Sep 09, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts during the fourth quarter at Soldier Field. Chicago defeats Indianapolis 41-21. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE
Jay Cutler started this game about as bad as I think we've ever seen him. After ten passing attempts, he had only completed one for 13 yards, with one horribly thrown and badly placed throw into the flat, where an interception will almost always go for a touchdown if the interceptor is driving towards the backfield. Which is pretty much exactly what happened, a quick jog for five yards and a touchdown. But after that, if you want some measure of how good Cutler was for the remainder of the game, he completed twenty of his twenty-five other pass attempts for 320 yards and two touchdowns, good for a 145.42 QB rating. Maybe the first quarter was nerves, lack of work, rust, heavy early pressure, but whatever it was, they sure adjusted quickly.
- The offensive line on the surface had a very solid game, with Cutler sacked on the first play of the game and again in the fourth quarter. But what should be noted is that in the first quarter, Dwight Freeney took a J'Marcus Webb-cut-block-delivered helmet to the knee (not quite an arrow, but whatever, and now I hate myself for that joke). The point is he never returned to the game. Prior to that departure, the Colts brought both Freeney and Robert Mathis (who picked up both sacks) to the exterior of the three-down line, rushing five on nearly every play, and it was wreaking havoc on the Bears' protection.
- And another factor towards helping the offense get on track in addition to the reduction in pass pressure was the running of Matt Forte to the outside and on a delayed handoff, as he drove to the goal line.
- For whatever my money is worth, Tim Jennings has to be the MVP on the defensive side, for a defense that allowed only 14 points in a very non-optimal situation (hampered Urlacher, Tillman leaving early). Jennings had two interceptions and played a key role in the third, and none of them were exactly cheapies. On both, Donnie Avery was sent driving straight down the field on a fly pattern - Jennings said after the game that he baited Luck into throwing to the "open" Avery, which he ran down the field with no problem and jumped high to catch the ball, perfectly done. On the tip for Conte's pick, coming to the pass, he reached for it, but tipped it high enough for Conte to grab it and keep running.
- So maybe when they say Kellen Davis is an improving blocker, we should take it to mean Davis can run downfield and block two guys out of bounds, but he can't stand side-by-side with Webb or Carimi and block in-line.
- Speaking of the tight ends, so much for getting them involved in the receiving game. Tight ends as a collective were targeted three times, one each to Kyle Adams, Davis, and Evan Rodriguez - only Adams converted his chance for 17 yards. In contrast, Brandon Marshall was targeted five times that, all by himself.
- On the whole, I was impressed with the defensive line yesterday. Peppers was his usual strong self, Idonije made some noise, but Melton was a real standout, in the backfield on numerous occasions, blasting Donald Brown just after a handoff in the first quarter, and getting after Luck twice for sacks. McClellin came in a few times in the Bears' nickel package and didn't show up on the stat sheet, but he did pick up a QB hit and created a lot of penetration with that wicked spin move of his.
- Corey Wootton doesn't get to play much, and doesn't get much penetration when he does. But when he does, he makes those plays count. He is, the most interesting defensive end in the world. "I don't always get sacks, but when I do, they're a forced fumble or forced retirement." Stay hungry, my defensive linemen friends.
- Urlacher looked hampered yesterday. I don't have another word to describe it. He made the tackle on Reggie Wayne early in the game, but wasn't noticeable the remainder of the game except that he wasn't as explosive as normal. Chris Conte on the other hand played pretty well.
- Donald Brown was running pretty well, but it wasn't very much of his own doing except for a few broken tackles here and there. On his bigger runs, there was some very good blocking, particularly taking Lance Briggs and Urlacher out of the play. Just goes to show you how any running back with a bit of speed can get free, get a head of steam, and take some extra space. Nevertheless, they are plays that can't happen.
- I'm not sure how the replacement refs missed Idonije's neutral zone infraction on Tim Jennings' first interception, but whatever, thanks guys! Aside from that, there were a lot of pass interference penalties called, some of which were actually deserved. The Bears took 7 penalties for 48 yards, while Indianapolis was penalized three times for 19 yards (twice on goal-set DPI). Apart from the NZI no-call, there really wasn't a lot to complain about with their performance, in this game.
- I'll admit, in the fourth quarter, I'd've been happy to have watched the Bears try to run down the final nine minutes, or at least drive consistently down the field and kick a field goal with three minutes left. Apparently so were the Colts, as they let Alshon Jeffery get behind the safeties for a picture-perfect touchdown grab on a beautifully thrown deep ball. The announcers called the touchdown in the third quarter a "stomp on the throat" drive - no, that, my friends, is a "stomp on the throat" drive.
- Speaking of receivers making great catches, it's a real pleasure to watch a real NFL offense in Chicago. Brandon Marshall is really a thing to watch. It's nice to be able to run the slant in addition to being killed by it.
- Cutler's perfectly entitled to be frustrated, and it was easy to see when he called the timeout in the second quarter that he had a hard time communicating with the offense. I have no problem with him wanting to do his job better.
- Devin Hester can be an NFL receiver. But a request - on the end around, less dancing and more going forward.
- If Michael Bush wants to vulture two touchdowns a game, fine by me. Part of me wants to see Bush in the up-back role with Forte the deep back and see how teams handle it.
- I hope Brandon Hardin was paying attention when Kelvin Hayden drove hard with the shoulder to force an incompletion.
- Digging a little deeper into the offensive line performance. there were still times Cutler had to roll outside the numbers to make a play, but on some of the deeper plays, Cutler actually had the requisite time to make the deep throws, especially combined with play-action derived from an effective running game.
- The Bears, despite all their offensive success, were only 4-12 on converting third downs. I guess to balance that out they won the TOP battle pretty convincingly (though they did have a drive advantage with Indy's INT-TD not requiring possession) by eleven minutes (35:28 to 24:32).
That's all I've got. What did you notice from yesterday's game?