As Dane said, I was in Kansas City over this weekend for this game, so I didn't have the usual awesome vantage point of a recliner and a TV broadcast, but at least y'all had Sam Rosen and I didn't. So that's awesome. So were my seats in Section 101, Row 28. And a huge shoutout to our fantasy writer Jeff Berckes, who came over to our seats and seems like quite a gentleman, and a fine judge of cheap whiskey.
This was the fifth Bears road game I've gone to in the last seven years, and easily the most thrilling win I've seen live, in any sport (Maybe Illinois and Rutgers in 2006, with the E.B. Halsey cutback for a touchdown in overtime... Ah, who am I kidding?). But before we get into the actual game itself, I'd be doing a disservice if I didn't discuss Arrowhead Stadium.
Arrowhead shares a complex with Kaufman Stadium (the Royals' home ballpark), so it's a double parking lot type of thing, which is great for tailgating in a car; it's a little less friendly with buses, as our bus got shoved up to the side of a three-lane road by Kaufman. But walking around the area, it's a great tailgating area - when we pulled up at 9:15, there were numerous parties in full swing - raucous and really friendly at the same time.
Quite frankly, Arrowhead is amazing. Compared to the other four road parks I've been to (Cincinnati, Toronto, St. Louis, Atlanta), there's just not a fair comparison - it's on a whole 'nother level. It's loud, it's game-focused (the "jumbotrons" are way out of the way and can't really distract much from the game), and while it's pretty crazy, it's not hostile to fans of the other team (at least, not that I experienced). Acceptable food and beer (aside from the usual high-prices), and really just a great game experience. The one minor (minor) gripe I had with the stadium would be the music.
The music wasn't particularly bad, but it was like someone ripped the Guitar Hero soundtracks, added in Fall Out Boy and Crazy Train, and called it a day. Oh, and their touchdown song, which sounded kind of like a country singer wrote a song about Kansas City because somebody had to.
I did get a little pleasure out of them playing "The Gambler" after the Bears' first touchdown though. Especially at about 0:00 left in the fourth quarter, when the Bears walked off with a victory.
Ah, that game. For three quarters, it felt to me like the Bears offense wouldn't know what offense was if you let them run on an open field. Martellus Bennett got shut down, hard. Matt Forte had to earn every single yard he took. Jay Cutler gave up a sack fumble for a touchdown (that they never showed a replay of in the stadium, so I never even knew that the ball was out). Hroniss Grasu needed some time to get warmed up to NFL football, as he got beat up pretty good early. Tracy Porter got shoved inside on a screen to give up a touchdown. Going into the locker room 17-3 is not usually a formula for feeling good about a game.
Then the second half began, and I don't know who let the real Chicago Bears out of the lockbox they were stashed in, but things got interesting when Pernell McPhee got through to block a field goal attempt. The Chiefs would never have a drive longer than 5 plays or 23 yards for the rest of the game.
Some of that may have coincided with the loss of Jamaal Charles, which, if he is out for the remainder of the year with a torn ACL, really, really sucks. Charcandrick West picked up 31 yards on 7 carries, but once Charles left, the run game just fell apart for the Chiefs - and Alex Smith just cannot shoulder a passing game by himself.
So with the Bears' defense shutting down the Chiefs for the rest of the game, the offense finally had to put something together, and after a really sluggish start, they finally came to life in the fourth quarter. Cutler ran twice for a first down, found Cameron Meridith for 18 yards, then two plays later found Martellus Bennett for 11 yards. Two plays later, Kansas City handed the Bears 15 yards when Cutler took a hard shot on a deep attempt to Bennett. Three plays later, Cutler lofted a 22-yard strike to a splitting-the-defenders Marquess Wilson, giving the Bears some life with 3:05 left, after failing the 2-point conversion.
This is where the Chiefs having Andy Reid as head coach is great, because I don't know if I get the point behind calling a timeout and a pass play out of the timeout, to risk giving the Bears time as well as the two-minute warning.
Meredith came through for the Bears with a 20-yard catch and another 10-yard reception, but the big play came on a pass interference penalty by the Chiefs. That set the Bears up at the Chiefs' 13, which after a 6-yard catch by Bennett, set up the game-winning toss to Forte.
It wasn't pretty, by any stretch. Both drives were extended and aided by Chiefs penalties, but when a team makes mistakes like that, you have to be in a position to capitalize on them. Good teams find a way to capitalize on those mistakes. The Bears aren't a good team, but that's a step in the right direction.
Honestly, you can't really call any ball game that involves the Bears' defense or special teams "over" until the clock ticks 0:00, and after the first couple plays, I was seeing shades of Atlanta (I think I saw Shades of Atlanta open for Rush a few years back - it was really weird, conflicting styles and all). But after an incompletion stuck the Chiefs with missing a 66-yarder, there may or may not have been elation.
I get the calls for tanking, and I get why people would take this team and want them to drop as many games as possible, but being at the game, I'm more than happy to walk out with a win that through three quarters the Bears did not deserve to take. They found a way to get it done.
- I'm honestly really impressed with how the Bears with a wide receiving corps of Marquess Wilson, Cameron Meridith, and a couple rolled up balls of duct tape have found a way to get moving when they need to, especially when Martellus Bennett struggles. Wilson in particular has really made the most of his opportunities, especially on the touchdown snare.
- Despite Porter's "Get shoved to the inside of a screen" maneuver, Porter and Kyle Fuller were generally pretty solid as the game went on. And Adrian Amos had another solid game. Harold Jones-Quartey was surprisingly not cover-your-eyes bad.
- Hroniss Grasu was weak early, but seemed to likewise get more solid as the game went on. Dontari Poe is not an easy matchup for your first career start.
- Willie Young looks really good coming in clean on a stunt, and Pernell McPhee had another really good game. But, Sam Acho just continues to find ways to be around the ball as he gets on the field more. I'm really impressed with what he's done when he's been on.
- Before Shea McClellin left with an injury, he actually made a line of scrimmage tackle, but still doesn't quite make enough stops at the line. Christian Jones made a really nice play, but he's still got some work to do as well.
- Charles Leno and Kyle Long both had really good games. Long is going to be just fine at tackle, and Leno's putting himself in a spot to not allow Jermon Bushrod back on the field.
- Arrowhead has a "forced penalties"/"crowd impact" tracker to make the fans feel good about false starts they force, and I was surprised one of them wasn't on Vlad Ducasse. But 6 penalties for 49 isn't awful (clean up the pre-snap crap, please!), when compared to two of the Chiefs' three penalties coming through on huge drives for the Bears. Timing is everything, and 39 yards on two penalties to keep key drives going goes a long way to making an 11-point lead disappear.
- Of course, a sack and forced fumble for a touchdown goes a long way to putting your team behind too. I'm not sure what to really think of Cutler's day, because he made some key throws in the 4th; he did a great job of not putting the ball in harm's way, but he also didn't put the ball in play for his receivers on several occasions and missed several throws. And, well, the drops and lack of getting open were huge too. He was rough for three quarters, like the rest of the Bears offense, but he connected when it mattered.
- The rate stats still hate the Bears defensively despite now being 4th in the league in total defense, but that just shows why you can't just look at raw yardage. No, statistically the defense isn't very good, and their best performances have come from half of the Seattle game, the Oakland Raiders and now the Chiefs, but they're getting better. You get the feeling that last year this team would have fallen apart falling behind 17-3, but this year the defense kept fighting and quietly making the stops they had to and hung on just enough for the offense to do just enough.
Just enough. That's kind of the key of this game. The defense struggled a bit, but held firm and didn't let the game get out of hand, and the offense and special teams put together just enough (with a little help from Andy Reid and the sloppy play of the Chiefs on the field) to sneak out of Arrowhead with the win.