Chicago Bears Escape with Ugly 23-22 Win Over Panthers, Move to 6-1


Talk about winning ugly.  As one of the 60,000+ faithful in attendance of Sunday’s 23-22 victory over the Panthers, I have to admit, it looked pretty bleak on a cold but sunny day.  I also have to say that it didn’t feel nearly as cold the second half of the fourth quarter as the Bears were mounting their comeback.

In case you missed it, I did my weekly Q&A with the Panthers site leading up to this game.  If you’re a frequent visitor to the site, you know I like block quoting myself, so here goes my prediction:

You didn’t ask, but I’ll give you a quick prediction. The Bears and Panthers play each other so often, it almost seems like they’re in the same division. There’s a lot of familiarity between the two teams, so there shouldn’t be a lot of surprises. The Panthers were shaken up with the firing of their GM, so the players will be playing with some added intensity. Besides that, the Bears are coming off a short week with an emotional win over the division rival Lions. The Bears could be set up for a letdown game, but they rally to keep rolling. Bears 23, Panthers 19

Not too shabby, eh?  

It’s hard to say why the Bears are off to such bad starts this season, especially the offense, but from my seat in Section 235, I could see that the offensive line looked absolutely pathetic, making the Panthers look like a bunch of Pro Bowlers.

Jay Cutler looked completely disinterested for the first three and a half quarters.  Maybe he was looking ahead to a trip “home” to Nashville, maybe Camden was up all night and he was just tired or maybe those sore ribs were slowing him down.  I thought the offensive game plan was horrible.  Matt Forte looked good out of the gate and has a history of owning the Panthers.  So how is it that in a close game that was a one-score game for much of the time, does he end up with only 15 carries?  How is it that Michael Bush, the battering ram that he is, gets 3 carries?  How do you do that when your offensive line’s strength is run blocking?  I just don’t get it.

The defense wasn’t their usual spectacular selves, allowing the Panthers to march up and down the field, stiffening to force field goals instead of touchdowns, which ultimately saved them.  The savior of the day had to be Tim Jennings, who came up with another pair of interceptions, but none this season was bigger than his pick-6 late in the fourth quarter to give the Bears a surprising 20-19 lead.

The Panthers marched back to score a go-ahead field goal to go ahead 22-19 lead with about 2:27 left on the clock.  Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall took over, moving the Bears 55 yards to set Robbie Gould up for the 41-yard game winner.

A few more notes, let’s go bullet points.

  • I continue to be impressed with the young defensive linemen.  Shea McClellin had a nice tackle for loss, Corey Wooton had a nice pass deflection, Henry Melton continues to get pressure up the middle.
  • The diving interception that Tim Jennings had was a case of Greg Olsen giving up on the ball, but Jennings came out of nowhere to snatch that ball.  Very impressive play.
  • Lance Briggs also keeps on keeping on.
  • Steve Smith had 7 catches for 118 yards.  It only felt like more.  He’s made a career of beating the Bears up and this actually fell well below his career average vs the Beloved.
  • The Bears had -10 yards (yes, negative ten yards) up until late in the third quarter.  If Jay Cutler hadn’t hit Earl Bennett for 24 yards and 11 yards on consecutive plays in the closing seconds of the third quarter, I wonder if they would have been able to play Final Jeopardy.  (You nerds out there will get that reference).
  • The Bears had absurdly good field position all day long as the Panthers chose to squib kick away from Devin Hester all day.   I really would have liked to see the Bears do something different in their return team to counter that move.
  • Someone is going to have to help me understand the logic of going for a field goal in the fourth quarter down 19-7. It just didn’t make sense to me.
  • The Bears were extremely lucky that Jay Cutler didn’t get hurt while chasing down the intercepted 2-point conversion he threw.  The opposing team cannot advance a failed conversion.  It felt like a repeat of the Chargers game when Cutty broke his thumb last season.

That’s enough for tonight.  More to follow after I thaw out from a surprisingly cold Soldier Field.

Tags: Chicago Bears Jay Cutler Robbie Gould Tim Jennings

  • Phil_X

    Boom – Another win, and we’ll take it. I heard this morning that Jay has the highest 4th QBR in the league. Which brings me to my broken record speech. They run quick patterns that allow Jay to throw the ball in less than 2 seconds and they run some screens in theit hurry up offense (in the 4tg qtr f games). So, why not more of that earlier (or after the first drive)? Tice called the game like they were behind my 50. He will not beat the likes of the niners, texans, giants, or packers with the offense playing like that. Again, I’ll take 6-1, but this team needs to play more consistent, and it starts with Tice.

    • John Mack

      +1

    • BearGogglesOn

      I agree, TIce needs to step up his game. To be fair, the slants the Bears ran in the final 2 minutes, were gift wrapped for them by the Panthers.

      The Bears are horrible on 1st downs and must improve. I’d like to see some more running early in the game to help set up the pass.

      Tice addressed in his presser today that the opening play, the Bears were in max protect with a 2-man route and still ended up giving up a sack on the first offensive play of the game. It’s a familiar tune. Scrap that deep drop and spread the opponents out and play a little pitch and catch to get Jay and the offense going.

  • dbl j

    Great post….But can someone explain the Final Jeopardy line to me? Also, does anyone else think the Bears need to give a lot of credit to Ron Rivera for his poor management of this game? I know 51 yard field goals aren’t gimme’s, especially the way the wind was gusting yesterday, but its got to be a higher percentage than the hail mary…and he had some questionable pass play calls in the last field goal drive of the game yesterday…even though one was a dropped TD by Smith.

    Regardless, its nice to be 6-1. I have no idea how good the Bears can actually be this season, but if you want to get in to the playoffs, you need these wins ugly or not.

    • Phil_X

      Great point on Rivera. He’s out at the end of the year there, if not sooner. This Bears team can beat anyone or lose to anyone. I think Tice controls how far this team goes.

    • BearGogglesOn

      Re: the Final Jeopardy line, if you have negative points at the end of the second round of the gameshow, you don’t get to participate in Final Jeopardy. With the Bears having negative passing yardage until late in the third quarter, it looked like they might not be able to qualify for Final Jeopardy. Sorry, it’s the geek in me.

  • John Mack

    1.) Maybe it’s just me, but with respect to the offense not getting in rhythm, my eyes don’t see a Jay Cutler with the same CONSISTENT zing on the ball. But maybe that’s what being out of rhythm does. I sound like a broken record as I’ve mentioned this in a previous posting, but I’m still concerned as to whether his thumb injury healed properly from last year.

    ***I am NOT a doctor, I do not have any access to Jay’s medical records nor am I a professional in that area. So take what I say with a grain of salt, from another fan.***

    I just feel there’s more than what we’ve been told as to why this offense is having some glaring growing pains. And this also isn’t taking into consideration that it’s Tice’s first time being an OC.

    2.) I’m looking forward to what Phil Emery does both in the draft and Free Agency towards solidifying the line. Consistency and a solid pocket. Maybe we dip into the Miami pipeline again, grab Jake Long and slide JWebb over…errr maybe not.

    3.) Does anyone else miss Johnny Knox? Imagine the speed of having Knox and Hester lined up on one side taking the top off opposing defenses Then having the hands of Marshall and Jeffrey/Bennett on the other. Add in Bush or Forte and the dimensions just keep expanding. But that is the “what if” world. :(

    4.) It was an ugly win. Sometimes a little luck will go a long way as mentioned by dbl j.

    • Phil_X

      Hey John Mack! Cutler definitely looked off, but that throw to Davis was tight, right on the money, and put it where his 6’7″ TE could go up and get it. He showed some trust in Davis on that one. Good question on Knox…I think they need to use Hester less and Bennet more, and what happened to Sansenbacher? I thought he’d be an x-factor in the short passing game. I still feel Tice is asking Cutler to hang on the ball too much, and pass too much period. He is asking a lot of this o-line. Next years’ draft needs o-line and LB.

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