The Chicago Bears played one of their most complete games of the season in beating the Chargers 31-20, but Cutler breaking his thumb and being lost for the season almost negates the effort. The Bears offensive line gave up zero sacks for the second time this season, the defense forced three turnovers, Hester was running wild on returns and the receivers were actually catching the ball. Chargers WR Vincent Jackson did have seven catches for 165 yards and the defensive didn’t register a sack, but a win’s a win.
Hopefully, the many positives that came out of the game are a sign that everyone else is ready to step up in the absence of Cutler for, most likely, the remainder of the regular season. But, for now, let’s take a quick look back at some of the guys who stood out (good and bad) in the Bears fifth straight win of the season.
FB/Long Snapper Tyler Clutts – This guy can do everything. He’s a great blocker as well as pass catcher (one catch for nine yards), when called upon. He even took over long snapping duties when Patrick Mannelly went down with a season-ending injury. He had three perfect snaps on extra points and one perfect snap on a fake punt. You gotta love a guy who will do anything to help his team win.
DE Julius Peppers – Playing against three backup offensive linemen seemed too good to be true. However, Peppers, and the rest of the defensive line for that matter, did very little to put pressure on Rivers. Peppers had one QB hit and flushed Rivers out of the pocket a few times, but didn’t record a tackle. As the leader of the Bears defensive line, I expect much more out him every single game.
KR Devin Hester – Oh, if it weren’t for stupid penalties, he could have had so many more yards. He had punt returns of 37 and 42 yards and kick return of 36, 16 and 10 yards, but the 36 and 42-yard returns were shortened due to penalties. He still averages over 20 yards per kick return (22.9) and per punt return (21.2) on the season. He’s going to have to be even better now that Cutler is out, but if anyone can do it, Hester can. He didn’t even have one target as a receiver and I was surprising okay with that.
P Adam Podlesh – Two words: So close. He should stick to punting for now. The fake punt call was gutsy, and maybe bordering on crazy with two minutes left in the game, but it would have worked had Podlesh made a better throw. He did have three punts for a net average of 45.7 yards though, and the Bears now give up an average of only 3.5 yards per punt return. So, in conclusion, that fake punt would have been super sweet if it worked.
LB Dom DiCicco – This guy is a special team’s stud. He registered two more special teams tackles (giving him 10 on the season) and lit up Chargers LB Andrew Gachkar on one of Hester’s returns. Look to hear his name more in coming seasons.
CB Charles Tillman – If it wasn’t for his perfectly timed ball punch, I would say that Tillman had the worst game of his career against Chargers WR Vincent Jackson (seven catches for 165 yards and one touchdown), just one week after, possibly, the best game of his career. Since the Bears won, we will give him this one, but now he needs to step up big for the rest of the season.
QB Jay Cutler – Perhaps the best performance of the season by Cutler was washed away by the news that he will likely miss the rest of the regular season with a broken thumb. Nonetheless, he played one hell of a game. He threw for 286 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 11 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. His one interception, after Knox fell down, wasn’t his fault and he stopped Chargers CB Cason from scoring a pick-six, which would have put the game in jeopardy for the Bears. It’s funny that so many people are giving up on the Bears due to the loss of Cutler, yet, as late as this preseason, many people would have traded him for Kyle Orton and a Denver omelette. With this win against the Chargers, Cutler has put the Bears is position to still make the playoffs, even without him. Had he not chased down Cason, the Chargers may have won the game and the Bears playoffs hopes may have been out of reach. The guy is tough. If he did break his thumb on the interception, he played 14 more plays after that (three kneel downs). You gotta love the way this guy plays football.