Sometimes when these grade posts go up after a loss, commenters want to see everyone get an F and in a win they sometimes want to see an A for everyone. In simple terms, that's fair because in one case the entire team failed to win and in the other the team did enough to win.
However, to me, that's not always the case. In any game certain aspects of the team perform better than others and those are reflected in the grades.
I feel like after yesterday's sloppy performance (13 penalties levied against the Bears for 111 yards), almost every guilty section of the team could receive a C.
All penalties are costly, but certainly ones that negate scoring plays, first downs and keep opponents on the field are more costly. They had three in the first quarter, all on defense: one gave the Ravens first and goal at the one, one gave them a first down, and one came on third down and gave them a third and one instead of a third and six. In the second quarter, one set the Bears back to the 10 yard line instead of the 20 at the beginning of the drive, one gave the Ravens 15 yards and put them on the door of the redzone. In the third a flag set Chicago back to third and eight instead of third and 13, and another set them 10 yards further back on a punt. On the first play of the fourth quarter one set the Bears back from third and one to third and six, and finally one gave Baltimore a free first down on third down.
That's nine of their 11 penalties that severely hurt the team. It was by far the most penalties the team has had this year. The Ravens got four first downs by penalties.
On third downs the Bears were only five of 13 and the team continues to lag in that area, converting only 38 percent on the season going into the game.
However the Bears outgained the Ravens 319 yards to 317, had no turnovers to the Ravens' two and scored more points, meaning they won. But how were the grades?
Josh McCown continued his excellent play filling in for Jay Cutler. He completed 19 of 31 passes for 216 yards, one touchdown, no picks and a 92.9 rating. He was sacked twice and did not fumble. On the Bears' winning drive in OT he was 2/3 for 57 yards. His pass to Martellus Bennett that set up the winning field goal was huge, he stepped up in the pocket and gunned the pass downfield. He was sacked twice but managed to lose only one yard on them, a testament to his scrambling ability.
Running backs: A-
Another solid day for Matt Forte. Frankly he's really the only RB of record because he's the only on that gets significant carries. Alshon Jeffery and Michael Bush both got three carries in the game. Bush was his usual self (gained five yards, a poor 1.7 YPC) Forte though averaged 4.6 YPC on his 18 totes for 83 yards. He added five catches 42 yards and a touchdown in the passing game. Forte was big in pass protection, chipping defenders before slipping out on a route and Tony Fiametta blocked well too.
Wide receivers: B
I had to knock the receivers' grade a bit because of the number of drops I saw. The corps came up with many big catches but also dropped a lot of catchable balls. Brandon Marshall had a first down catch hit him in the hands between his numbers and it fell to the ground. In total he caught only four of his 10 targets for 42 yards. Jeffery hauled in seven of his 11 targets, both of which were worse catch percentages than Forte (five receptions on six targets) and Martellus Bennett (two of two).
Tight ends: B+
The tight ends had a quiet game, but as mentioned above Bennett caught both of his targets and none was bigger than his 43-yard catch in overtime to put the Bears into field goal range. He got flagged twice for false starts though, one of which was on third and one so I had to knock his grade down.
Offensive line: B+
The line bounced back from their down week last week and played very well. The group surrendered only two sacks and paved the way for Forte's solid day on the ground. The group blocked well when pulling and Roberto Garza, Matt Slauson and Kyle Long helped spring Forte for his 14-yard TD catch in the fourth quarter and Jermon Bushrod got outside to set the edge for a Forte first down run on third down. Garza got called for holding but other than that the linemen played a clean game.
Offensive grade: B+
The offense put together a solid if unspectacular game and overcame a few penalties to piece together enough to win. In tricky conditions, which called for zero pass plays in the third quarter, the big uglies up front got the job done. Forte ground it out and McCown came up big when he needed to to win the game.
Defensive line: C
Another lackluster performance but it wasn't as bad as we've seen it at times this year. David Bass made the most of his reps to make a Julius Peppers-esque interception after the weather delay. Speaking of Peppers, he notched two sacks and four tackles for loss, of which Bass added one as well. Cheta Ozougwu added a sack as well. Bass and Corey Wootton also had a pass deflection each and Peppers added two quarterback hits. However, the unit did not play well in the run game, continuously getting blocked out of plays and leaving it up to the second level guys to bring down Ray Rice. They were better in the second half but it was still ugly. Peppers did lead the team with eight solo tackles.
The linebackers, like the defensive line, had a mixed bag performance. On the one hand Jonathan Bostic grabbed a very nice interception, looking like he was a tight end or something by the way he turned around and caught the ball in stride. He also deflected a pass and added five tackles, one for a loss. James Anderson also had a tackle for loss, in addition to seven solo stops. On the other hand Kasheem Greene had another quiet game adding three solo tackles and as a group they did not always get off blocks and took themselves out of plays. Disappointing.
The Ravens had just 162 yards passing and one touchdown, but it wasn't exactly all easy for the secondary. Zachary Bowman had two penalties called against him on defense and had another declined. His horse collar penalty allowed the Ravens to keep their drive alive and go on to the tie the game to force overtime. Tim Jennings had a pass deflection but none of the CBs really made huge impact plays. But they also didn't get burned for long pass plays either.
Chris Conte and Major Wright each had four solo tackles and Conte added a tackle for loss. Both were their usual selves in run defense. Conte got called for pass interference in the endzone to set up the Ravens' first score and later got burned by Dallas Clark for the Ravens' fourth down conversion.
Overall defensive grade: C
An average game, with the Bears again surrendering yards on the ground to Ray Rice to the tune of 131 yards and 174 total for the Ravens on the ground. They did make plays though and the two picks loomed large and went a long way to giving the edge to the Bears. The defensive line is just not going to be consistently good this year and that is just too bad.
Bowman himself probably played a D- or F game. In addition to his two defensive flags, he also had two on special teams. Both blocking penalties set the Bears back 10 yards. Not a good day for him. That said though, Robbie Gould added nine points, including the game winner in OT. Adam Podlesh averaged 38.7 yards in tricky wind conditions and still managed no touchbacks and pinned two inside the 20. Devin Hester was a non-factor in the return game.
It's tough to question a lot of things in a win but the things that stick big in mind are the decision not to go for fourth and one at the Baltimore 44 with just under 5 minutes to play. On Twitter I defended the decision but I do think it's fair to ask why not. The defense had been playing better but the Ravens ripped off a 15-play 81 yard drive to tie the game. The team had been running the ball well and it seems like it would have been easy to get. My other gripes were the decision not to use his timeouts at the end of regulation and his continued use of the Jeffery end-around. On the timeouts, I understand with the tricky conditions that maybe he just thought no field goal was a gimme and by making the Ravens drive down the team would hold them to the field goal but if they had scored a TD, everyone in Chicago would be asking why he didn't give his team any time left. The end-around is just a playcalling thing and I couldn't understand why he kept going back to it when it wasn't a huge success. The first time went for 11 yards, the next for seven and the third time for -1. After it works once it becomes a diminishing returns thing to me. It usually works once for a first down, maybe twice for 4-7 yards but I don't remember seeing a game where it worked three times for big gains.
A good win for the team but there is plenty to clean up, as usual.
How would you grade the team?
More from Windy City Gridiron:
- The Bears Den: November 18, 2013 - Week 11 Bears-Ravens news & notes
- Bears Vs Ravens: Notes, Scribbles and Things Jotted Down
- Final Score: Chicago Bears beat Baltimore Ravens 23-20 in overtime
- Weather Update: Chicago Bears vs Baltimore Ravens game suspended due to weather
- Chicago Bears Six-Pack Keys to Victory Against the Ravens
- Five Questions with: Baltimore Beatdown