Chicago Bears Week 9: Takeaways

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It had been almost a month since the Bears won a game and I forgot how good it feels. The outcome of the game was in doubt for majority of it, but Jay Cutler led the Bears to a game winning touchdown with 3:19 to go and the Bears defense stopped the Chargers to seal a 22-19 victory. I

t was Cutler’s 12th 4th quarter comeback victory since 2009 which leads the NFL. He also broke Sid Luckman’s franchise record (137) for most TD passes with 139.

Not a bad day for Cutler, even if it looked like it was going to be another Monday night meltdown with two early turnovers including a pick-6. The two turnovers were hard to overcome, but as he has for most of this season Cutler played smart, efficient football the rest of the way and led the Bears to victory despite a makeshift offensive line and missing a couple of weapons in Matt Forte and Eddie Royal.

Both Cutler and OC Adam Gase deserve credit for coming up with an offense that gained 446 total yards despite missing multiple offensive starters. Jay Cutler, Alshon Jeffery, and rookie RB Jeremy Langford were the key pieces in the win, but some credit needs to be given to the defense for stopping Philip Rivers and the Chargers with 3:19 to go in the game and holding the NFL’s 4th best offense (yards/game) to under 20 points.

The outcome looked bleak after the Chargers drove easily into Bears territory with time running out, but Lamarr Houston came out of nowhere to sack Rivers twice in three plays and get a QB pressure on the Bears 4th down stop. Houston hasn’t done much since his big free agency deal in 2014, but he made the two biggest plays of his Bears career during the final defensive series Monday night.

The Bears are still only 3-5, so the win doesn’t mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, but this is a young team who was coming off two losses in games they led in the 4th quarter. At some point young players need to learn how to close teams out and Monday night they did just that. It might not seem like much beating a 2-6 team, but winning on the road on a Monday night is challenging regardless of the opponent and the Chargers have been in almost every game this year.

Week 9 Takeaways:

1.) Jay Cutler leads all NFL QBs in 4th quarter comeback wins since 2009

Just let that sink in for a moment. Cutler’s “Mr. 4th Quarter” moniker is used most often in jest, but he actually has the stats to back it up. Not only does he lead all QBs since 2009 with 12 4th quarter comeback wins, but he is 26th in modern NFL history with 19.

Monday was a classic Cutler game with a fumble and a pick-6 that put the Bears in an early 13-0 hole, but instead of folding after the turnovers Cutler came out firing and ended up connecting with Alshon Jeffery on 10 catches for 151 yards. The play-calling seemed to open up after the pick-6 and Cutler ended up with a final line of 27/40 for 345 yards and 2 TDs including a 4th quarter strike to TE Zach Miller that ultimately won the game.

He’s never going to be perfect, but there aren’t many QBs in the league who could take the supporting cast that Cutler has around him and keep their team competitive. All the negativity around Cutler is masking what has been a really impressive season so far. There are still eight games left for Cutler to sabotage the good will he’s earned, but if he keeps playing at this level the Bears won’t be looking for a QB in 2016.

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2.) Jeremy Langford did a pretty good Matt Forte impression

Langford was in a tough spot after blowing the game in week 8 with a 3rd down drop that gave the Vikings the ball back for their game-winning drive. All he had to do this week was replace Matt Forte, who was responsible for a league leading 33% off all the Bears offense coming into week 9. The rookie RB deserves some serious credit for his effort on Monday night. He finished the game with 142 total yards, a touchdown, and a key 2-point conversion.

Langford ended up with 32% of the Bears total yards which is a pretty good Forte impression. He also made a couple of tough catches and did a solid job in pass pro, picking up a few blitzes and at least chipping rushers enough to give Cutler time to get rid of the ball. I’ll cover the long-term ramifications of Langford’s game later this week, but for now I’m just impressed with Langford’s debut as a starter.

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