The Chicago Bears were finally firing on all cylinders Sunday night against the Minnesota Vikings and came away with a 39-10 victory. Jay Cutler threw the ball for 267 yards, two TDs and zero INTs, Matt Forte rushed 17 times for 87 yards (5.1 yards per carry), Devin Hester had a kick return and a receiving TD and a nice punt return, and the defense held its own, giving up less than 300 yards, for the first time this season, and only 10 points. The offensive line even did a nice job blocking, thanks to Mike Martz finally calling max-protect blocking.
I’m not on the Super Bowl bandwagon just yet, but it’s good to see them beating the teams that they are supposed to beat. The only complaint I heard all night was a yell by Cutler to an anonymous person (Mike Martz?) after a huddle, “Tell him I said **** you.” Whomever it was directed at, I’m glad to see our quarterback playing with that kind of intensity. Now, let’s hand out some grades for the Sunday night slaughter of the Vikings.
RB Matt Forte: He continues to be the one constant week-to-week. Forte totaled 123 yards from scrimmage (combined rushing and receiving yards), marking the fifth time in six games he has eclipsed the 120-yard mark. Blocking or no, Forte is the biggest asset that the Bears have on offense.
QB Jay Cutler: The Bears first touchdown pass to Devin Hester epitomized what Cutler can do when he gets some time to throw. The ball sailed 60 yards in the air, and Jay looked as if he could have thrown it 20 yards farther if he needed to. He looked confident in the pocket and was making accurate throws all night. It appears that when his receivers are catching the ball, he gets the ball out faster and isn’t so hesitant to throw. His turnover in the third was ugly, but it was Jared Allen who got him, and he’s going to do that to you occasionally. Hell, Tom Brady even has eight turnovers.
WR Roy Williams: He’s a nice, big target for Cutler, and he actually made some catches this week. He had one drop in the fourth quarter when he was pretty heavily covered, so it wasn’t a perfect night for him. However, a game with three catches for 50 was what we were hoping would be a bad game for Williams, when they picked him up in the offseason. If he can put together back-to-back good games, I’ll feel better about him being one of our starting receivers.
Bears Defense: As much as I like a game where the defense gets a safety, I continue to be frustrated at the lack of turnovers this group of guys cause. This is now the fourth game that they have caused one or zero turnovers. That being said, D.J. Moore just missed a pick-six in the first quarter and has been a pleasant surprise over the last few weeks. The defensive line finally got to the QB, racking up five sacks, and the defense as a whole didn’t give up a run over 10 yards or a pass of over 30 yards. They also forced five three-and-outs and held Adrian Peterson to only 39 total yards. Safeties Chris Conte and Major Wright played just okay, which is a lot better than every other starting combo the Bears have had this season. This is a good game to build on, but if the Bears want to contend, they need to force turnovers.
KR/WR Devin Hester: On special teams, he had a 98-yard kick return for a touchdown, a 27-yard punt return that gave the Bears great field position, and made Vikings punter Chris Kluwe shank a few punts while trying to avoid Hester at all costs (three punts went less than 25 yards). As a receiver, his five catches for 91 yards and one touchdown marks the third highest yardage output of his career and his best game since October of 2009 against the Cincinnati Bengals when he had eight catches for 101 yards and one touchdown (the only 100-yard receiving game of his career).
Bears Clock Management: I have to admit, I was worried when Brian Urlacher called a defensive time out 36 seconds into the game. But, the Bears called a total of three timeouts and challenged zero plays, all game. Do you think the league will let them carry the extra time outs and challenges over to London next week? C’mon, those plonkers won’t know the difference.
OL Frank Omiyale: He had zero false starts, zero missed blocks and did not give up any sacks. Sitting on the bench is the second best position for him. I would be much happier if he were sitting at home on his couch.
I would also like to give out some rookie A’s to WR Dane Sanzenbacher for his great TD catch and DT Stephen Paea for a nice safety-sack in his first NFL game. These two guys look to be a reason to have hope for the future.
Now, let’s get ready for the Bears trip across the pond to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It will be another chance to take a step in the right direction and get above .500.