In a game full of impressive plays and stupid mistakes, the Chicago Bears snuck away with a 27-24 win on the road against the Baltimore Ravens.
After a good first half and a solid start to the third quarter, all seemed lost for the Bears once the Ravens started to gain monentum. Luckily for them, though, they were able to come back and get an 11-point lead. Which they also lost. The game went to overtime and eventually ended with a game-winning field goal.
Here are a few of my notes, takeaways, and other tidbits from this Sunday’s game.
- This defense needed Danny Trevathan last week. Although he was unable to play due to the suspension, it was great to have him back this Sunday. In the first quarter alone, he ended up with three tackles and a sack. He made his presence known throughout the entirety of the game. If he can stay healthy, then he will play a huge role for the Bears’ defense for the remainder of the year.
- On a 1st and 10 call late in the first quarter, Tarik Cohen was brought down for a loss of six yards. Why, then, did they choose to go for another outside run on 2nd and 16? Considering how far they were from getting a first down - and the fact that the Ravens stacked the box often in the first quarter - the call was an incredibly baffling one. What wasn’t baffling, though, was the fact that that second-down run resulted in a loss of seven.
- Chicago ran a lot of run plays in the first half, and rightfully so. After all, Baltimore did have the 10th-worst run defense in the NFL heading into the game. However, it would’ve been smarter to pass the ball a little bit more to shake things up. A run-heavy approach was and is smart, but running a few passing plays likely would’ve made the ground game more efficient.
- After a start to the year which saw them force no interceptions through five weeks, the Bears finally got their first of the year. Eddie Jackson delivered a crushing hit onto Breshad Perriman, which popped the ball free from the receiver’s hands. The ball was caught by Bryce Callahan, who returned the pick 52 yards to set the Bears up at Baltimore’s 20-yard line.
- Chicago needs to make more plays on defense, and this was a step in the right direction.
- Dowell Loggains has made some bad play calls this season - and trust me, his calls on Sunday weren't great - but he’s also had his fair share of creative calls. One of his most creative, no doubt, was the handoff to Tarik Cohen which resulted in the rookie throwing the ball to Zach Miller in the end zone (might I add, Cohen’s ball placement on that pass was surprisingly good, especially for a running back throwing on the run).
- That’s the second week in a row that the Bears have run a trick play, and both plays were successful. After years of conservative play calling, it’s nice to see a little bit of a change here and there.
- Pernell McPhee picked up his third sack of the season in the second quarter of his “Revenge Game”. The edge rusher, who played for the Ravens for four seasons, has been productive so far this season in a relatively limited role. Keeping him in a situational pass rusher role will be best for him moving forward at this stage of his career.
- Akiem Hicks is a star. He ended up with two tackles and a sack, and he was a nightmare to block throughout the game. He’s well on his way to a Pro Bowl-caliber season.
- The Bears have to mix things up on first down. They threw the ball a grand total of once on 13 of their first-down plays in the first half. This didn’t change in the second half, either: two of their 12 first-down plays were runs. If you run nearly every single time on first down, then the opposing defense is bound to take notice eventually. It results in predictability from an offensive standpoint, which makes them vulnerable.
- As long as the Bears have their current group of wide receivers, Mitch Trubisky will put up unimpressive numbers. He finished the day going 8-for-16 with just 113 passing yards. While his performance wasn’t all that great, there wasn’t anyone for him to throw to: his wide receivers simply struggled to get open. Those who don’t actually watch the games (looking at you, Skip Bayless) will claim that Trubisky is a bust in the making. However, there’s a lot more contributing to the rookie’s statistically lackluster season than his own performance.
- Trubisky’s first touchdown pass of the game was an absolute beauty. He had Dion Sims deep and placed the ball perfectly in the end zone.
- Those are the type of plays that we can likely expect the rookie to make for years to come, especially when the Bears surround him with better weapons.
- The Bears allowed a touchdown on a 96-yard kick return by Bobby Rainey. The Bears clearly believed that Josh Bellamy had brought Rainey down, and everyone else did, too. However, the refs confirmed their notion that it was his contact with teammate Tyus Bowser that brought him down.
- Cody Whitehair was thought by many to be the Bears’ future at the center position. His performance thus far doesn’t warrant that. His snaps have been horrendous this season, and his blocking in pass protection has suffered because of it. The question is, what do the Bears do at the position from here? Whitehair is a talented blocker, but a poor snapper. They can’t move him to guard as long as Kyle Long and Josh Sitton are on the roster and at the top of their game. Do they try to start Hroniss Grasu in the future and see what happens? Whatever they do, it’ll be interesting to see how Chicago addresses the center spot.
- Chicago gave Jordan Howard a heavy workload, and he didn’t disappoint. He finished with a career-high 167 rushing yards on an insane 36 carries, which was also a career high. He was impressive throughout the game, and only four of his rushes resulted in a loss of yards. Tarik Cohen also had a big role in the offense, as he too reached a career high in carries with 14. He wasn’t as successful, though, as he only had 32 yards. He also gave up a fumble. In all, though, the running back tandem got the job done.
- The Bears had a 14-point lead halfway through the third quarter, but from that point on the momentum of the game shifted. The Ravens scored off of a kick return, Whitehair had his awful snap over Trubisky’s head, and Tarik Cohen turned the ball over at the Bears’ own 40, giving the Ravens the ball in plus territory. Although Chicago was able to hold Baltimore to only a field goal, they coughed it up on the very next drive on a fumble by Trubisky. Luckily, a pick-six by Adrian Amos turned things around.
- Speaking of which...
- The Bears’ safety tandem of Eddie Jackson and Adrian Amos was very impressive on Sunday. Amos had a whopping eight tackles, in addition to his first career interception, whereas Jackson ended up with six. They were both active in coverage and in stopping the run. Surprisingly, that tandem has actually been better that Jackson and Quintin Demps, one of their biggest signings in free agency this past offseason. With a few more good games like this, Amos could prove himself worthy of regaining that starting spot in the long run.
- More on Amos. This may have been the best game of his NFL career so far. He was playing on another level throughout the game. To top it all off, he did so in his hometown of Baltimore. It couldn’t have been scripted better.
- Another defensive back had a fantastic game: Kyle Fuller. He ended up with five tackles, and he tipped the pass that Amos eventually returned for a touchdown. He was phenomenal in coverage, and he displayed an aggressive edge as a tackler, as well. It took him a while, but Fuller is finally showing why he was a first-round pick in a stacked 2014 class.
- This Bears defense is a lot better with Eddie Goldman healthy. This was made especially apparent this week, when the nose tackle finished the game with five total tackles. He was a constant force in stopping the run. Having that dominant presence up the middle is a big help to Chicago’s 3-4 defense.
- The Bears’ special teams was atrocious. While Pat O’Donnell averaged 46.7 yards per punt, everything else was a disaster. The team lost special teams ace Sherrick McManis to injury early in the game, which was just the start of a horrific outing for Chicago’s third phase. Bobby Rainey had five kick returns for a lot of 191 yards, including his 96-yard touchdown. Michael Campanaro averaged 26.4 yards on punt returns on five attempts, and one of them went for a 77-yard touchdown. O’Donnell even had his faults, as an overtime punt went off the side of his foot and ended up giving the Ravens good field position. In all, the Bears’ special teams allowed 14 points, while their defense only allowed 10. That’s simply unacceptable.
- This game should not have gone into overtime. Simple as that. The Bears had a 14-point lead and an 11-point lead at different points of the game and blew them both. Their offensive inefficiency, bad coaching and their terrible special teams play nearly cost them the game.
- After a second half full of bad luck, it appeared that overtime would bring the same for the Bears. When their defense stopped Baltimore from getting into field goal range, though, things turned around. Jordan Howard exploded for a 53-yard gain on the first play of their second possession. Later on in the drive, Trubisky delivered a phenomenal throw while scrambling in the pocket to Kendall Wright for an 18-yard gain.
- That set up a 40-yard field goal for Connor Barth, and the Bears’ second win of the year.
- Jordan Howard kept the Bears’ offense in the game, and his efforts were aided greatly by how great their defense was. They did a great job of shutting down Baltimore’s receivers, and they sacked Joe Flacco three times and picked him off twice. They were a bit weak in the middle of the field, but having Trevathan back did help. Having Jerrell Freeman likely would’ve helped stop a Ravens ground game which totaled 125 rushing yards. The Bears will get some help next week, though, as Nick Kwiatkoski will more than likely make his return to the field.