Let me get this in first, I thought kicking the field goal on 2nd down in overtime was the wrong call. But that's not the reason the Chicago Bears lost 23-20 to the Minnesota Vikings. They had plenty of chances throughout the game to step on Minnesota's throat, but they didn't get it done.
There were chances the defense was given, but they faltered. Inability to stop the run cursed this team yet again, and how do you let a team convert 4th and 11 from their own 8 with under two minutes left to play?
Adam Hoge of 670 the Score runs down six chances the Bears had to put Minnesota away, and when you read them all in a row like that, it makes this loss even more maddening.
Offensively the Bears racked up 480 yards, but they allowed 496.
They held the Vikes to 23% (4-17) on 3rd down tries, but allowed them to go 3-3 on 4th downs, and only converted 2 of 11 on 3rd down themselves.
The time of possession battle started out in Chicago's favor, but in the second half it was 20:26 to 9:34 to Minnesota, and for the game the Vikings held the edge 39:09 to 34:08. I wonder if the Bear defenders tired down the stretch?
The Bears racked up five sacks on the day, but they allowed four.
For every good for the Bears, there was something bad. It was a game they desperately needed to keep pace with the Detroit Lions, but they couldn't find a way to win.
Offense, defense, special teams, and coaching all had a hand in this loss.
If you didn't believe in Chicago wide receiver Alshon Jeffery before, your doubts should be gone. He's a legit number one receiver in the NFL. He broke his own franchise record for receiving yards with 249 yards. He added two touchdowns among his 12 receptions, and he was targeted a game high 15 times.
Did I mention he had one of the prettiest catches you'll ever see?
Jeffery only left the field for 3 plays, the same as the other wide out Brandon Marshall, who had 4 catches for 45 yards. Marshall is now 10 yards shy of the 1,000 yard plateau, and Jeffery is at 1,109. There is some historical stuff happening with the Bears passing game.
Jeffery did a lot of damage from the slot yesterday, and just in case you missed it, I explained how Marc Trestman will scheme any of his players into the slot by formation in this article, Why the Chicago Bears do not have a designated "Slot" receiver.
The trigger-man for Trestman's offense yesterday was Josh McCown, and he went 23 of 36 for 355 yards, 2 TDs, and a 114.9 QB rating. McCown has looked very good this year, but the offense isn't putting the ball in the end zone of late. In the last four weeks, which includes 3 of McCown's 4 starts on the year, Chicago is only scoring 20.8 points per game.
Moving forward the offense has to find a way to score more points.
Matt Forte, who played 60/66 snaps, had 25 touches for 151 yards, and his back up Michael Bush had his best run of the season when he scampered 15 yards on his lone carry of the day. After going with Bush in short yardage opportunities last week, the Bears rolled with Forte against the Vikings and had a similar result.
I think the Bears would be wise to widen out their formation and try to run against a spread out defense, because when they go with the jumbo package, they aren't getting it done.
Starting tight end Martellus Bennett had 58 snaps, two catches and 14 yards on five targets. Eben Britton only played seven offensive snaps as the blocking TE, and Dante Rosario logged 13 snaps at TE. Thirteen was also how many snaps fullback Tony Fiammetta had on offense.
I talked about the time of possession disparity earlier, and that was reflected in the snap count for the game. The Chicago Bears defense was on the field for 86 plays, and they had five guys never leave the field. The starting safety tandem of Craig Steltz and Chris Conte had 21 tackles between them, which is far too many for the backend of a defense. Besides those two, corner Tim Jennings, and linebackers Jon Bostic and James Anderson played all 86 snaps.
Bostic got the first sack of his career, but he was exposed at times in the run game. Then of course he had the taunting penalty late in the game. I thought that was an iffy flag, but the ref made a judgement call, and Bostic will learn his lesson.
Julius Peppers was close behind with 78 plays (91%), and he came through with another impactful afternoon. He was officially credited with 8 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 2 tackles for loss (TFL), 3 QB hits, and 1 pass defended (PD).
Corey Wootton, who again started at the 3-Technique defensive tackle, logged 75 total plays, both at DT and DE. Wootton had 3 tackles, a half a sack, 1 TFL, 1 QB hit, and 2 PD. I like him kicking inside from time to time, but he really needs to be back starting at DE.
Shea McCellin had 62 snaps, and at times was attacked by the Minnesota run game. He ended the day with 2 tackles and a QB hit. Until the Bears can get his playing time down to about half the snaps, they are doing him a disservice. He's not an every down DE, and he may never be.
Newcomer Jeremiah Ratliff finally got on the field, and he played 23 snaps and picked up a tackle. As he rounds into playing shape, he is the obvious starting 3-Tech DT moving forward. That will get Wootton back to DE, and cut into McClellin's time.
The other starting DT was the fresh off an injury Stephen Paea, who picked up a tackle, a half sack, a QB hit, and a PD in his 41 snaps.
Defensive end David Bass, who had a nice play by staying home to contain on an end around, logged 19 snaps (22%) and had a couple tackles. I think I'd like to see the rookie 7th rounder getting some more chances.
Rounding out the defensive line rotation, DT Landon Cohen had 22 plays, DT Christian Tupou had 16, and Cheta Ozougwu had eight.
The Bears were in nickle on 29 plays, and nickle back Isaiah Frey had a hand in the first sack of his career. Rookie weak-side outside linebacker Khaseem Greene had his first career interception, to go along with five tackles in his 57 plays.
Greene will benefit from the extended playing time and the self scouting will be good for him this off season. In my opinion he needs to add some strength, but his athleticism pegs him as a good fit for this defense.
A few special teams nuggets, Blake Costanzo led the Bears with 31 snaps, and newly signed Sean Cattouse had 15. That just goes to show that even the practice squad players are hard at work awaiting an opportunity.
What were your thoughts on the game, the stats, and the playing time distribution?