Mitch Trubisky claimed his first win as an NFL quarterback as the Bears finally won on the road in a wild game against the Baltimore Ravens. The men from Chicago never do things the easy way though, as Dave Usher reports…
We almost reached ‘peak Bears’ with this one
That was a crazy game, but it really shouldn’t have been. Nothing comes easy to this Bears team though and they’ve made a habit of finding new and more gut wrenching ways to lose. This would have topped anything we’d seen previously though. The Bears led by 11 with only a few minutes left, but somehow ended up going to overtime .
Yet when you look at the story of the game it’s almost impossible to believe that could happen:
- The Bears defense did not give up a touchdown.
- They did score one though, as Adrian Amos had an 90 yard pick six.
- They also had another INT by Bryce Callahan which he returned to the Ravens 20 yard line. In total, they had 142 interception return yards, 2nd most in team history.
- The defense also recovered a fumble.
- Connor Barth made every kick he attempted.
- Mitch Trubisky had a TD and no interceptions.
- Running back Tarik Cohen also threw for a TD.
- Fellow running back, Jordan Howard, ran for 167 yards.
If you didn’t know the outcome of this game and based it solely on the above, you’d assume the Bears won comfortably. Yet the game ended 24-24 and they almost blew it in regulation as Howard ran out of bounds when he was supposed to stay in and let the clock expire. That stopped the clock and forced his team to punt the ball away. On the previous possession the Ravens had returned Pat O’Donnell‘s punt for a touchdown so that made Howard’s mistake even more egregious.
There was no TD on this one but Joe Flacco had 14 seconds left and wasn’t far from FG range. He had no time outs though and that would ultimately save the Bears, as although Flacco completed a pass over the middle that would have left a straightforward kick for Justin Tucker, they were unable to get to the line of scrimmage in time to spike the ball and the Bears survived to overtime.
That’s the Bears though, every week they find new ways to make life difficult for themselves. Despite playing lights out on defense and playing risk free offense, they gave up return TD’s on a kick off and a punt and so nearly lost a game they had well in hand.
Alls well that ends well though
I was convinced they’d blown it and I was sulking when overtime started. Utter despondency then set in after the Bears went three and out on their first possession and Pat O’Donnell shanked a punt to give the Ravens good field position. With Tucker’s leg, the Ravens only needed 15-20 yards to be in range, but as they had done all afternoon, the Bears D held firm.
Trubisky took over with the chance to lead his team to a game winning score, but a quick holding penalty put them back at the seven yard line and in trouble. Then came the most crucial play of the game as Howard took the hand off and looked like he’d been bottled up for a small gain, but he powered through a tackle and broke loose for 53 yards.
That was huge because if nothing else it had flipped the field and given the Bears some breathing room. For them to win it though they needed more yardage, and when they found themselves with a 3rd and 11 it wasn’t looking promising. That was when Trubisky came into his own. He’d barely been allowed to attempt a pass all day but with the game on the line he came through, showing great footwork to step up in the pocket to escape pressure and firing a dart over the middle to Kendall Wright, who made a great catch.
Barth did the rest and the Bears had their second win of the season, both against AFC North opposition. Maybe they can apply to the NFL to swap divisions with the Bengals?
The offense is very much a work in progress
It was interesting to look at the receivers and how they were used. Tanner Gentry was on the field for 76 plays and hd no catches. He was targeted only once.
(Sidenote to this. I not only picked Gentry up as a fantasy free agent last week, I only went and put him in my starting line up didn’t I? 0 points for Tanner, but it wasn’t much of a drop off as I’ve had Amari Cooper in there and he’s putting up Bear receiver type numbers every week)
Tre McBride was on the field for 58 snaps and had no catches and no targets. Kendall Wright, by far the Bears best receiver, was only on the field for 25 plays but he was out there for 14 of Trubisky’s 16 passes. Can’t really fathom why the two inexperienced lads are out there more than Wright, especially when they aren’t getting the ball.
The receiving corps are very much unproven but when so few passing plays are called it’s impossible to judge them. The Bears ran the ball a whopping 54 times and the plan was clearly to lean on the defense and make sure Trubisky wasn’t asked to do too much. It worked, but it won’t be like this every week, especially if the Bears fall behind early.
Trubisky’s numbers are uninspiring but there were glimpses of what he can do. He threw a nice pass to Dion Sims for a TD but perhaps his best play was when he jumped to catch a high snap in his own end zone and escaped out wide to throw the ball away. For most QB’s in the league that ends in a safety, but Mitch has some wheels on him.
The extra point
Last week I commended the Bears for a couple of nice trick plays in a loss to the Vikings and I called for “more trickeration please”. And I got it, as running back Cohen rolled out on what looked like a sweep and then surprised everyone by lobbing a pass to Zach Miller in the end zone. The Bears aren’t the most talented bunch so they need to get creative, so kudos to Dowell Loggains for pulling that one out at the perfect time.
A game ball for….
Cornerback Kyle Fuller has been having a quietly impressive season so far and he came up big in this game, defending pass after pass and allowing virtually nothing. It was his great play that tipped the ball into the arms of Amos for the pick six.
Amos also had a great game, as did the ever impressive Akiem Hicks, while Danny Trevathan was back from suspension and was flying around the field making plays. Offensively you’ve got to hand it to Howard, who carried 36 times for for 167 yards and eventually just wore the Ravens down with his power.