win this game. The Bears have been one of the most penalized units in the league (their offensive line is the most penalized offensive line unit in the NFL) and they walked out of this game with relatively few penalties. This was a result of good coaching and discipline by the team.
Lack of a Pass Rush-The Bears only got one sack on Jamies Winston in the game but they did get a few knockdowns on Winston but they didn’t pressure him that much. The defensive line was in a constant state of flux during the game as players were in and out of the lineup injured and the Bears used backup defensive linemen for a better part of the game. The Bears pass rush has been inconsistent over the past few games and in order to beat Detroit next Sunday they are going need to get a better pass rush. Hopefully their skilled defensive linemen (such as Eddie Goldman and Jarvis Jenkins) will be healthy enough to play in the next game.
The Last of Forte-Running back Matt Forte went out of the game with a back injury late in the third quarter and didn’t return the rest of the game. Forte is going to be a free agent this offseason and the Bears haven’t made any motions to try to resign him despite Forte’s overtures. The Bears would best benefit from running a two back system with Forte and Jeremy Langford both sharing the load (this worked very well in game this Sunday) so we will see what the Bears decide to do. If indeed, they don’t resign Forte and his back injury is enough to keep him out of the game this coming Sunday then fans may have seen the last of Forte in a Bears uniform. Let’s hope that isn’t the case.
Consistent Cutler-Cutler may have had his best game of the season although his yardage totals were low. Cutler connected on all but seven of his passes and used the short to intermediate routes to move the ball down the field through the air. He did have an interception but that was nullified with a penalty on the Buccaneers so he got lucky. Other than that one nullified interception Cutler didn’t make any mistakes and helped the Bears offense move the ball down the field effectively. He has had a solid season and hopes are high that he will continue to excel next year.
The Bears played well in almost every phase except for the blocked punt they had on special teams. That was costly as it led to a touchdown on a short field. The Bears were able to buckle down and keep the Bucs from scoring many points in this game and kept ahead of Tampa Bay with a combination of smart offense and good defense. The defense did allow some passing yardage in this game but did their job in keeping the Buccaneers out of the end zone for the most part. They did have that lapse near the end of the game where they allowed a touchdown on a hail mary pass but overall the defense played well.
Robbie Gould continued to shine by making several field goals in this game but the special teams does have a black mark thanks to the blocked punt. Special teams have been very inconsistent for the Bears this season and hopes are high that they will be better next season.
The battle for third place in the NFC North takes place next Sunday as the Bears play their final game of the season at home against the Detroit Lions. This should be a good game of two teams that don’t want to be known as the last place finisher in the division.