Well that was ugly, but I’ll take it. The Bears survived tornado warnings, a torrential downpour, a 2 two-hour weather delay, 131 rushing yards from Ray Rice, losing the coin toss in OT, bad field conditions, questionable decision-making from coach Trestman, and more terrible play from their safeties but somehow managed a 23-20 overtime victory over the Ravens. There wasn’t a whole lot to be excited about on the field except for the final result, but the Bears did what they had to do to get the win and stay in contention for a playoff berth.
Josh McCown: I’ve been hesitant to get excited about McCown’s solid play because I keep expecting it to end. C’mon, this guy was coaching high school football just two years ago, but after his gutsy performance in hostile weather (19/31, 201, 1 TD), I’m officially on-board and impressed. McCown has now gone 101 passes without throwing an interception and is 2-0 as a starter for the Bears this year. It’s a cool story and let’s hope he can keep it going, since Cutler has already been ruled out for next Sunday’s game in St. Louis. McCown gets my game ball Sunday.
Martellus Bennett: Salvaged a rough game (1 catch, 5 yards, 2 false starts) with a clutch 43-yard catch in OT to set up Robbie Gould’s game winning field goal. Bennett’s production has declined sharply since McCown took over, but the fact that he was able to step up in a big moment should help McCown’s confidence in the Black Unicorn.
Chet Ozougwo / David Bass: Next man up. I’m sure the Bears coaching staff didn’t plan on these two playing much this year, but with all the injuries on the D-line both were forced into action and they both made an impact Sunday. DE Ozougwo, playing in his 3rd NFL game, had a strip sack and a hit on Flacco. DE David Bass, a 7th round rookie, played his best game as a Bear (2.2 grade) and his deflection / pick-6 on a screen pass swung momentum in the Bears favor after they had to settle for a FG after three straight unsuccessful passes from the 1-yard line.
Jon Bostic: The rookie 2nd round pick out of Florida continues to improve at MLB for the Bears. Bostic had 5 tackles but his biggest play was an athletic interception on a pass over the middle with 1:00 left in the first half. The Bears were able to get a 46-yd field goal after the interception and cut the lead to 4 before half. Bostic almost had another one on the Ravens 2nd TD, but was a step slow getting to the ball and missed it by an inch or two. He’s getting better in coverage and starting to show flashes of the play-maker we saw in the preseason. That’s three games in a row with a positive grade (.5) for Bostic.
Major Wright & Chris Conte: Ugh. I don’t know what else there is to say about the Bears safeties. Wright took a terrible angle on Ray Rice’s 47-yard run on the Ravens first drive and was basically a non-factor all day. Conte actually played decent against the run with 5 tackles, 2 stops, and no missed tackles for once, but had a hard time staying with 34 year old TE Dallas Clark on a key 4th down on the Ravens last drive and a 3rd down on a first quarter drive that ended in a field goal. Conte also had a pass interference on the Ravens first TD drive. If Conte can’t cover 34-yr old Dallas Clark, who can he cover?
Landon Cohen: The Bears actually made it through a game without any new injuries, but Stephen Paea did re-injure his toe in the 3rd quarter and didn’t return. It’s too early in the week to know if he’ll be ready to go next Sunday, but if he’s not let’s hope that recently singed Jay Ratliff is. Ratliff is day-to-day right now, but the alternative isn’t pretty. Cohen filled in for Paea after the injury and was demolished by the Ravens O-line. I counted 5 plays that ended with Cohen flat on his back. Pro Football Focus graded him a -6.2 which is the worst grade from any Bears defender this season. A lower grade than Conte (-4.5) & Wright (-4.8) on their worst days. Ouch.
Matt Forte: Another solid day for Forte with 125 total yards on 18 carries and 5 catches, one of which was an 11 yard score after 3 broken tackles. Forte is a lock for the Pro Bowl and a dark-horse MVP candidate. I don’t know why he only got 18 carries on a day with wind gusts over 25 mph. Just one of the questions I have for…
Marc Trestman: In addition to only running the ball 24 times (31 passes) on a day with tornado strength winds, I have a couple other issues with Trestman’s game management on Sunday:
- The Bears had a 1st down on the Ravens 1-yd line after a pass interference call and called three unsuccessful pass plays. I get the surprise of passing in the situation considering the 40-mph winds and torrential downpour, but to not even attempt a run when you have an asset like Forte doesn’t make sense. Then kicking the field goal on 4th down, a yard from the goal-line, without giving Forte at least one crack at it just hurts. I hope Trestman’s failed 4th down conversion last week didn’t put a stop to his aggressive 4th down play-calling.
- My other issue was the clock management at the end of regulation. The Bears had three time-outs to use on the Ravens last drive and Marc Trestman kept them all in his pocket. The Ravens got the ball down 3 with 4:48 left in the 4th and ran all but 3 seconds off the clock before kicking the game tying field goal. The Ravens had the ball in the red zone with 1:16 left and still Trestman saved his time-outs instead of trying to leave some time for the Bears if the Ravens scored a TD. They didn’t, but they came damn close as Flacco missed an open Torrey Smith in the end zone on 3rd down. Credit the Bears defense for holding the Ravens to three points there, but if they would have scored a TD, the Bears would have had no time on the clock. I didn’t understand the move at the time and I’m still not sure I do, but at least Trestman was transparent with his explanation after the game. Even if it is a bit confusing, it’s refreshing compared to the silence fans are used to from Lovie Smith.
- From what I could understand, his reasoning was that calling timeouts would have increased Baltimore’s chances to score a TD because they could have brought in their red zone package and could have ran or passed, while without calling TOs they were stuck with their two-minute package on the field and there wasnt enough time left for a running play. Also Trestman estimates the Bears would of only had 18 sec or so to get into field goal range. I think it would have been more like 40 seconds, but what do I know. At least that’s what I think Trestman was saying? Here is a link to the transcript of Trestman’s comments.
Julius Peppers: His up and down season continues. After a quiet game vs Detroit last week, Peppers stepped up with two sacks Sunday and 9 tackles. He did have two penalties, but one was a garbage personal foul that he tried to avoid (and seemed to). With so many injuries on the D-line, Peppers will need to play like this consistently if the Bears defense is going to stop anybody.
Jordan Mills: I’ve been rough on Mills the last few weeks as he has been the weak link on an otherwise strong offensive line, but Sunday Mills had his best game since week 1 and did it against a solid Ravens pass rush. Mills gave up a hit on McCown and 3 hurries, but that is a huge improvement over the last three games and it was his first positive grade since week 1 (+.9).
* All grades courtesy of Pro Football Focus