When the Bears punted with 2:53 left in the fourth quarter, I sent out this tweet:
With that punt the #Bears won't win. Calling it right now.— Sam Householder (@SamHouseholder) November 27, 2015
I will say I partly sent it out in hopes of somehow reverse jinxing my beloved, but I really did believe it. I had felt like I had seen this movie before and I knew it ended poorly. Aaron Rodgers has just worn me down as an opposing fans. Time after time he has single-handily slayed the Bears with last second plays and drives.
But it was not to be, this was not the Packers' night. The defense battled and stuck their heels in and came up huge when they needed it most.
This is a huge win for Jay Cutler, obviously, but also for John Fox. The team has had obvious struggles in Green Bay for a long time and finally getting a plan together that was good enough to stop them was monumental. The first Bears-Packers game back in Week One felt like a moral victory, this felt like the cornerstone block of the John Fox Era Bears was laid.
Let's get to some takeaways:
Tracy Porter is the most underrated offseason signing: Signed on June 8, far after the free agency frenzy, most fans and analysts, myself included, thought of it as a depth for training camp. A veteran to come in and offer some competition for the younger guys. Porter had an injury history and I just couldn't see him making a big impact on the field. Boy, was I wrong. Porter missed the first Packers game and he was the man last night. He shut down Devante Adams (two catches, 14 yards on 11 targets) and James Jones (zero catches) while also adding the key interception. With Pernell McPhee slowing down over the last month or so with his knee injury, suddenly Porter has vaulted himself into the team defensive MVP talk.
The pass defense, as maligned as it has been, is doing something right: I can't explain it, but I'm no X's and O's expert, but the pass defense, despite their breakdowns in certain games, have held opposing QBs to less than 200 yards five times and almost did it a sixth time last night (Rodgers finished with 202 yards). They did it against Rodgers in Week One and also Carson Palmer, Derek Carr, Alex Smith and Teddy Bridgewater. Nick Foles had an even 200 passing yards against them. Again, the pass D is far from perfect and the lack of consistent pass rush has dogged them, but there is something about Vic Fangio and Ed Donatell that has allowed them to get the most out of the back end of this D.
Willie Young is starting to fit in this defense: He was a guy that was as good as gone from the day John Fox confirmed that the team would go to a 3-4. He was on a lot of lists to be a surprise cut at the end of training camp. He was supposed to be moved at the trade deadline and was certain to be cut shortly after the season ended. Well, now he's been the Bears' second-best passer rusher after McPhee. Last night he was credited with a sack, a tackle for loss and three QB hits. He also recovered the fumble forced by Chris Prosinski. Lamarr Houston has also found himself a niche but it feels like Young is more consistent across downs and situations, whereas Houston seems to be a third-down guy for the most part.
Jay Cutler was turnover free: He nearly lost a fumble on a snap that came quicker than he expected and he threw a couple "almost" interceptions, including one that hit a Packer in the hands. However, none of them landed in the opposition's hands and that, coupled with the victory, felt like a huge win for Cutler. Early in the game, with Dom Capers' defense getting after Jay, I saw a lot of "this place is in Cutler's head" tweets. However he was able to shake whatever it was off and get the job done. He finished with two fewer passing yards, a better completion percentage, got sacked less and had a better passer rating than Aaron Rodgers. Also the turnover margin with in Cutler's favor.
Eight wins is more than possible: Next up is the three-win 49ers coming to Soldier Field, followed by an inconsistent Washington team, at Minnesota, at Tampa Bay and then hosting Detroit. I see three very winnable games (49ers, Washington, Detroit), one game I lean towards a loss (Minnesota) and a toss-up (Tampa Bay is getting better). Eight wins is a very real possibility and nine isn't out of the question, depending on the health of the team down the stretch here.
What are your takeaways from last night's game?